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The Microsoft Salary and Review System 375

Posted by Zonk
from the who-doesn't-like-a-salary dept.
f1055man writes "If you can make it through the obvious bias, Washington Alliance of Technology Workers (WASHTECH) has put together a revealing article on Microsoft's salary and review system. 'Internal Microsoft documents obtained by WashTech News show that Microsoft salaries have been stagnant or nudged only slightly higher over the past two years. Comments from current and former employees about the company's compensation and performance review system suggest a growing level of frustration among rank-and-file workers.'"
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The Microsoft Salary and Review System

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  • by MoxCamel (20484) * on Thursday March 09, 2006 @02:35PM (#14884409)
    I like to rip on Microsoft as much as anyone else, but holy shit welcome to the whole rest of the entire fucking industry. And the airline industry, and the financial industry, and the oil indus...ok, actually they're doing pretty good. But I read TFA, and there's nothing in there that anyone else isn't doing.

    It may be for nerds, and it may at some level matter, but it's not news.

    • by dreamer33 (917744) on Thursday March 09, 2006 @02:38PM (#14884428)
      Whats the difference between a sweeper who is working very hard expecting a bonus at the year end and a programmer who does the same ? Whats is required is a difference in thinking. Never work expecting something. Work honestly and sincerely and do your best. In the end if u dont get the recognition u expected, move on... The important thing is being your own boss. Think of the value you are generating... If the company doesnt recognise it, maybe its time to realign yourself with the corporate goals, do some soul searching too. In the end, maybe it just maybe the time to move on...or better still start something on your own.
      • by bensafrickingenius (828123) on Thursday March 09, 2006 @02:48PM (#14884524)
        In the end, maybe it just maybe the time to move on...or better still start something on your own.

        When I didn't get the raise I wanted, I didn't get all pissed off; I didn't even go look somewhere else. I just started my own computer repair/networking/etc. business on the side. It's been over a year now, and it's been a huge blessing both monetarily and in other, less tangible ways. There's probably not a person reading this that couldn't do the same. There's always more money to be found out there. Before I had my current skill set, if we started having trouble making ends meet, I'd just take on another shitty dishwasher-type job for a while. Thankfully now I'm able to be a little more entrepreneurial about it. Just wish I had the balls to do it full time...
      • "Work honestly and sincerely and do your best. In the end if u dont get the recognition u expected, move on..."

        I'm not an economist, but my gut feeling is that it is getting harder and harder for people to move on. Of course, there's always jobs available as a cashier somewhere, but that isn't supposed to be rewarding for a four-year degree or years of experience. Or, is it?

        I'm not an MBA, either, but it seems that MBA schools must not include "morale" anywhere in their curriculums. Time and time again,
        • by Bull999999 (652264) on Thursday March 09, 2006 @03:15PM (#14884706) Journal
          but my gut feeling is that it is getting harder and harder for people to move on.

          Some people view outsourcing of tech support to India hurts their chances of getting a job but I see it as an opportunity. I do PC repair/network setup on the side and most of the clients agree that Indian tech support sucks royally. You can take this opportunity to set up a business for yourself or sit back and let overpriced Geek Squad (Best Buy) provide services that people need.
      • by einhverfr (238914) <chris.traversNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday March 09, 2006 @04:49PM (#14885478) Homepage Journal
        Whats is required is a difference in thinking. Never work expecting something. Work honestly and sincerely and do your best. In the end if u dont get the recognition u expected, move on... The important thing is being your own boss.

        Agreed, and this is what I *hated* about the review process. I spent a lot of time generating immense value for Microsoft. I helped bring success in a number of venues and yet any time I attempted to bring these up in review, I was *criticized* for helping out other divisions of the company. Something about me being an employee of my team rather than the company as a whole. My review scores were always 3.5.

        I hated reviews. It was a process I generally barely tolerated because it turned the managers into backstabbing weasels. Interdepartmental politics always trumped the significant value of my contributions at a time when I was helping to write the strategy of competing against Linux (as a Level 54, no less). My managers would encourage me until review time and then cut me down in the review over it.

        I personally will not consider going back to work at Microsoft. Even though I left largely due to personal issues that left me no choice but to quit, I would not willingly go back.
        • by dslbrian (318993) on Thursday March 09, 2006 @08:23PM (#14887373)

          I hated reviews. It was a process I generally barely tolerated because it turned the managers into backstabbing weasels. Interdepartmental politics always trumped the significant value of my contributions...

          I think this is just a function of the way big corps work. I've seen it at two other companies (as a hardware engineer, not software). It seems the big corps always use some sort of relative ranking system, which taken to an extreme becomes just stupid.

          In my experience we were subjected to a rigid bell curve system where 15% or 20% or somesuch -had- to be rated below average. It didn't matter if you had a group with 10 of the smartest people in history, 20% of them would be ranked as underachievers - it was just a retarded system, everyone hated it (and sure enough I heard it eventually got replaced, though I didn't hang around to find out the new system - I jumped to a better job at a smaller company with not as much of the big corp mentality)

          I think HR at these big corps just degenerate over time into mindless collections of administratium [wikipedia.org]. They can't figure out why they always lose their best engineers, so they continue making lame attempts at employee satisfaction "surveys". Not useful surveys mind you, just the lame attempt to show that HR is trying their best to retain people. I actually asked an HR person once after doing one such survey why they didn't have any section for user comments, and she replied "well that would just take too long to read them all". (Yeah, I guess one wouldn't want to overburden HR with doing their job by getting useful information...)

    • by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Thursday March 09, 2006 @02:38PM (#14884430) Homepage Journal
      It is news for Nerds because the developers could revolt and demand extra wages or they will start to produce shoddy code.

