June 26, 2024
Kati Sipp

Money & Movement Seniority

If you read New Working Majority’s salary survey report in 2023, you know that one of the major findings of the report is that the people who are least happy with their movement salaries right now are the folks who have been in the movement the longest–in our taxonomy, the Journey People and Adepts. Obviously, this finding is worrisome, as we know that burnout is also affecting this group of staff, and the combination of inadequate pay plus burnout is a formula for senior people leaving movement work.

One of the most important steps that movement organizations can take to stop hemorrhaging staff is to embrace the concept of longevity pay, which is a feature of many union contracts. Longevity pay rewards people for their loyalty to the organization, and recognizes their growth within their current position. They are different from COLA raises, which recognize that the cost of living has gone up, and that existing salaries are degraded by those increases.

When combined, longevity raises (sometimes called ‘anniversary’ raises, because they can be aligned to the worker’s anniversary of starting that job) and COLA raises (which typically take effect at the beginning of a new calendar year) are a powerful retention measure for organizations that are frequently losing experienced staff. As we point out in the report, if you limit people’s ability to earn more money in their current job, you are giving them an incentive to apply for jobs with increased responsibility–whether you think they are ready for those roles or not. And staff who are frequently turned down for promotion will begin looking outside your organization for opportunities, if they fear they can never move up within the organization.

At New Working Majority, we’ve made the commitment to longevity raises, as well as to addressing the cost of living. We’ve decided that staff will receive a $2,000 bump in salary for every year they stay with us, in addition to an annual COLA raise. The $2,000 bump recognizes that, while we may not be able to offer a staff person a higher job title, we are still honoring the fact that they grew in their current role, over the course of the year.

If you are leading an organization that has experienced high turnover from late stage Apprentices and Journey People, consider that it might cost you less, in the long run, to pay your existing staff a little bit more from one year to the next than it will cost to replace them on an annual or semi-annual basis! And if you’re leading an organization that hasn’t experienced this yet, consider that longevity pay may help in continuing to prevent it in the future.

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