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IS IT TIME TO ASK FOR A RAISE?
When’s the last time you asked for or got a raise? If it’s been more than a year and you think you’re no longer adequately compensated for your efforts, you ought to think seriously about asking for more money.
With inflation at its highest rate in years, a salary that was fine a couple of years ago may no longer cover your needs. Statistics Canada reports that Canadian inflation surpassed 5% in January for the first time since September 1991. This mean that it will take a larger percentage of your paycheck to purchase goods or service.
Of course, asking for a raise is uncomfortable. No matter how good a job you think you’re doing, deciding to ask for a raise might trigger uncertainties – uncertainties about your current job situation, about your performance and value to your company, and even about personal insecurities unrelated to your job performance. A 2019 UK survey of 3,000 employees found that more than half were hesitant to ask for raises. Twelve percent were simply too scared to ask. Others hesitated because they weren’t sure how to approach the subject (16 percent), didn’t want to appear greedy (15 percent), or were worried about being turned down (12 percent).
The timing is right
Right now might be the best opportunity you’ll have in years to request a salary increase. Nela Richardson, the chief economist at payroll processor ADP, says there’s a lot of churn in the job market, as more people than ever are leaving their present positions for better ones. There’s also an uptick in Baby-Boomer retirements, pushing corporations to focus on retaining experienced staffers. A Robert Half survey found that most companies plan to give raises in the first half of 2022 to help staunch the outflow of valuable employees.
All this means you may be in a good position to ask for a raise. But how to go about it?
Do your research
It’s important to approach the request in a business-like frame of mind. As one writer puts it, a raise isn’t a favor or gift: It’s a way for your employer to pay you fair market value for your work and retain your talents.
Your request should be based on real-world analytics. Research the typical wages among similar companies in your industry and geographic area. The Robert Half human resources consulting firm offers salary guides, and the Indeed job-search site provides sample salary ranges based on location, industry, and experience.
Talk to people in your field about salary ranges for the kind of work you do. Salary ranges within a company are often hard to determine, so it’s useful to go outside the company and consult others in your industry. Here’s where your past professional networking activities can pay off.
Investigate company practices that would affect when you are more likely to get a raise. For example, are your company’s budget cycles quarterly or do they occur at the end of the fiscal year? Is it best you time your request to these budget cycles? Or is the anniversary of your hiring an appropriate time to approach the topic?
If possible, try to find out the company’s salary structure and how large a pay increase is considered standard. Indeed.com says that 3% is generally considered typical and in some cases generous.
What’s the state of the company and the industry? Your chances of getting a raise will be better if the company is doing well. If it’s in a down cycle and layoffs are imminent, your request for a raise might be seem disconnected to reality.
Think also about your manager’s priorities and the company’s goals. How are you contributing to these goals and success measures? Keep in mind that your manager may have to campaign for your raise further up the chain of command. If you can articulate your value to your manager and the company, it helps this campaign.
Develop a strategy
“No surprises” is a longstanding business credo. Unless it’s an emergency, you never want to spring anything important on a your manager without first giving them a hint of what’s to come.
So, you’ll want to briefly introduce the topic and request a meeting. For example, if you’re meeting with your manager on a different topic, you may wish to bring up the raise toward the end of your meeting and ask to schedule a separate meeting to discuss your request.
You could also initiate the discussion in an email, asking for a meeting. This can be followed-up with a more detailed email message closer to the meeting date, using the points below as a guide:
- The message should focus on your performance – not on what your peers are earning or your personal needs. Remember that in considering compensation, your manager is thinking about what serves their own needs and those of the company. Use bullet points to list your recent specific accomplishments and how they contributed to the company’s overall success.
- Ask for an amount slightly higher than what you expect to end up with. Whatever you request, it is likely that the company will counter with a lower number. Explain how you arrived at your figure based on the above-described accomplishments and your research.
- Finally, ask to schedule a meeting. An in-person meeting is preferable, but if not practical, a Zoom or phone call will suffice.
Don’t fear hearing “No”
You might be told that this isn’t the right time for a raise. Or your manager might be on board with giving you a raise but can’t get sign-off from those higher up.
Remember that ‘no’ can also mean ‘not now.’ Ask when a better time would be to receive a raise or what you need to do/demonstrate so a ‘yes’ is more likely in future.
If your manager responds negatively, use it as an opportunity to ask for feedback about your performance. Listen carefully to what’s said. Be appreciative of any constructive feedback and ask if you can connect in a few weeks or months to find out whether you’ve made progress.
If your manager speaks discouragingly, in a way that makes you feel there’s no path to a raise, that is equally useful. It might signal that you’ve hit a ceiling and it’s time to start looking for another opportunity.
Consult a Professional
Advocation is an employment law firm that understands Ontario employment laws and can advise you of your rights. If you or someone you know in the Greater Toronto area needs legal advice about an employment matter, contact us today to schedule a consultation.