      Errrrrrrrr hang on a minute
      • No, they'll use a far more powerful threat. They'll threaten to make the code and features so secure and plentiful that everyone will be delighted with Vista, and nobody will ever need to upgrade again...
    • I know we think we are intitled... but come on... this is what every industry is doing. I mean, damn, I don't use M$ stuff either... but, I also don't think I am entitled. I am blessed to make some loot and have a job. I get raises that are good enough for me to live comfortably.
      • Re:entitled? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Billosaur (927319) *

        Raises used to be tied to performance, and I don't mean those nonsensical performance reviews, I mean how you actually did your job and did you add value to the company. Hard work was rewarded, slackers tended to slink away. Now, no amount of hard work seems to matter; you get a "good job" , a pat on the back, and they expect 20 hours of overtime next week instead of 15. The only way for me to keep my salary increasing has been to move from one job to the next as often as possible.

        • Now, no amount of hard work seems to matter; you get a "good job" , a pat on the back,

          You do? Hey, is your company hiring? Because we never get it here.

          Recently our CEO came to town to talk to the IT staff here. Where others vented, I gave concrete examples. He thanked me afterwards, and I told him, "You know, none of use find Dilbert funny anymore."

          Our raises were capped at 3%, and earlier in the day we were told that our company had an EBITA of >30%. The rest of the division may have lost many

    • by SpecBear (769433) on Thursday March 09, 2006 @02:56PM (#14884581)

      Nope, not the whole industry, just those who are struggling and/or short-sighted.

      The "everyone else is doing it" attitude is a good way to lose your market leadership position. You have to pay more than lip service to your drive to stay competitive. If the review system doesn't reward people for performing, then they either won't perform or they'll move to where their work is better rewarded. It's like MS is saying "Google, you can poach our employees at a discount."

      For a company like Microsoft to be losing good people due to poor compensation is bad management that borders on negligence. MS is sitting on billions of dollars. Are they doing anything with that money that's more worthwhile than retaining their talent?

      • Retaining talent is one thing. Retaining your best talent is the key. In the IT industry your top 20% produce at a level many times the bottom 20%. There needs to be a means of identifying the best of the best...and rewarding them...and culling the herd.
        • If you can only hire in that top 20%, great. In reality, a big corp is going to have a lot of people from the lower levels hanging around. You still want to hang on to all but the worst of these, because its cheaper to use them than to hire replacements of the same ability and train them on procedures and get them up to speed.

          Of course, neither of these points have anything to do with the problem in the article- the disconnect between true performance and their review system. And its endemic in the indu
      • For a company like Microsoft to be losing good people due to poor compensation is bad management that borders on negligence. MS is sitting on billions of dollars. Are they doing anything with that money that's more worthwhile than retaining their talent?

        No. The problem is more complex than that and boils down to interdepartment politics. The problem is not just that the process needs to be redesigned but that the company as a whole is too big to come up with something better. The upper level management o
    • by Austerity Empowers (669817) on Thursday March 09, 2006 @02:57PM (#14884591)
      Given that MS has complained to the government about the shortage of technical workers, it is news, kind of. If there were a real shortage, you would expect to see salaries of its tech workers shooting through the roof due to their inability to hire, and desire to keep what they have.

      This article, subtley, calls bullshit on them. And, as you say, it's the whole rest of the industry. There must be a great lie going on.
    • by Chagatai (524580) on Thursday March 09, 2006 @03:21PM (#14884756) Homepage
      After years of study I'm writing about this for my upcoming book. Here's the sample from one of my chapters:

      You will not advance over the 50% mark of your company's pay scale. Since the 1990s, personnel and payroll departments in companies have instituted a graduated pay structure often called "Banding" or "Leveled Pay" to save costs. The concept behind these systems is to organize employees into similar grades depending upon job category and responsibility. A secretary and a construction worker may be placed into the same grade, while their managers and engineers would be placed at a higher grade. These grades span a set amount of money, so for example the construction worker may earn anywhere between $30,000 and $50,000 per year.

      However, this system was also structured to keep dangling a carrot in front of the eyes of the employee. The midpoint in these systems is designated as the "market average". Therefore, if you are near this midpoint, you are considered "paid competitively" compared to the rest of the people in that niche market. This makes the possibility for future raises smaller or nonexistent. For the sample construction worker, this would mean that he would not advance above $40,000 per year. While you may believe that you have the possibility of getting up to the top point in the grade, the system is intentionally designed to retard compensation.

      I welcome any thoughts if this could be stated better.

      • Such a system means that your employees will likely be able to get better salaries at their competitors. (If you pay everyone the industry average or less than the rest of the industry must be paying the industry average or more.) The end result of this is that employees who can quit and get better jobs will eventually quit and get better jobs. The end result of that is that your employees will generally be less competent than your competitors.

        In other words, you get what you pay for.
      • Here [slashdot.org] is a post I made in a different discussion that seems to relate to your book. The problem with banding and the like (from the employee's point of view) is that everything is generalized to the point where excellence cannot be rewarded. In the linked post my example is that the company would want one of the top %5 of DBA's in the country. Their hiring policy is that they pay in the 60th percentile of salaries for all positions. How do you get top 5% quality when you pay in the 60th percentile?

        The

    • What it would have to include for news for me would be a comparison in the curves between the Redmond, Bangalore, and Hydrabad campuses.
    • by HangingChad (677530) on Thursday March 09, 2006 @04:17PM (#14885195) Homepage
      I like to rip on Microsoft as much as anyone else, but holy shit welcome to the whole rest of the entire fucking industry. And the airline industry, and the financial industry

      It could be significant because MSFT has been doing it while increasing their quarterly profits. When a company needs cash and stiffs their workers on salaries it's a lot more understandable than a company that still manages to increase their quarterly numbers. It would breed a lot of resentment among the rank and file.

