Why you deserve a pay rise – and what to do about it (Part 1)
It’s the subject matter we are all so afraid to bring up. So much so that, in our minds, we argue that our employers should offer up the pay rise without us having to ask, and if they don’t, they clearly don’t value us, so we’ll go looking for another job.
Ever think like that? The fear of asking for a pay rise causes us to feel undervalued by our employers, whether or not it is true, for our productivity to drop and ultimately for us to look elsewhere for employment. Other than our salary, most of us are happy where we work, but that fear of asking causes a chain reaction that ultimately leads to our unhappiness and decision to leave.
The first thing to remember is that your decision to leave based solely on salary is going to lead to months of uncertainty while you seek alternative employment, update your CV, speak to recruiters, apply for jobs, receive many fewer responses, question your CV, get the job interviews, prepare for the interviews, and agonise over the whole process (“Why did I say my biggest weakness is chocolate biscuits?”). Then, when you do get a job, you have your notice period to see out, all while your commitment level has dropped and your bosses wonder why you’re leaving and why you didn’t just come and talk to them. And the old saying is true: the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.
Now, if there are other reasons why you are unhappy at work, then the process of looking for another job may well be worth it, but if you haven’t even asked for that pay rise, how can you possibly make such a huge decision?
So, let’s first establish whether you are worth the pay rise. Well of course you are, but have you done enough to show your bosses that you deserve it? So you’ll want a pen and paper and to make a list of your achievements. Your achievements will most likely determine when you raise the issue, and bear in mind, if you don’t feel convinced by your list of achievements, you’re going to struggle to convince your bosses. So, let’s look at some examples of the type of employee you might be and when you might ask:
Are you a work-horse who has hit your target for the year? The likelihood is that if you have, your target will be raised and therefore so should your salary. Most firms have yearly reviews and this is the time to raise the question of pay rise, particularly if this is when your target is set. If your target isn’t raised, then have the confidence to say you want your target raised and a pay rise in proportion to it. Keep it realistic, of course, and you’ll have to show your bosses that you can achieve that new target, but you’ll also show confidence and commitment.
Do you go beyond hitting your target? Do you get involved in business development and marketing initiatives? Have you established yourself as a rain-maker or are you well on your way there? Are you a team player and problem solver, offering your help and abilities to colleagues? Do you regularly cross-sell the other services of the firm and bring in business that way? In that case you could well be one of the firm’s Most Valuable Players and, so long as you’ve got the confidence, any time of the year is the right time to ask for that raise. You might be tempted to wait for review time, but why? Have your list to hand and arrange a meeting with your boss. The list should be not just a confidence booster for you in the meeting, but your every argument for why you should get the pay rise you are worth.
The fact is that if you are an MVP, the chances are that your boss will know this and will be looking at ways of keeping you happy. They will also know that, if you can perform at this level for them, then you can certainly do it for a competitor and their response to your request will determine your next move.
The response that “times are hard” should no longer cut the mustard, particularly with an MVP. While we are not yet back to the heady days of the mid-2000s, we are definitely not still in recession and things are on the up for most firms. If you are ticking all the boxes and performing well beyond your targets, then problems elsewhere in the firm should not impact on your career development and reward. Having said that, be mindful that if your firm isn’t doing well, you may have to accept that the answer may well be no but other benefits could be suggested in order to make up the shortfall.
But what if you’re not a fee earner? What if your role isn’t set a monetary target? You contribute to the overall success of the business and you work damn hard, so why shouldn’t your efforts be rewarded?
For those of you who fall into that bracket, you’ll need to do a bit more background work and you’ll still want that pen and paper to list your achievements. Have a look at the market, what else is out there and what positions like yours at similar firms are paying. Take a look at what the next tier of firms are paying If you are convinced that your work is so good that you could make the step up, then it’s important to understand your worth and make sure your boss recognises the value of your contribution to the firm.
Armed with that information, go to your boss and let them know what you are thinking: you are not looking to leave, but you want your contribution to be rewarded. You owe it to yourself and them to have the conversation. You also need to know the value your employer places on the work you do.
Bearing in mind that replacing you comes at a cost to the business (recruitment fees, induction days, learning the system, settling in time), you are not going to them with a problem, but with a solution where everyone wins. You will find out whether the work you are doing really is that good and whether your bosses really value your work.
In Part 2, we’ll look at some tips for asking for that pay rise. For now, it’s important to remember is that you shouldn’t be afraid of asking. If you really feel you are worth it, then this is just another part of being in business and, by not asking, you and the business both suffer.