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Is now a good time to discuss a pay rise?

Is now a good time to discuss a pay rise?

Asking for a pay rise is always a tricky subject to approach with your line manager at the best of times. Doing it in the middle of a pandemic certainly requires more careful consideration.

We can all often feel as though we deserve a salary increase. After all, it’s one of the reasons we come to work – to be rewarded for the hard work that we put in. Although there are many other factors that motivate employees, financial reward is always high on the list.  

Even though we’d all love to receive a rise, no one has that right. All you can do is meet your objectives and surely the rest will look after itself? It’s not always quite as straightforward as that. This is especially so during a pandemic, when companies are struggling, people have been made redundant and morale is low.   

Adding value

Given these exceptional circumstances, you must think carefully before asking for a pay rise. However well you’ve done, the prudent path may well be to hold back and wait for things to get better. By doing this, you’ll not only be demonstrating your professionalism and loyalty, but when things improve, you’ll have a better chance of securing that rise. Plus, it’s a great time to be upskilling, so when the time comes, you’ll have even more bargaining power.  

A lot depends on your individual circumstances, your role, the sector and company you work for but of course you have every right to raise your salary in discussions with your manager. Even during a pandemic, what you bring to the table is quantifiable – that’s why you need to present a business case to show where you’ve added value, for example revenues or costs saved. Bring supporting documents such as past appraisals and feedback from colleagues and clients.

It’s all about timing. But you must do your research. Make sure you’re aware of your company’s financials and the trading environment. As we’ve mentioned, restructures and redundancies have sadly become all too common, so you need to tread carefully. Also be realistic and make sure that you know your market worth – there are sites that can help such as LinkedIn’s salary checker or speak to a recruitment consultant. This will help if you’re being underpaid.

Be respectful

As long as you approach it in the right way, your manager will be sympathetic to your request and will listen to you. You may have ticked every box, they agree to it in principle but still they’re not able to get approval from their boss. That’s something you have to accept but at least you’ll know where you stand. You might however be able to negotiate something else, for example budget for your personal development, extra paid holiday, a performance-based bonus or flexible work arrangements.

Take advantage of the situation by asking your manager what else you could do, for example, to get a promotion in the future or how you can get ahead in your career. Remember, pay rises and promotions aren’t the same thing. It’s important to learn from every interaction and seek ways to raise your own stock. Think about your perception, how your increase visibility or your influence (there’s a great book on getting ahead in your career by Joel Garfinkle).

Whatever the outcome, always behave with dignity and respect towards your manager and organisation, never lose your temper or show any resentment. Take it on the chin and hold your head high. Be sure to send an email by way of recapping, outline measurable KPIs and targets and arrange for a follow up meeting.

It will be harder to secure a rise during a pandemic but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask for one or that you won’t get it. Just make sure you’ve it though it through and you’re being realistic and honest with yourself. And if you feel that you’re not getting your market worth, you can always start to look for opportunities elsewhere – there are plenty of those out there!

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