      It might really be significant if MSFT had to stiff their workers to increase quarterly numbers. Their sales are nearly pure profit, billions in cash every quarter. And they're telling their employees "No soup for you!"

      Doesn't make sense. MSFT is not an airline or a smokestack industry. Their sunk costs are pretty insignificant compared to their cash profit margin. For a cash rich company this behavior is oddly out of synch with their earnings.

  • by dada21 (163177) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Thursday March 09, 2006 @02:38PM (#14884435) Homepage Journal
    I have a big problem with salaries in the U.S. -- employees believe they have a right to a raise every year, even if they are not providing more service or helping the company with added efficiency.

    The big problem in the States is the government's crazy dollar creation (what we call inflation is directly caused by the Fed's out of control printing of dollars). This inflation creates cost of living increases (including the housing bubble in my opinion). Because of this inflationary cycle, people demand cost of living increases.

    For my businesses, I pay my employees the lowest salary possible, in some cases minimum wage. I myself only earn minimum wage. Yet my employees also get a much larger share of profits, up to 70% on a given project. They are directly tied to the performance of their work, as well as the performance of the market. I'm one of the lowest paid in my IT business (although I also do less work than most).

    To get raises, your company has to be making more money in terms of net profits. Microsoft is a company that has to constantly find new ways to profit in order to grow. With the added competition in the marketplace, it surprises me that slashdot geeks constantly berate Microsoft for being a monopoly when they have one of the most volatile markets to sell to -- they're constantly having to find ways to keep customers happy.

    I wouldn't work for (or invest in) Microsoft or any large tech company. The red tape and bureaucracy is enormous, and the management system is bound to fail at multiple places when their market turns.

    If you are an employee of a company that isn't getting a raise this year, consider the realities of your market:

    1. Is your company growing?
    2. Is the growth reflected in real profits?
    3. Does your company see a volatile near-future that they need to save for?
    4. Are you personally more efficient or creating more income for your company?
    5. Is your government printing more currency than the economy needs, causing inflation in consumer and housing prices? Does this inflationary cycle hurt your employer?
    6. Is your employer's tax burden increasing even if they're paying you the same? Is this increased tax burden causing you to earn less?

    When you're an employee, you put off the reward of a very high salary by hedging against the risk of running a business. Some people believe a business' only goal is to generate profits for the owners, but this in totally untrue. A business operates to generate profits in the long run, not the short run. The only way to profit in the long run is to make your customers happy and return for more. Also, the only way to profit is for your employees to be operating more efficiently (more work or less cost) than your competitors. Profitable years might be needed to cover unprofitable years, so you can not focus on only one year or 5 years -- you have to look at the overall picture. When you take a salaried job, you give up having to worry about these things in exchange for job security.

    Sometimes you won't get raises, but the world will get more expensive around you. You can almost always blame across-the-board cost of living increases on the guys printing the money. Across-the-board prices don't go up unless the money supply goes up. Don't blame your boss for not being able to compensate for these mistakes made by the central banks.
    • by mymaxx (924704) on Thursday March 09, 2006 @02:47PM (#14884515)
      I have a big problem with people like you who have that attitude. Have you heard of a cost of living increase? I have been working for three years without even one of those. In essence, although my value to my company has increased, they are lowering my salary.

      For my businesses, I pay my employees the lowest salary possible, in some cases minimum wage. I myself only earn minimum wage. Yet my employees also get a much larger share of profits, up to 70% on a given project. They are directly tied to the performance of their work, as well as the performance of the market. I'm one of the lowest paid in my IT business (although I also do less work than most).

      That may be great during good times, but what happens if your business falls on hard times? If you aren't compensating your employees appropriately, do you think they are going to stay? You see, salary is a form of compensation. If you don't pay your employees anything but or near minimum wage, you must not think very highly of your work. Just because an effort fails, does not mean that it was for lack of trying. Profit sharing should be an extra incentive to work even harder.
      • I have a big problem with people like you who have that attitude. Have you heard of a cost of living increase? I have been working for three years without even one of those. In essence, although my value to my company has increased, they are lowering my salary.

        The parent poster did address cost of living increases, but he said that cost of living increases are formed by inflation. Some businesses are unable to keep up with inflation and therefore are unable to raise their workers' salaries. Inflation r

      • I have a big problem with people like you who have that attitude. Have you heard of a cost of living increase? I have been working for three years without even one of those. In essence, although my value to my company has increased, they are lowering my salary.

        And this is your employer's fault? It is your job to work at the rate you're paid. If you want more money, you have to find someone willing to pay for it.

        Your employee compensates you for what you are worth to them. If you want more money, you have
    • Raises every year went away around 1969 IIRC. The reason employees are clamoring for raises is their cost of living goes up every year. During the last year my property taxes have gone up 22%, health care went up 30%, deductibles doubled, gas went way up. My salary hasnt gone up at all. BTW the reason for inflation is not govt printing more dollars-- that's both irrelevant and inconsequential. You could do your business a favor by reading some basic book on macroeconomics.
      • You could do your business a favor by reading some basic book on macroeconomics.

        You could do your personal financial situation a favor by checking out everything the parent poster has to say on the subject, as well as this book which I know he is going to point you to: http://www.mises.org/money.asp [mises.org]

      • Nearly all people that seriously study economics agree that inflation is due to increased money supply. Traditionally people think of physically printing more money as the way to increase money supply. These days, the increased money supply is more a result of government interest rates.

