Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Salary increment anyone?

One day, my boss invited me to his office. He said he was satisfied with my performance so he would like to offer me an increment. Later, I told hubby about this and he went:"You do not sound too excited about it?"

Yes, I'm not excited at all. You would not too if you see the comparison:

First job in Malaysia: 13% increment after 3 months probation
First job in France: 4% increment in total after close to 3 years

What about bonus? Before I left my company in Malaysia in 2000, they announced 2 months bonus for the employees. As for my current company, I have not heard of anything about bonuses.

Since it is quite a taboo to talk about salary, I do not know if the low increment rate applies to many people in general or it just happens in my company. My coworker said they used to get 10% increment in the 90s. Situations differ from industry to industry. As for the civil servant, their increment depends on their rank and academic credentials.

Anyway, my spirit was not as bad as several months ago when I realize that I would not get much increment. I was very discouraged, but by talking to people, I slowly overcame it and have since able to appreciate advantages to work in this company:

1. Good working environments
Being minority in the company, I do not feel being discriminated. In contrast, coworkers respect me, tolerate my French, sometimes show interest in my culture. Not once I was yelled at, being humiliated openly or pressed to a non-manageable situation. My friends in Malaysia told me that sometimes they cry in their companies due to difficult customers, high maintenance bosses or stressful assignments. I'm lucky to say that I have not experienced these in my working life. As with coworkers, they might keep their distance, but in general they are friendly. Mind you, they actually made effort to call me with my Chinese name with Malaysian pronunciation.

2. Family friendly
There is an implicit understanding that everyone lives a family life. I seldom work overtimes and in general people do not appreciate working late. Managers do not make a fuss if you need to stay home to take care of your sick child. During my pregnancy, my manager kept telling me that I should put my health / baby first, if there is any sign of discomfort I should not come to work or I should go home earlier. When my maternity leave ended, I asked to work several days a week in my town instead of driving 200km round trip everyday to R town, it was approved pretty quickly. Conclusion: it was my coworkers / friends / company environment that teaches me to put more priorities in my family. I don't think I could stand working until 10pm everyday or being sent outstations frequently like some friends do in Malaysia. Ops, did I mention the 7 weeks annual leaves?

3. Other benefits
- Private insurance and life insurance with good coverages
- Subsidized restaurant tickets make eating out more affordable
- CE (Committee Enterprise) who offers discounted tickets / rates to movies, activities, vacation rental, sports...

All these make me feel that, even though I might not been paid as much as I like, I'm well treated overall and have more time to spend with my family. This style suits me well. Of course, if you find a company / industry that pays well with big increment and bonuses + all the 3 non salary related points mentioned here, do let me know!

PS: Hubby said if you want increment in France (I think it applies to other countries too), you need to ask. The rule of thumb: the squeaky wheel gets the grease.


  1. I don't think you get compare the bonuses that one gets in Msia to other countries. It's the same in Oz, pay increments and bonuses are on average not large. For me, the other work/life benefits are more important like those you mention about putting your family 1st esp for those with young children.

  2. Yes, I really like the fact that I have more time with my family. I plan to work 4 days (Wed primary schoolers are off school) in the future.

  3. It's true that in France salary increments are scarce. One can hope to follow the cost of life (inflation) which is roughly 2%/year but raises of more than 5% are a rare thing.
    This is true especially in big corporations where the income of the company is unlikely to make big hops from one year to another, and so the employees wages do the same.
    This has to do also with the fact that it's very difficult to part from an employee, so if you raise him then that's an additional cost that will last for a long time.

    Actually, the only way to substantially raise your salary is to quit and go working with another company. It is not unheard of 10% to 20% salary raise when switching companies. But once you're into the new company then you'll only get the 2%/y like everybody.

    I think that it is also possible to find some really small companies where the salary policy is less strict but this often comes with a much bigger workload and it can be frown upon in these companies to leave on time not to mention having sick kids.
    Anyway this kind of companies are also sexist and won't hire you to begin with out of fear that you get pregnant and take a maternity leave.