ABC FinanceBlogExpert Tips on How to Approach Asking for a Pay Rise

Expert Tips on How to Approach Asking for a Pay Rise

With the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, many people are looking for ways to make their money go further. As well as using budgeting techniques – such as cutting down on unnecessary spending, like takeaways or entertainment subscriptions – one approach is to ask your employer for a pay rise, ideally at least in line with inflation.

However, many companies are reviewing their bottom line and unfortunately squeezing their outgoings (including employee salaries) as a result, so it pays to be as prepared as you can when approaching these conversations with management or HR. With this in mind, we collaborated with Rich Lesser (Director at leading fintech talent partners EC1 Partners) and Marla J Albertie (human resources director at TruthGroupSpeaks LLC and certified career coach) to share actionable tips on how people can approach asking for a pay rise in 2023 amid the turbulent economy and ongoing cost-of-living crisis.

Read on to find out more…

Asking for a Pay Rise – Approach

Focusing on advice for employees, the experts shared tips on their recommended approach, including phrasing suggestions for conversations with management/HR, and preparation.

What approach would you recommend for employees planning to ask management/HR for a pay rise?

Rich shared that “the important thing here is not to make this a highly emotional or angry confrontation. Have open body language and a calm controlled voice, and remember to smile. Clearly describe why you feel you deserve a pay rise and the amount you are looking for”.

Marla shared 10 steps in her recommended approach when asking for a pay rise:

  1. Prepare and Research:

“Research industry standards and salary ranges for your role and experience level. Identify specific achievements, contributions, and additional responsibilities that justify your request. Prepare a clear, concise, and compelling case for why you deserve a pay raise”.

Rich agreed that you should “research what the external market is paying and use that evidence too”.

  • Schedule a Meeting:

“Request a meeting with your manager or HR to discuss your compensation. Use a professional and polite tone when making the request”.

Rich would “approach this with your line manager during a review or email asking for a meeting and then calmly sit down and discuss”. He recommends to “maybe include HR, or alternatively see how you get on with your line manager before raising with HR”.

  • Opening Statement:

“Begin the conversation by expressing your appreciation for the opportunities and experiences you have had with the company. State that you would like to discuss your compensation and career growth within the organization”.

  • Present Your Case:

“Highlight your accomplishments, contributions, and any additional responsibilities you have taken on. Emphasize how your work has positively impacted the company’s success and objectives. Reference any positive feedback, recognition, or awards you have received”.

Rich added that “you need to be evidence based and list achievements and deliverables that you have met to back up your pay rise”.

  • Discuss Market Value:

“Share your research on industry salary ranges for your role and experience level. Explain how your current salary may not align with the market value of your skills and expertise.

  • Describe Your Growth and Development:

“Discuss your professional growth and any skills or qualifications you have acquired since your last salary review. Emphasize how your increased knowledge and experience bring added value to the organization”.

  • Request a Specific Pay Raise:

“Clearly state the specific pay raise you are seeking, using a reasonable and well-justified figure based on your research. Explain why this increase is appropriate and fair given your contributions and market value”.

  • Show Flexibility:

“Demonstrate flexibility and a willingness to discuss alternative forms of compensation, such as additional benefits, professional development opportunities, or performance-based bonuses”.

  • Active Listening and Response:

“Remain attentive and open to your manager or HR’s response. Listen carefully to their feedback and be prepared to address any concerns they may raise. Maintain a professional and respectful demeanour throughout the conversation”.

Rich added “don’t be afraid of silence and let your manager talk/consider the request. Remember this is something that you have been thinking about for a while, but your manager might not have so be considerate and give them the chance to speak/respond”.

  1. Follow-up and Next Steps:

“Summarize the key points discussed during the meeting. If a decision cannot be reached immediately, inquire about the next steps and when you can expect a response or further discussion”.

What approach would you NOT recommend for employees planning to ask management/HR for a pay rise? 

The experts also shared tips on what to avoid in this scenario. Marla shared 10 things to avoid when asking for a pay rise:

  1. Avoid an entitled or demanding tone:

“Phrases to avoid: ‘I deserve a raise’ or ‘You need to give me a pay increase’. Instead, focus on presenting a well-justified case and discussing your value to the company”.

  • Avoid comparing yourself negatively to others:

“Phrases to avoid: ‘John makes more money than me, so I should get a raise too’. Instead, emphasize your own achievements and contributions without negatively referencing others.

