It’s not that the HR Department is trying to keep secrets from you. They are busy hiring people, solving employee-management problems and managing all the systems to keep people employed – just to name a few things.

Buried underneath all that work, there is information that may be valuable to you – if you know where to look. Depending on the size of your organization, you may find one person managing the area or in larger organizations you will find specific sub-departments within HR to contact.

Assortment of American CoinsIs Your Paycheck Right?

Are you getting your paychecks on time and are they correct? A separate payroll group or your HR representative in smaller organizations manages the payroll function.

If you have moved or have a change in family status – it is your responsibility to contact them and update your records so that the proper deductions come out and you don’t have a surprise at the end of the year when you file your tax return. Ditto for any changes in other benefits or deductions.

Direct deposit is great, however, fewer people look at their paychecks and endure they are correct.

Don’t assume that if your company has moved you everything is done, no changes can be made without filling out the proper documentation showing your consent.

Is Your Compensation Competitive?

In some situations compensation is the same for all positions. However, if you are being paid salary, your compensation is subjective. Perhaps you believe your compensation level should be higher (hint – most of us think that way!).

If you feel this way, the first step is to learn about how your organization establishes pay rates or salaries for their employees. In larger companies there will be a Compensation Department, in smaller companies, find out who is in charge of the yearly wage increases.

I have written a three-part series on how to go about evaluating how your salary was derived in your organization.

How Much Pay Increase Can You Expect Each Year?

Many organizations tie their pay increases to the general economy or rate of inflation. If inflation is low, then increases are low. There are many other factors that organizations consider – financial health of the company, growth strategy and competitiveness of skilled employees.

Once an organization establishes an increase budget, management may give out increases on a discretionary basis rather than an across the board percentage increase. Knowing what the process is for your company is important. Ask the Compensation Specialist or Human Resources Manager in your organization. Your manager is less likely to know the technical specifics of this question.

Remember, increases are evaluated yearly and where you are in your salary range will influence how much of an increase you might expect.

As you have these conversations with your HR Department, tread lightly. They may be surprised at some of the questions. It is important to be professional in your approach and treat it as an information gather meeting. Once you understand how things work, you can make a plan on how to execute what you want to do.