      • Yeah, I wish I understood how inflation rates are calculated. Heating costs have doubled for many people in the last several years--that's hundreds of dollars a year. My health insurance went up about 10% this year--again, potentially hundreds per year. My mortgage escrow also went up about 10% (taxes and insurance). Yet, the newscasts still say inflation is amost non-existent. I suspect that inflation is much much higher for some people, and the average must work out fairly low.
        • The inflation figure that the government (the BLS) creates is based on BS. Robert Blumen has a great article [lewrockwell.com] regarding this manipulation. They swap out numbers at will to hide the fact that they're creating money out of thin air, and depreciating the value of your money. The stock market has only gone up 500% in 90 years in terms of real value because of money printing.

          There are a few links to Rothbard's book in this entire thread. It is a free and tiny e-book, I'd highly recommend reading it.
          • That article isn't great. It's a pile of shit.

            The BLS had nothing to do with the 2004 election and the article has nothing to prove those ridiculous claims. Is this supposed to be satire? Or some sort of analogy? The author should know that analogies are supposed to make things clearer, not more confusing. Elections aren't economics and trying to compare the two is simply disingenuous.

            The article links to LaRouche material to prove the BLS manipulates the CPI. The LaRouche material relies on ONE example t
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 09, 2006 @02:55PM (#14884570)
      They should kidnap people like you and force them to major in Economics at a Real School. Then you might not do so much harm to the world.
      • You don't understand. Real Schools are part of the conspiracy, and the Economis they teach you are what THEY want you to believe. GP knows better; in fact, he knows everything. That's why they want to shut him up.

        (Incidentally, that is also why I'm mocking him; I work for the conspiracy and we're scared shitless he might convince you).
    • by Otter (3800) on Thursday March 09, 2006 @02:55PM (#14884575) Journal
      The big problem in the States is the government's crazy dollar creation (what we call inflation is directly caused by the Fed's out of control printing of dollars). This inflation creates cost of living increases (including the housing bubble in my opinion).

      I strongly advise getting a passport and going to see how the rest of the world lives if you think 2-3% inflation is out of control.

      • Actually, you Americans have such a low inflation rate despite the amount of paper money printed by your central bank because most of this paper ends up in the dollar reserves of foreign central banks. This happens because all those foreign central banks believe that having tons of dollar bills stored equals their countries being "rich" (much in the same way as the XVII century merchantilists believed that having tons of gold stored away meant their countries were "rich"). Since all these bills aren't runni
        • This happens because all those foreign central banks believe that having tons of dollar bills stored equals their countries being "rich" (much in the same way as the XVII century merchantilists believed that having tons of gold stored away meant their countries were "rich"). Since all these bills aren't running around in the real American economy, they don't make prices go up.

          This is so true, and most people do not realize this. Our economy is _very_ fragile because of these foreign stores of our cash. I
    • I certainly agree raises are not an entitlement,
      and businesses have constraints on how generous they
      can be.

      But one large factor that affects salary costs is
      that hiring for top quality, highly productive people
      is very competitive. You may have to match or beat other
      employer's offers to get them on board and retain them.
      Run of the mill folks may not get raises, but you need
      to make sure your top talent is not walking out the
      door.

    • by tompaulco (629533) on Thursday March 09, 2006 @02:58PM (#14884595) Homepage Journal
      I have a big problem with salaries in the U.S. -- employees believe they have a right to a raise every year, even if they are not providing more service or helping the company with added efficiency.
      Typically, technical employees DO provide more service every year, based on constantly learning how to do what they do better, as well as commonly picking up other skills from surrounding employees. In addition to this, many times, when an employee quits, it is up to the existing employees to pick up the slack, because the company won't hire a replacement, or hires an entry level replacement which can only pick up a small amount of the work that was done by the outgoing person.
      In addition, every year, the cost of living goes up. Many companies consider a Cost of Living Adjustment a raise, but it is absolutely not. It just allows you to maintain the same style of living you had last year. If you do not receive even a Cost of Living Adjustment, your style of living must diminish, and your company is saying to you that you are worth less to them this year than you were last year.
      You mention several things that may be affecting the companies ability to pay raises. Well, that's life. We justify high CEO salaries by saying that they take all the risk in running the business. But in reality this is purest BS. The employees take all the risk because they will be fired, not the CEO. They will not receive raises if money is short. Even if the CEO gets canned, he will get a glorious severance package. Plus, the fact that he was a spectacular failure as a CEO is worth more on a resume than if hw was a spectacular success as a programmer.
      You also mention that businesses have to look long term, over 5 years or more. In publically held companies, I observe that the "public" will not allow them to look more than one quarter in the future. Investors will not allow them to spend more money on research or developing new products. Everything is quarter to quarter financials until the old products you have become obsolete and your business fails.
    • by amightywind (691887) on Thursday March 09, 2006 @03:00PM (#14884608) Journal

      The big problem in the States is the government's crazy dollar creation (what we call inflation is directly caused by the Fed's out of control printing of dollars). This inflation creates cost of living increases (including the housing bubble in my opinion). Because of this inflationary cycle, people demand cost of living increases.

      I agree that the reasoning behind cost of living increases is somewhat circular. But this tail wagging the dog notion of inflation applied during the 1970's when US government fiscal policy was inflationary. That is no longer the case. We have plenty of other problems instead. The housing bubble was encouraged by persistent, historically low interest rates. It enlarged the number of buyers. It allowed people to buy up in value. Those same people continue to flip properties in the virtuous (I say vicious) cycle. Low interest rates are due to the insatiable appetite of export economies (like China and Japan) for US treasuries and other investments. They make enormous profits, they don't consume, so they have nowhere to put their money. You can't 'invest' in over capacity forever. They also have their own real estate speculation problems. At the moment we in the US are partying on their cheap money. Enjoy it while it lasts.


    • You can almost always blame across-the-board cost of living increases on the guys printing the money. Across-the-board prices don't go up unless the money supply goes up. Don't blame your boss for not being able to compensate for these mistakes made by the central banks.

