I was having lunch with a friend recently and we got on the subject of my ongoing job search. He asked me the following question:

“Hypothetically, if they were to give you a raise, would you stay?”

I said, “That depends. While it may seem trite to say I don’t do what I do just for the money, it is true. I do have this idealistic viewpoint that a job should also be fulfilling. And, at present, the job is not fulfilling. But, it also depends on the size of the raise. I’m not a complete idealist.”

He laughed and told me I was full of baloney. And, I told him he was probably right, and then asked him for what he thought the answer to the question was.

He said, “A company that gives a raise in today’s world is trying to do the right thing. The gesture should inspire loyalty from the employee.”

I responded, “I am way too cynical to buy into that. I have been used up and spit out by companies that could care less how much loyalty I showed. Why should I sell myself short just because I got a raise that was most definitely already long overdue?”

I continued, “The HR wisdom of companies today is that ‘Raises are a reward for performance, while promotions occur because of potential.’ But, what if promotions are given without a corresponding increase in compensation? Who in their right mind would take a promotion, with the understanding/implication that it meant you were going places, but do so at the same salary? No one. But, this is how companies operate. They assume you’ll be so happy with the promotion, they can get chintzy with you on the raise. So, in truth, any promotion resulting from future potential should be linked together with a raise rewarding performance to that point. This baloney about ‘the money catching up to you’ is untrue.”

“Now, people who do good work but are not up for promotions should also get raises. But, that is a different situation than the first one.”

My friend smiled and slyly said, “So, hypothetically speaking, if they were to promote you AND give you more money would you stay?”

“Absolutely…but, it’s not because of loyalty…I told you I’m not a complete idealist.”