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Pay rises. What’s the best way to ask for one?

It’s true in life that if you don’t ask, you don’t get. So how can you ask for a pay rise in the workplace? We explore the unspoken rules around securing a pay rise at work.

Women in particular, fall behind men when it comes to asking for what they want salary wise. This contributes to the gender pay gap and the fact that women generally earn 17.5% less than men in the same roles. Not good. So here we look at how employees can ask confidently and assertively for more money.

Do your homework

What have you done recently that your boss might not know about? We’re talking proactive, positive steps that make you look like a good investment in your boss’s eyes. Write a list of how you’re fulfilling your role and how you’re going the extra mile for the company.

Build your case

If you feel your list of work achievements could be longer, there are a few ways to strengthen your position at work before asking for a rise.

  • Make positive changes in the office, such as new procedures or work experience schemes.
  • Take ownership of projects and offer to take on new tasks.
  • Bring in new clients or look for ways to secure more business.
  • Boost morale by organising team building exercises like evenings out or lunchtime speakers, cake sales or even charity fundraisers.

What are you worth?

Take a look at comparable salaries for your role. You could do this by checking online for similar roles, calling recruitment agencies or checking this neat tool. Make sure you’re earning the going rate. Think about what you’ve achieved so far in your job and how you might improve upon this over the next year.

Pick your moment

If the company has just had a profits warning or is making redundancies, you might want to put the big discussion on ice for a while until the situation thaws. Running a business is stressful, so you need to find a moment when your boss is likely to respond in a positive manner. A good time is just after you’ve secured a piece of business or before next year’s budgets are allocated.

Face-to-face time

Don’t email your boss with a pay rise request. Talk to them in person and ask if you can have a meeting. It’s good to prepare your boss for the pay rise chat as no one like to be put on the spot, so if you can drop hints or tell them what it’s about in advance, do so. Here’s some more advice from an employer about picking your moment to ask for a pay rise.

What’s in a name?

If you’re looking for a new job title, think about that. Is this more about the money or a promotion? If it is about ‘status’ you’ll need to be clear about that in the meeting.

Don’t offer to resign

Many bosses will not take kindly to idle threats and let’s face it, employees are indispensable – you can be replaced. It could show a lack of commitment to the company and your boss might call you on it.

It’s not you, it’s me

It’s unprofessional to mention that you need the money for personal matters such as sorting the mortgage or paying off a loan. So while it is important to have a figure in mind of what you want, put less energy into talking up the funds and more into what you’re prepared to do to get it.

What if you’re turned down?

Sometimes, a pay rise may not be forthcoming. If this happens, get a list of your employer’s expectations and agree a future date to talk through your progress. If you have an HR department or your manager has a manager, you could challenge the decision by going to them instead. If so, make a note of what happened in the meeting and take action sooner rather than later.

Time for a new job?

If your employer hasn’t met your salary expectations this time, you may feel very disappointed. Some people see this as a good time to look elsewhere – we have plenty of fantastic career roles available in case you’d also like more flexibility in your life. And many professionals even go on to secure a greater salary before taking it to their current employer to see if they can match it. Again, this may be a risky strategy and could be viewed as disloyalty. Tread carefully.

Be positive, no matter what

Whatever the outcome, everyone has to ask for a pay rise from time to time. It will show that you’re able to express yourself confidently and you will feel better once your request is out in the open. It also means that you’re then on the boss’s radar for the next round of pay rises when they occur. So good luck and put your best foot forward!

4 min read