      Blame schmame. Who cares who's to blame? The central bank doesn't give anyone a raise, but your boss does. Inflation is here to stay, and your problem with a small inflation rate doesn't make it go away. Expenses will go up, and the vast
    • I've pointed you before to Nick Corcodilos' Ask the Headhunter [asktheheadhunter.com], which is a great way for salaried employees to start building the important perspective you're talking about. He's got an article about how to handle performance reviews [asktheheadhunter.com] that talks about basing your review on the profit you actually make for the company.

    • by AK Marc (707885) on Thursday March 09, 2006 @03:16PM (#14884721)
      This inflation creates cost of living increases (including the housing bubble in my opinion). Because of this inflationary cycle, people demand cost of living increases.

      The housing bubble was created by a complete lack of confidence in the stock market. The investors then put more money into land, tying up a greater percentage of it and causing the prices to go up. If they sell land to put the money back in the stock market, the market will jump 10% in a month, and the price of land will drop 10-30%. Hopefully they won't all go at once and make the big popping sound.

      But, back to the topic at hand, if you recognize inflation as something that happens, and something that won't go away, I can't see how you complain about raises as a matter of course. The employee costs you the same this year as last if you give them the 2% raise. You say they should get the same, unless they distinguish themselves, so you should be giving them a raise by what you said. However, it seems that you hate the government and take it out on your employees. Like you are trying to convert them to gold-standard nuts or something by blaming their lower wagers each year on the government. But, since it is a factor you are aware of and can correct for, your conscious decision to lower their buying power is the act that hurts them, not inflation.
    • ...if you hadn't slept through Econ 101. Inflation is inevitable. If you don't get a raise, you're getting a pay cut. Welcome to the real world.
    • I have a big problem with salaries in the U.S. -- employees believe they have a right to a raise every year, even if they are not providing more service or helping the company with added efficiency.

      Lets say I put in 110% for the company. Good for me, I get a bonus. The next year I put in that same 'above and beyond' level of effort - but now my effort only pays out bonus - cost of living. Do this for five years and I'm probably better off putting that extra energy into your competitor's company.

      I'd argue
  • Clod (Score:5, Funny)

    by Eightyford (893696) on Thursday March 09, 2006 @02:39PM (#14884440) Homepage
    I don't even have a job you insensitive clod!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    But Boeing's engineers enjoy far more transparency about pay levels and their review system due to collective bargaining agreements between Boeing and the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace union (SPEEA). SPEEA represents about 22,000 engineers, the majority of whom work in the Northwest.

    This whole article is just another call for collective bargaining agreements and a union.
    • by QMO (836285)
      Show me a union where the leaders of the union are actually currently working in the jobs that they claim to represent, make within a standard deviation of the mean income of the union members, and recieve no compensation for leading the union, and I might agree, for that particular union, anyway.

      Some people argue that the union can't function that way, ignoring the fact that not only have unions worked that way, but they were started that way. Unions don't stay that way because they are so easily corrupti
  • FYI (Score:4, Informative)

    by cloudkj (685320) on Thursday March 09, 2006 @02:44PM (#14884477)
    I'm a new grad and Microsoft was one of the offers I was considering. AFAIK, the starting base salary is $75,500 for entry-level positions (SDE/SDET/STE/PM). There's a negligible signing bonus ($500?), but that's about it. As far as base salary goes, although Microsoft is competitive, other tech companies easily overshadow them with additional bonuses and/or stocks.
    • have you even looked at the benefits in addtion to the base salary?
      • Re:FYI (Score:2, Informative)

        by cloudkj (685320)
        Of course, and I would argue the Microsoft benefits are a big factor in drawing in potential employees. They have great health insurance and retirements plans, an employee stock purchasing plan, and tons of extra employee perks such as free membership to one of the top-rated sports clubs in the country. But we're mainly talking about salary here, and that's why I pointed it out. For some reason, it sounds like you are a disgruntled Microsoft employee that took offense at my remark about the lower compensati
        • Well, I am a Microsoft employee, but far from disgruntled :) Like you, I am a new grad, and honestly, I have no reason to complain as far as the salary or the perks go. It could be much much worse than this. Good luck at wherever you chose to go instead!
    • Re:FYI (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tompaulco (629533)
      Wow, that's more than I get with 17 years of experience. You'll pardon me if I don't weep for the poor Microsoft employees.
    • *cough* (Score:3, Funny)

      by turgid (580780)

      the starting base salary is $75,500 for entry-level positions

      Ouch. That made my eyes water. At today's exchange rate, that's nearly 43,500 pounds sterling.

      I earn a lot less than that, but at least I never have to touch Windows, and the Windows people in the office bow and scrape at my feet and address me as "Mr. Unix Genius."

      That in itself is worth many thousands a year.

      Time for my pills.

  • by digitaldc (879047) * on Thursday March 09, 2006 @02:44PM (#14884479)
    "I love working at Microsoft but cannot stay in an environment where I am treated shabbily and afforded no opportunity to defend myself against such treatment."

    So are we to deduce that this person at one point loved working in an environment where they were treated shabbily and could not defend themselves? Or they did not know this was the culture at Microsoft and later found out the hard way?

    The whole quote about favouritism in reviews (unfortunately) rings true about many companies, not just Microsoft. My advice is if you are unhappy - leave, no one is forcing them to work for Microsoft. And it might just be the best move of your life.
    • The reason they don't leave is because they are overpaid. If a worker is being underpaid, leaving their place of employment is not such a chore because they are confident they can find other work that provides equal or better pay.

