We Can Work It Out

September 28, 2011

I had mentioned in a previous post that I ask for cost of living increases every now and then.  Technically, at some of my contracted facilities, I can just let them know that I’m raising my rate, but not all.  There are budgets to deal with, CFOs to check with, and relationships to consider when asking for a raise.

My first job out of college was at a geri-psych unit.  I worked there one day a week (Sundays) and shortly thereafter began working full-time at an AL for people with dementia, then a psych unit, then a nursing home, then a day program, then a hospice organization…the list goes on.  At times, I was working seven days a week.  As time passed, word traveled from the geri-psych unit (SAU – Senior Adult Unit) to other affiliated places, and created more contracts for me.  The SAU eventually gave me more hours, and I grew out of some other jobs, including the AL position.  It gave me a lot more freedom, leaving that job (that I loved for a long time), but I was still working on Sundays, and let’s face it: No one wants to work six days a week.

After many past attempts, I recently (again) suggested a possible schedule change to the nurse manager at the SAU, saying that I have been working on Sundays for five years and I need to be done now (please?).  I was surprised when she told me that we can talk about it and that I should send her a proposal for a new schedule.  In this same conversation, I also brought up the subject of a cost of living increase.  I said, “Remember two years ago when I asked for a cost of living increase…”  She answered my question before I asked it, and told me to write her a proposal for that too.  That was easy.

I hadn’t heard from her in several days and was mildly worried that she was going to say no to everything I proposed, so yesterday when I was there, I went to talk to her.  Without me saying a word, she said that she forwarded my e-mail to the guy in charge of these things and told me that the raise I asked for was probably a little high, but that “Thats a good negotiating technique” and that I might get it anyway.

I’ve become much better at negotiating over the past few years.  It’s something that grows with experience, I think.  When the Activities Director at an SNF told me (regarding my current starting rate, which at the time I highballed at $70/hour) that they could only afford to have me come once a month, I asked her what the most she could pay was if I came twice a month.  She told me $60/hour.  All of a sudden, I was making $120 more a month than I had before, the nursing home could afford it in their tiny Activities Department budget, and I was actually happy with the rate we agreed upon, considering this is a small facility and the woman seemed desperate for MT services.  I also decided to hold off on raising my rate at another place I work at because they recently decided to schedule me every week instead of every other week, after two years, and I don’t want to push things.  When you’re self-employed, you want to keep your contracts happy.

Anyway, the nurse manager at the SAU also said that my proposed schedule, which is a M, W, F schedule was fine.  She also said that the Sunday people would miss me, but that – and this is significant – it’s more important for her to keep me happy. We’ll see what happens with the raise…

When you are responsible, do good work, call when you’re going to be late, give advanced notice for vacation time and other missed days, and everything else I mentioned in this post (which I linked to at the beginning of this one also – hint, hint) people want to give you things, and negotiate. Not because they want to give you things or negotiate, but because they want to “keep you happy” so you’ll work there as long as possible.  The only issue there, is that usually, at work (another word of wisdom from the SAU nurse manager):

“No-one’s going to give you anything unless you ask.”

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