Asking for a pay rise can seem an awkward subject, and many feel they are lucky just to have a job. But even in an uncertain market, employers want to retain the people who generate revenue and save costs. If you really are being undervalued, you could be passing up a significant opportunity by staying quiet.
Do you deserve it?
So, do you have a case for a pay rise? Although you may work harder and longer hours than those around you, you won’t necessarily be able to command a stronger salary. Your prospects for a pay increase depend on two things: your future performance and the current market for people of your skill set. You will need to present a solid business case for your appeal, and demonstrate how you are worth more to your employer than your current salary and benefits warrant.
Your own happiness does carry some leverage – it costs money to hire and re-train a replacement if you leave – but avoid threats of leaving and mentioning job offers from elsewhere.
If you think you have a strong case, the first step is to prepare your evidence. Document your achievements in a physical folder, this will not only help when making your own case but can also aid your boss when it comes to fighting your corner with senior management. There are a number of resources online to check how your salary matches up to others in your field – remember to take into account regional differences and additional benefits.
Timing is everything
The next step is to schedule a meeting with your boss, letting him or her know that you want to talk about something important. Try to meet earlier on in the day when your boss’ energy levels are higher – research from Columbia University found that 65 per cent of prisoners appealing for parole in the morning were approved, compared to less than 10 per cent who appealed later. And only 20 per cent were approved just before the judge ate lunch, compared to 60 per cent just afterwards.
Start the meeting on a positive note. Say why you’re enjoying yourself in your current position, but that you think your performance or the increased demands of your role mean you think you do deserve more. The process needs to be a two-way discussion, ask what the opportunities are by which you can improve your overall package.
Do your research and have a definite figure in mind. Be prepared for objections and questioning as to why you deserve a pay rise in the first place, but also have flexibility. If your employer is struggling financially, they may not be able to offer a salary increase, but might give you additional benefits in lieu, for example, subsidised childcare, health insurance, or support for studying.
If your request is rejected, be sure not to lose your temper or make any heat-of-the-moment ultimatums. Ask your boss what you need to do to get the pay rise you think you deserve. If the response you receive is less than encouraging, it may be time to consider finding a new job – a recent survey found that employees moving to a new role in February 2013 received an average pay rise of 10 per cent.
Have you successfully negotiated with your boss for a pay rise or more benefits? Tell us about your experiences below.