      When an employee knows they are overpaid, is unsatisfied with their job but has not vacated, it's usually indicitative that they know they will not be paid as much in another position. So next time you hear someone complaining about their employment but vacated for a lengthy peri

  • It is a free market system, so they can always get a new job and be released by a "contractor" or summer intern. Assuming they do not have issues because of kids, preconditions, or some other factor that renders them unable to perform the way economic theory says they should.
  • by marlinSpike (894812) on Thursday March 09, 2006 @02:46PM (#14884503)
    For all the talk about the economy picking up, jobs being plentiful and it being an employee's market, I have to say the raises for the past few years have been dismal at best. A raise of about 3% has been pretty much standard this year, which doesn't even keep up with inflation, let alone the rising cost of keeping your home (presuming you've bought one in this crazy market).
    The value of my home just went up by $146,000 this year alone -- and before you start accusing me of being too greedy, know that I'm not interested in selling, just living here. All that extra value is pure fluff, the stuff that dot-com stocks were made of. The problem is, I'm being forced to pay property taxes that are going up at the rate of 25% a year just to keep my house. Fat chance trying to find a job where my income increases commensurately.
    I've no idea what to do, and I'm seriously considering moving to India, and joining the growing contingent of foreign workers there.
    Somebody explain to my why it seems that despite the dollar figure of my salary that's far above what my parents earned at my age, I still feel poorer.... and I'm a good saver!
    • by windowpain (211052) on Thursday March 09, 2006 @03:13PM (#14884688) Journal
      Here's one reason you're feeling poorer: You're being gouged on property taxes. In my neighborhood the market price of condos has more than tripled in the past seven years. If tax rates remain the same that means taxes have tripled. But have school enrollments tripled? Have police salaries tripled? Have there been three times as many fires? No, no and no. Rising real estate prices have become a money grab for politicians. You need to get involved with your local politics and insist that property tax rates be adjusted downward so that what you pay reflects the true cost of delivering municipal services.
    • The value of my home just went up by $146,000 this year alone -- and before you start accusing me of being too greedy, know that I'm not interested in selling, just living here. All that extra value is pure fluff, the stuff that dot-com stocks were made of. The problem is, I'm being forced to pay property taxes that are going up at the rate of 25% a year just to keep my house.

      This is why property taxes applied to residential homes are simply a flawed concept. Unlike almost every single other asset I own, my
    • One good thing about living in California is that the property taxes are limited to the value of the home when you purchased it. I think the law allows some tiny increase every year, but in practice even a tiny increase rarely happens.

      Of course, real estate here is insanely expensive, so any new buyers are paying quite a bit. Some retired person who bought their house back in the 1950s, however, is probably only paying about $150 a year in property taxes. That's generally a good thing, in my opinion, beca
  • Its very simple... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by helix_r (134185) on Thursday March 09, 2006 @02:50PM (#14884545)

    Its all very simple: if you are paid below your worth, look for an employer that will pay what you are worth. If you can't find one then adjust your concept of what you are worth.

    There. One could even make a flowchart of that.

  • by Andr0s (824479) <dunkelzahn@rocketmail.com> on Thursday March 09, 2006 @02:51PM (#14884546)
    To be honest, I don't see a lot of reason for discontent over 'stagnant' pay comming from rank and file workers at Microsoft. I haven't noticed any major fluctuations within IT job market as a whole when it comes to pay rates in the last two years. And the whole situation becomes even less surprising if one takes into account these two factors:

    Company size. Microsoft is not a small business, nor medium, nor even a large one. It's humongous. Thus, it is not really practical to talk about giving raises to i.e. top 5% or 10% performance employees like so many other companies do. In fact, even giving raises to just top 1% of employees still would bump the salary budget significantly every year.

    Benefits. From what Net has been saying for years now, Microsoft's benefits and policies really don't suck. From stock options to silly things like 'nap time' during work hours, being a med-level employee for Microsoft doesn't seem to be really all that bad. Just as you check 401K and other benefits when considering work for Sun, IBM or any other IT (or non-IT) company, so too you should consider Microsoft's benefits before you complain about your stagnant pay.

    Regarding elements of the article I find interesting: According to employees, who said they would be fired if they spoke on the record, the annual review amounts to little more than a closed-door popularity contest in which managers "fight" for higher scores for their team, or defer to higher-level decision makers who mandate how many workers drop to the bottom of the review scale. - this is definitely nothing unusual. In fact, if my manager didn't fight tooth and nail to prove that me and my team are better than other teams and get us raises or bonuses, seriously, I wouldn't have too high an opinion of him. Likewise, I have to notice that article focuses on salary itself - there is nothing in it about bonuses and incentives that I could find. Having a spouse who works for a major IT industry, I have to say I'm regularly stunned by the sums on her 'chrismas checks', 'yearly performance bonuses' and other 'small' things like that - they certainly make a significant portion of her yearly income (and regularly mess up our taxes, too).
    • To be honest, I don't see a lot of reason for discontent over 'stagnant' pay coming from rank and file workers at Microsoft.

      I'm glad you're honest.

      When your company has a "best year ever" because you busted your ass and you don't get a raise, you might not work as hard the next year.

      A company has obligations to it's customers, it's owners and it's employees. If it ever screws one, it will eventually get around to screwing them all. That's what happens when you think it's OK to screw people. Microsoft

  • by Drogo007 (923906) on Thursday March 09, 2006 @02:53PM (#14884557)
    "Large corporation with enormous bureaucracy has internal politics" Where's the story?

    Yeah, I worked for MS for 5 years. Yes the review system runs largely on Politics - those who play the game get the rewards. How is this different from 99% of the rest of corporate America?

