How to negotiate a pay rise

How to negotiate a pay rise
How to negotiate a pay rise

posted 16 Nov 22

Negotiating a pay rise can be a very daunting thing to do. You might feel like you’re being a bit cheeky or doing something wrong by asking for more money. You’re absolutely not. It’s important that not only are you being paid fairly for the work you’re doing, but also that you’re being paid what you’re worth.

When approaching the idea of asking for a pay rise, it’s vital to work out the right approach to take with your employer. It’s also important to equip yourself with the relevant information to present, in order to back up your request. Not only can this help to navigate the conversation, but it also enables you to step into the conversation feeling confident and prepared.

If you don’t ask, you don’t get

There’s been a lot of talking recently about pay. The Great Resignation isn’t just limited to America; according to HR News, 85% of senior decision makers in UK businesses said it’s affected their business. And whilst so-called ‘job hopping’ is seen by many as the best way to get a pay rise, it isn’t always the case.

This might be because lots of people don’t even try. According to a YouGov survey, more than half of responders (53%) have never asked for a pay rise. And as everyone knows, if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

In many ways we’re in a candidate-driven market, which means that there might not be a better time to ask for a pay rise than now. A lot of employers are having trouble finding new staff, and so are more and more looking internally at their existing teams.

There's a gender discrepancy when it comes to negotiating a pay rise. 64% of men feel comfortable asking, whereas only 43% of women do (People Management, 1 in 10 workers too scared). All of these factors add up to one thing: the best way to increase your salary is to ask for more.

Preparing to negotiate a pay rise

Before beginning the conversation, it’s important to make sure you’re fully prepared. There are several things you’ll need to have in order to have the best chances of succeeding in your negotiation.

1. Evidence of your excellence

Asking for a pay rise isn’t the end of the conversation, but only the beginning. The first thing your manager will say to you will most likely be some form of the question ‘why’, as in: why do you deserve a pay rise?

If you can’t answer this question, then you’ll fall at the first hurdle. Be prepared to not only talk through your work and the high standards of it, but to have proof. Bring examples of work you’ve done, work that’s achieved your targets or even surpassed them. Bring examples of when you’ve gone over and above. For everything you say, have something in your arsenal to back it up.

2. Market conditions

Before sitting down with your manager, it’s good to have a number in mind that you’re aiming for. This may be based on a percentage increase on what you’re currently making. It may be based on the salary of someone you know doing a similar job. It may be an arbitrary figure you’d like to reach.

The best thing you can do here is research the market. Look at open roles and see what salaries they’re advertising. Look at lots of different markets and sectors, getting as much information as you can. There’s a good chance that you know other people who work in similar roles, that you encounter as part of your role. Ask them.

3. What others in the company make

You might be the only person in your company who does your role, in which case this will be a bit more difficult. But if you have fellows/contemporaries working alongside you, ask them what their salaries are.

This may prove difficult, as there’s still a large amount of taboo around discussing salaries. In fact, only 1/3 of people feel comfortable discussing their salary at work (HR News, Most Brits prefer not to talk about their wages). However, those that are happy talking about can make all the difference.

It’s one thing telling your manager that people at company X are being paid differently to you. However, if you can let your boss know (if they don’t already) that people within the same company are being paid differently, then you have more chance of your pay falling in line with theirs.

How to actually ask for more money

Once you’ve completed your preparation work, it’s time to sit down with your boss and argue your case. Every person’s conversation with their manager will be different, but there are some general rules that are worth considering when approaching the negotiation.

  • Be respectful

You’re only human, and the preparation may have upset you, for example if you find out you’re being vastly underpaid compared to your colleagues. Whilst these feelings are only natural, they won’t help your negotiation.

  • Be professional

The workplace is moving away from the dictatorial “manager ordering workers” model it used to follow. More and more people are friends with their manager, and whilst this can be a good thing in many ways, it’s important to remember at the end of the day that your relationship is still employer and employee. Make sure the conversation takes place in the office, during work hours, in a properly organised manner.

  • Be human

Ultimately, even though it’s a conversation between employer and employee about money, perhaps the most sensitive of subjects, it’s key to remember that you’re two people who work together.

Every relationship between manager and staff is subjective. Only you will really know the best way to approach the conversation.  Remember that your manager, whilst being your employer, is still a person. Use your existing relationship to maximise your chances of success.

What if there’s no money?

Sometimes, no matter how much evidence there is of your hard work, a company simply may not be in a position to grant a pay rise at the present time. It’s important to plan ahead for this outcome, in order to create a back-up strategy that can still prove beneficial to you.

If you find yourself in this situation, you should accept their rejection of your request graciously, before proceeding with your counter-offer. Instead of a pay rise at this time, you could ask for fixed targets to be set before revisiting this conversation over an agreed timeframe, when your salary increase can be considered again. This means that when that time comes, you can once again present the evidence of meeting set goals to use as leverage to your pay rise at this time.

You could also ask for something else, such as extra holiday days, or the ability to work flexibly, or even remotely. Whilst money is the number one incentive in any job, it isn’t everything. Where money isn’t available, there may be alternatives that are almost as good.

If there genuinely isn’t any cash, consider if there are any perks you want, which may not be difficult for your boss to grant. For example, working from home two days a week, extra holiday allowance, a bigger office, time out of work to attend networking events.

Total Jobs, How to ask for a pay rise

After the negotiation

Whether you’ve been successful and your pay has gone up, or you haven’t been able to get more money but have gained more perks, unless something terrible has happened, you and your manager will continue to work together.

Whatever the outcome, at the very least you know how to approach a pay rise negotiation in the future. It will most likely never be a fun conversation, but knowing how to approach it, particularly having done so previously, puts you in the best possible position for future negotiations.

If you’re unhappy with your current circumstances at work, and could be open to new opportunities, speak to one of our dedicated consultants today.