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Microsoft to raise workers' wages -- Changes to affect Fargo employees

SEATTLE - Microsoft is making its largest investment ever to increase employee compensation.

In an email sent to all employees Thursday morning, including those at the campus in Fargo, Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer said, "Today we're announcing changes that will benefit our employees by sharpening the clarity of our performance review process and increasing compensation. These changes represent the most significant investment in overall compensation we have ever made."

Microsoft declined to comment further on the amount of increases employees would receive or how much the company will invest in the raises.

The changes will increase how large of a raise employees can qualify for when they go through performance reviews.

The changes will affect employees at the south Fargo Microsoft campus.

Nearly 900 employees work at the Fargo campus, said Katie Hasbargen, senior communications manager for Microsoft in Fargo. More than 500 vendors also work at the 81-acre campus that includes an in-house café and company store.

Employees now receive a stock award, and some of that award will be converted to cash instead. Microsoft's stock has changed little in the past 10 years, something that investors and employees have been grumbling about.

The company is also changing its performance review system, so employees will be ranked by a single rating system of 1-5, rather than having multiple ratings for different measures.

Ballmer wrote that Microsoft is making the changes to stay competitive in the job market: "The changes we're rolling out today will help ensure Microsoft continues to be the place that top talent comes to change the world."

Hasbargen said the Fargo campus is now in a hiring cycle.

"We have been doing a lot of hiring. We have over 60 jobs open at the Fargo campus right now," she said.

The Forum contributed to this report.