    MS takes pretty darn good care of it's employees (my salary at MS was anywhere from 150% to 200% of industry standard for my position depending on whose numbers you looked at, and that doesn't even count top notch health benefits). In return, they expect you to buy into the company culture that your job is your only priority. I knew guys who would set up their Outlook to send emails at 2 and 3 in the morning to give the impression they were working late. I had a manager who's only measure of an employee's worth was whether or not they were working at least 10 hours of "overtime". Our Society as a whole tends to reward appearance over substance 9 times our of 10. Why is it a shock when corporations follow suit. If you were willing to spend the time and effort to play the game, you too could get the rewards. Personally, I couldn't stand the Company Culture at MS and that's why I'm not working there anymore and will not be working there for a long, long time (if ever) if I can help it. But just because that culture doesn't jive with my own standards and priorities doesn't make it immoral or illegal.

    Now, there's business practices of upper management that are a whole other story as far as immoral and illegal, but I'm not getting into that here.

    Heh, reminds me of my favorite joke while I was working there "The day Microsoft sells something that doesn't suck is the day Microsoft starts selling Vacuum Cleaners".
  • by Bug-Y2K (126658) on Thursday March 09, 2006 @02:57PM (#14884590) Homepage
    Or, in the words of Bill Clinton circa 1992: "It's the economy stupid!"

    My earnings have been flat since 2000, and significantly lower than what I made in 1997-8. The same (mostly) can be said for my staff. If I could pay them more, I would in a heartbeat, but we haven't been able to raise prices in 6 years, so revenues have grown, right along with costs which means profits remain... dismal. If I gathered up all the profit our company has made in the past 6 years, I MIGHT be able to purchase a small Korean sedan. Instead I've done what any smart employer can do, which is give rasies where I can (which means NOT to me sadly) and plowed the rest of it back into the company. We should all be earning 40% more than we are, but we're not. Deal with it.

  • by scolby (838499) on Thursday March 09, 2006 @02:58PM (#14884598) Journal
    ...it has to be with all the chairs soaring through the hallways.
  • Start over. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by neo (4625) on Thursday March 09, 2006 @03:01PM (#14884620)
    Companies that are owned by stock holders are only interested in profits, and then only as a way to boost stock share prices enough for them to sell for a gain. That means companies with stock holders do stupid things like fire 30% of their staff to make a profit or create short term gains at the cost of long term growth, thus threatening everyone's jobs.

    I'd suggest anyone working for such a company to quit. [quityourjobday.com]

    The company has no long term investment in you and would fire you in a minute if it meant their bottom line would increase their stock values. Half the time they aren't even looking to be more profitable... they just want to increase stock prices. The trend of not paying dividends has left public held companies in bad standing.

    What you should be looking for is a small company that will value you and where replacing you would be painful and where making you a better and empowered worker wont threaten the employer with ideas that you'll run away with your new found skills.

    Or better yet, start your own company. If you are working for a company (if a company pays you) you're obviously worth twice that. They can't make a profit on you if you aren't.
    • Re:Start over. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by windowpain (211052) on Thursday March 09, 2006 @03:37PM (#14884875) Journal
      You're so confused about basic economics it's hard to know where to start. But I'll try.

      "Companies that are owned by stock holders are only interested in profits"

      As opposed to companies owned by whom? Most businesses, even small ones, are incorporated, which means they're owned by stockholders. Stockholder is just another word for "owner". Sole proprietorships and partnerships also have owners.

      "That means companies with stock holders do stupid things like fire 30% of their staff to make a profit"

      Sometimes, firing 30 percent of the staff is exactly what needs to be done. Somtimes the percentage should be higher. Sometimes making a profit does not require any firings. It's absurd to make a blanket statement that firing people to increase profits is stupid.

      "The company has no long term investment in you"

      Says who? Which company? A company might not have a long term investment in a particular employee. Or it might subsidize that employee's education like my company does, making me not only more valuable to them but more competitive in the jobs marketplace.

      "Half the time they aren't even looking to be more profitable... they just want to increase stock prices."

      And exactly how does a company increase its stock price without increasing profits? Both increased profits and increased stock prices represent increases in shareholder value, which is a company's primary fiduciary (i.e., legal and moral) responsibility to its shareholders.

      "What you should be looking for is a small company"

      I prefer working for small companies but working for big companies has distinct advantages. It's foolish to make a one-size-fits-all statement that small companies are always better.

      "Or better yet, start your own company."

      Great idea. But then you'd be one of those greedy shareholders.

      "If you are working for a company (if a company pays you) you're obviously worth twice that. They can't make a profit on you if you aren't."

      Karl Marx called and left a message for you re: the surplus value of wages. "Keep fighting the good fight comrade. Seventy five years of abject failure in the Soviet Union does nothing to disprove my theories."
      • Re:Start over. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by geekoid (135745)
        Since the fall of soviet russia has nothing to do with Marxism, or Communism, you quote is out of place.

        I think his points are addressed more accuratly by saying the people who control a corporation are only interested in short term profits as opposed to long term viability. Usually corporation where the people in charge are no longer the founders.

        That is not good for the long term viability for any organization.

        Yes, I do relize this is a generalization, but it happens a lot.

  • Blame Bill (Score:5, Funny)

    by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Thursday March 09, 2006 @03:11PM (#14884678) Homepage Journal
    Bill Gates obviously thinks 64k should be enough for anybody.
  • by Electric Eye (5518) on Thursday March 09, 2006 @03:20PM (#14884750)
    I don't think MS is anything special here. This bullshit goes on at pretty much every company. You work at a cube farm, you get treated like an animal. Hell, my company sent out a company-wide email last week saying pay raises will be reflected in our next paycheck. There hasn't been one mention of reviews. In fact, reviews are sporadic at my co, apparently. Sometimes January, sometimes March. Eitehr that, or I'm getting fired next week since my boss hasn't mentioned one word about my review.

