How to ask for a pay rise

It’s an encounter you may want to avoid, but sometimes a pay rise is very much deserved. Here’s how to approach that difficult conversation
by Bethan Rees

If you’re unsure about asking for a pay rise, a June 2018 report from salary research and comparison website, PayScale, might sway your decision. According to a survey of 160,060 US workers, 70% of employees who asked for a pay rise received one, with 39% receiving the amount they requested. The other 31% still received a raise, but it was less than the amount they asked for. 

If you have verifiable reasons as to why your work is worth more your current salary, and you haven’t had a raise recently, then approaching the subject shouldn’t be awkward. There are, however, appropriate ways to go about it. 
Be preparedWhen asked by Forbes to share the best way to ask for a raise, Beth Monaghan, CEO and co-founder of public relations firm InkHouse, said: “The best approach to asking for a raise is to focus on deserving one versus needing one. Too often, people argue that a raise is important because of very real costs in their lives. However, an employer is looking to give raises based on performance.”

Start by re-reading your job description and write down all the ways you have fulfilled and exceeded your role. Include examples and figures to demonstrate how your work has benefited the company. Highlight any additional responsibilities that might not be in your original job description. Ensure you write everything down, as the final decision may not rest with your immediate manager. 
Do your researchYou’re more likely to get a pay rise if you request a realistic amount. There are plenty of ways to find out what similar organisations offer for a comparable role: Reed, Glassdoor and PayScale are great places to help calculate your appropriate salary. 

Be wary of referring to how much your colleagues are paid, as you may not have wholly correct information. Finally, be prepared to negotiate. Perhaps there’s no chance of a raise now, but you could request benefits such as a gym membership or help with travel costs. 
Timing is everything Every employer has different procedures, so make sure you’re clued up about your company’s pay practices before you arrange a meeting.

In an article for The Balance Careers, HR specialist and management consultant Susan Heathfield advises employees: “The [employee] handbook may present the process whereby pay raises are granted. If a policy or a process exists, your best bet when asking for a pay raise is to follow the process exactly. If the handbook states that your employer will only offer a pay raise annually, you may put in time and energy to prepare to ask for a raise that is not available.”

Equally, use your common sense when organising a review with your boss. A blog on training course website Learning People, written by journalist Jennifer Le Roux, says you should “consider the time of day and any looming deadlines that may be putting your boss under pressure. Asking for a raise first thing on a Monday morning or on the day of an important deadline is a no go. You also don’t want to spring this on your boss at 5pm on a Friday either”.

You’re more likely to be successful if your boss can consider your proposal when they have a dedicated amount of time and, ideally, no looming deadlines. In terms of the bigger picture, think about the current financial state of the company and the industry market, too. For example, if you have had a recent company or team meeting about the business having to make cuts or redundancies, common sense will tell you that the budget isn’t flexible at the moment. 
The meetingClare Moore, head of marketing at People First, told Business Insider: “Yes, it can be nerve-wracking and intimidating, but if you feel strongly that you should be paid more, then the worst thing you can do is remain silent as you will start to feel resentful and it could impact workplace relations.”

Be confident about what you deserve, and if the meeting doesn’t go to plan then continue working with a positive attitude, as this can only be beneficial to future negotiations. 
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Published: 16 Nov 2018
  • Career Development
  • The Review
  • appraisal
  • pay rise
  • Career advice

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