How and when to ask for a pay rise

Mar 15, 2022

In my 12 years of working in HR within big global companies like Groupon, Hearst Magazines, Arcadia and Ogilvy, I've had 100's of employees ask me about a pay rise. Here is what I've learned about getting the answer you want and deserve.

 1. Be aware of the conditions.

During the pandemic, the current conditions have seen organisations thriving or barely surviving. While many are starting to make a comeback, take a moment to recognise the circumstances of your organisation. Showing some commercial awareness goes a long way and reinforces your knowledge of the business. While the circumstances shouldn't necessarily stop you from asking for a pay rise, it should inform your tone and approach.

2. Understand the process and the decision-maker.

Most companies will have a specific time of year (sometimes twice a year) to review compensation. Do your homework and understand the timings to make your case or restate your case at a time when it is at the front of decision-makers mind.

Seek to understand who the decision lies with and the criteria against which your request will be reviewed.

3. Do your homework (and make sure it's relevant)

It's true that salary increases within a company can often be slow and incremental. However, consider what they would be expecting to pay if the business were to hire from the market for your role. Showing that you know your value in the market will strengthen your position.

 The internet now holds salary surveys and benchmarking for every industry, location, and role. Research the current benchmarks for your position. Find information comparable to your organization's size, so it's truly relevant. Be aware that salary data fluctuates year on year based on supply and demand, so stay up to date with the market.

Do your homework internally as well. Most companies use benchmarking data with bands and a structure. You are entitled to know where you sit against internal benchmarks– don't hesitate to ask for this to be fully explained.

4. Mindset matters

Get mindset right. Why are you asking for this money? Get clear on that. Is it directly linked to your motivation? Is it because an increased salary will enable something meaningful in your life? Connect back to your why. Understand the value of this request to you personally. Feeling confident in this will give you confidence and conviction when stating your case.

Take time to remember your achievements and remember why your skills, knowledge and experience matter and are needed.

5. Step away from the email!

Always have the conversation. While you may feel confident and in control articulating your point of view over email however, I would always advise having a face-to-face conversation (zoom to zoom if need be). You'll find that this creates a more meaningful two-way discussion on the matter. Plus, it stops you fretting about 'will they, won't they reply?'

6. Be intentional

This is the one I see most, so top tip… don't make your request the last agenda point on your weekly one-to-one with your manager. Instead, request a separate meeting to talk about your salary. This shows intention and committed action. You deserve the space to put forward your point of view and request.

7. Go for it.

If you've done all of the above, you've prepared and presented yourself and your case honestly and confidently. If you're still worried, remember that HR and managers are employees of the company. They've been in this exact situation in their career at some point as well and will be able to relate.

Whatever the response, you'll have showcased your value, reconnected with what's important to you and have confidently put yourself forward. Trust me, you'll be on the right radar.

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