    If you want control of your own pay, start your own gig. Plain and simple. That's what I'm in the middle of doing. I think it's absurd that millions of people bust their asses from 40-60 hours per week only to get a measly 2-4% annual raise. Why put in the effort for an extra $30 or so a week?
    • You are absolutely correct, starting a "gig" that becomes successful does indeed have more reward than working for Microsoft (now that stock options are thin and Microsoft's stock price increase is tepid). But there is the little caveat above: "becomes successful". In the last few years consultants have either been out of work or struggling. Consulting pay is down. Doing a product oriented startup also has risk, since most startup companies fail. So the rewards that you foresee (and hopefully will ach

    • I think it's absurd that millions of people bust their asses from 40-60 hours per week only to get a measly 2-4% annual raise.

      You shouldn't be working hard to get a raise. You should be working hard to earn your current salary. Isn't that what you are being paid for?

      Tell me why again, you feel you deserve a raise? You agreed to a certain wage - why, all of the sudden, do you feel you deserve more? To buy a new calendar? It doesn't make sense to me that you feel you deserve more money simply because

      • So when inflation goes up %6 annually due to high fuel costs and the housing market is going up much higher that means I get an annual %6 salary cut per year?

        THings are going up in price and everyone else makes more money per year and raises are used to cover the cost of inflation. Why should someone be expected to get a paycut annually while everyone else gets raises?

        I really wonder if its worth it to get involved in IT anymore? Unless you have a quarter million in revenue hanging around to start your own
      • Tell me why again, you feel you deserve a raise? You agreed to a certain wage - why, all of the sudden, do you feel you deserve more? To buy a new calendar? It doesn't make sense to me that you feel you deserve more money simply because another year went by.

        Becuase our employers (generally speaking) would like to retain our services and ensure that we are productive. If I don't get a raise this year, or if I get a raise that is smaller than the cost of living increase in my area, then my effective salar
  • Upside down (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MrNougat (927651) <ckratsch@g m a i l.com> on Thursday March 09, 2006 @03:31PM (#14884828)
    Just like many others have said, I don't see this as news. Microsoft is just like every other big company? Surprise.

    The problem with US companies - perhaps all companies - is that culture is completely upside down. People who run and own companies (executives and shareholders) are interested in more profits today. Or at least this quarter. Short-term, in any event.

    In order to get those short term gains, the company cuts every cost possible. Considering that payroll and benefits is usually the biggest expense to a company, employees (the people doing the work that generates the profit) get to take home only as much as will keep them coming to work tomorrow.

    A longer term view would be of benefit to everyone, including the people at the top who are interested in profits. The first aim of management should be to keep its employees very happy. Those employees will, in turn, keep customers happy. The customers will continue to purchase what you're selling, and will tell their colleagues about how great you are.

    End result? Employees are happy and well-compensated. (Side note: I know that I would be more productive at work if I didn't have to worry about making ends meet at home.) Customers are satisfied and deliver profits with their own purchases and referrals. Management gets big bonuses. Shareholders get a higher value for their stock.

    If your goal is to increase profits, the fallout is having to clean up after a short term gain. If your goal is to increase share value, the fallout is to clean up after shareholders take their short term gains. If your goal is to take good care of your employees, the long term benefits are substantial. This is how Japan took over the US auto industry; with five and ten year plans.

    Unfortunately, it's all too easy for executives in the US to jump from one company to another, squeezing the life out of each until it's time to jump again.
    • The first aim of management should be to keep its employees very happy.

      The first aim of management is to keep their fat jobs. They do that by keeping their bosses happy. At the top of the pyramid is the CEO. He keeps his job by keeping the company owner happy. In a publically traded company that owner is the stockholders. Stockholders (or mutual fund managers) don't give a rat's ass about long term - they want return on investment in a 3-12 month time frame so they can keep their jobs.

      And that is how capita
  • Virus (Score:5, Funny)

    by richie2000 (159732) <rickard.olsson@gmail.com> on Thursday March 09, 2006 @03:31PM (#14884829) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft Salary And Review System

    So in other words, this is MS SARS. Am I wrong in thinking that they claim that Windows Defender can cure it, or at least inoculate against it?

  • If it doesn't make Bill any money...it ain't happening.

    And paying other people more than they're getting now doesn't make him any money - in his opinion, at least.

    The Microsoft employees should form a charitable foundation and let Bill "donate" his stock to it. Then he'd go for it since he could use it as a PR and stock laundering and corporate investment scheme like he does his own foundation. The employees could be paid out of the income of the foundation like the charities get their money.
  • One employee in the company's Mobile and Embedded Devices group said when it comes to her review score, "my performance is about 10 percent of the whole equation."

    This sounds like what someone that got a bad review would say.
  • by rcastro0 (241450) on Thursday March 09, 2006 @04:28PM (#14885300) Homepage
    Joel Spolsky, who has a nice blog called "Joel on Software [joelonsoftware.com]",
    wrote a very thought provoking article back in 2000. It is
    called "Incentive Pay Considered Harmful [joelonsoftware.com]".
    He discusses how *not* to manage smart, highly educated employees.
    Since Joel is a programmer who used to work at MS, his case comes directly
    from Redmond.
  • by penguin-collective (932038) on Thursday March 09, 2006 @07:58PM (#14887160)
    The way this works at big companies is pretty simple.

    Everybody is evaluated; the evaluation is political, it's painful, and managers don't want to do it, so the results are less than perfect. You should worry if you end up near the bottom, but that's all.

    But, in the end, it doesn't matter that much: when times are good, those curves move up and everybody gets a raise.

    When times are not so good, nobody gets a raise, except for people who manage to negotiate one. That's the situation Microsoft is in, because although they are still looking good financially, they know they're in trouble.

    How do you negotiate a raise? You get a better offer from somewhere else and negotiate. If your company wants to keep you, they'll make a counteroffer. If you made yourself a nuisance or if they think you're not that useful, they'll wish you good luck in your new job.

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