  • Avoid being unprepared or uninformed:

“Do not go into the meeting without researching industry standards or your own accomplishments. Instead, come prepared with relevant information and a clear case for why you deserve a pay raise”.

  • Avoid being confrontational or argumentative:

“Maintain a professional and respectful tone throughout the conversation. Avoid becoming defensive or aggressive if met with questions or challenges”.

  • Avoid making ultimatums or threats:

“Phrases to avoid: ‘If I don’t get a raise, I’m going to quit’ or ‘I’ll start looking for another job if you don’t increase my pay’. Instead, focus on the value you bring to the organization and the benefits of investing in your growth”. Rich agrees “do not threaten to leave unless you mean it, and remember that begging is not a good look”.

  • Avoid nonverbal cues that convey disinterest or disrespect:

“Avoid slouching, crossing your arms, or displaying impatience during the conversation. Maintain eye contact and engage actively in the discussion”.

  • Avoid oversharing personal financial difficulties:

“While it’s okay to discuss financial goals or aspirations, avoid disclosing personal financial struggles as the primary justification for a raise”.

  • Avoid using emotional pleas without substantiating with facts:

“Instead of relying solely on emotions, present concrete examples of your achievements, responsibilities, and the value you bring to the organization”.

  • Avoid pressuring for an immediate decision:

“Be open to a constructive dialogue and respect the decision-making process. Do not pressure or expect an immediate response during the meeting”.

  1. Avoid burning bridges or displaying a negative attitude:

“Regardless of the outcome, maintain professionalism and a positive attitude. Accept the decision gracefully and consider discussing future opportunities for growth and development”.

Suggested Upskilling

The experts also discussed areas to consider upskilling in to become more ‘valuable’ to employers,

In your experience, which skills are becoming more ‘valuable’ to employers?

Marla also recommends various areas to upskill in, to provide more leverage when asking for a pay rise. These include:

“Proficiency in digital tools, software, and platforms, as well as an understanding of emerging technologies, data analysis, and cybersecurity”.

“The ability to gather, analyse, and interpret data to drive informed decision-making and identify trends, patterns, and insights”.

“Employers value individuals who can think critically, evaluate complex situations, and propose effective solutions”.

“Being able to navigate change, handle ambiguity, and adapt to new circumstances is highly valued in today’s dynamic work environment”.

“The capacity to generate new ideas, think outside the box, and contribute to problem-solving and innovation within the organization”.

“Strong interpersonal skills, empathy, and the ability to work collaboratively with diverse teams and stakeholders”.

“Effective verbal and written communication skills, active listening, and the ability to work well in teams and across different departments or disciplines”.

“Demonstrating leadership qualities, including the ability to motivate and inspire others, manage projects, and make sound decisions”.

“The ability to work effectively in diverse and multicultural environments, understanding and respecting different perspectives and experiences”

“A commitment to continuous learning, self-improvement, and staying updated with industry trends and advancements”.

Rich added that that “understanding the markets/technologies of the business you work for (or the market you are targeting)” is key. As is “flexibility and adaptability, willingness to change and adopt new processes, and a positive can-do approach”.

Employment (Loyalty & Job Hopping) VS Self-Employment

As well as approach recommendations, the experts also shared their thoughts on the implications of staying at a company long-term versus moving jobs regularly, also comment on how going freelance or starting your own business can increase your income potential.

In your experience, what are the salary implications of staying at a company long-term versus moving jobs regularly?

In Marla’s opinion, “it depends on the person’s goals and desires for their career. From what I’ve seen over the years of coaching individuals, not everyone wants to stay at a company for salary. For example, many people stay at companies for benefits and the relationships they have built. Another example is the retirement plan. Another example can be flexibility such as the stay-at-home/remote economy we’re in right now. There is no one-size-fits-all answer for this question. However, the foundation is what does that person want for their career? What does their future self look like?”.

Rich added that “sometimes loyalty is not always rewarded with market level salary increases, so unfortunately there are times you have to consider moving jobs to increase your salary”.

Would you recommend going freelance or starting your own business specifically to increase your income potential?

In her own words, Marla is “a huge fan” of the gig economy… “If you have goals you want to accomplish and a skillset that can be used in multiple places, then why not? The question people have to ask themselves what this is going back to the Simon Sinek famous Ted talk of ‘why’? Again this goes back what are their goals? What do they want? What would be the reason to have a second job? What will the money be used for?”.

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*Insight shared in May 2023, and is subject to change

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