How to get a pay rise

Thu, Jun 7, 2012

Financial Advice

We all know that times are hard – for individuals and businesses alike. Inflation is rising higher than wages, and prices are really putting the squeeze on families. So how do you go about asking for a pay rise when businesses are making it quite clear that there’s nothing left in the pot? Here are some tactics that I’ve seen people use – and some of which I have used myself – to ensure that you are paid what you are worth.

Put your request in at the start of the year

By putting your request in early, you ensure that your remuneration is at the forefront of the performance management process. This means that you will be effectively aligning it to your performance, but performance-related pay is potentially the future of remuneration. Say that you feel you are worth more than your salary on the current, increasingly lively, job market, and that you would like to remain with the business and develop within it. Along with your line manager, develop a strategy that allows for pay rises or bonuses depending on targets, and get it in writing.

Schedule regular performance reviews

It’s up to you now. Ensure that you schedule your line manager in for regular reviews of your performance and your targets to date, and regularly discuss remuneration possibilities (if you have met your targets). It’s important that you are seen to be proactive, and that your targets are aligned to overall business goals. Equally, it’s important that you don’t over-do the performance reviews. Keep it biannual or quarterly so that you have sufficient progress to discuss.

Don’t work harder, work smarter

Pay rises go to those who have made an impact on the bottom line – not those who have worked the most. Remember that, even if you have to stay late ‘just to impress the boss’, the most important fact is what you have done to improve the business from a financial point of view. Therefore, when setting your targets, aim for growth – and aim to prove the impact of those targets so that you’re impressing the person who will sign off your pay rise – the Finance Director. 

Be realistic, and be nice

Two things – but they do go hand in hand. Be realistic about your pay expectations. You’re not going to double your salary in a year – but you can work in regular increments. Equally, don’t ambush the boss every week asking where your pay rise is. Keep the discussion to those regular reviews that you have scheduled, and don’t lose your cool. If you don’t feel you’re getting anywhere, this will lead me to the final point:

Learn how to negotiate

Brinksmanship is an art, and a dangerous game to play. However, threatening to leave a business could lead you to either a pay rise – or the exit door. Look at the number of sports stars who have demanded pay rises, only for the club to decide that they’re better off without that person. So learn how to negotiate well – watch your body language, keep positive, and keep chipping away. If there’s really no money in the pot, then find out what alternatives there are to cash – perhaps better benefits, perhaps some tax relief through benefits instead? There are plenty of options.

Above all, remember that employers need employees. If you’re good at your job, and you believe you’re being paid below your worth, then you have every opportunity to make that point. The job market is starting to get a little more lively at the moment, which means that businesses are facing a ‘war for talent’ where your skills and experience are the prize on offer. The money’s there – now go get it!

About the author: Gareth Cartman blogs regularly about HR and employment, and is currently working with HR and Payroll provider Ceridian.

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