Talk Money Week (November 8th – 12th) has a mission. A mission to increase people's sense of financial wellbeing by encouraging them to open up about their money worries.
With three quarters (77%) of employees saying that money worries impact them at work (Close Brothers, 2019), it is clear that there is a lot to be done to get the UK comfortable with their money.
Contributing to these worries is the fact that many people feel like they’re underpaid and, therefore, undervalued in their role, which can have a negative impact on productivity, employee engagement, job satisfaction and morale.
In fact, according to a recent poll of 1,005 British adults, the majority of people don't think they are paid what they are worth. The study found that less than half (41 per cent) of workers considered their salary to adequately reflect their job role and experience.
It was also discovered that those who have waited over a year for a salary increase are more likely to be dissatisfied with their earnings, while two fifths (43%) have not asked for a pay rise in over a year either.
So, why aren’t people asking for pay rises more regularly?
In our field, a big part of what we do is to manage the salary expectations of thousands of candidates each year and aim to deliver the packages which will benefit them most when moving into a new role.
This is why we decided to compile our top tips when it comes to the best approach to asking for a pay rise…
Build a case for your salary increase
You need to be able to explain precisely what your worth is in order to convince others that you deserve a pay rise. For example:
Flag any training and qualifications, such as those awarded by industry bodies or academic institutions.
If you’re the only one able to operate certain software, this will make you indispensable to your organisation.
Celebrate job milestones such as high sales figures or how you made valuable financial savings.
If you helped introduce new software, systems, frameworks or management structures, the company may be reliant on you to hold them together moving forward.
Don’t forget your soft skills either. A good manager or popular team member can make a department tick. If that’s you, make sure to give clear examples of your worth, such as:
Any conflicts you helped to settle
Taking a new colleague under your wing
If you’re always at your desk on time and manage your time well while you're there, it shows dedication and sets others a positive example
Willingness to travel
Availability and desire to work overtime where necessary
Ability to adapt to client demands
Demonstrate your market value
Research whether there are any specific areas in your industry or job that make you hard to replace. For example, some industries, including the Legal sector, are currently facing skills shortages, which means they'll be keen to hold on to you.
If there are lots of adverts for people like you, it could indicate that your role is hard to fill. Even if there aren’t many jobs quite like yours, your skills could prove to be invaluable in other roles.
According to the University of Law, 90% of UK job adverts want “good communication skills” and 83% call for “relationship building skills”, so think about how to demonstrate you've got these.
Timing is key
Getting your timing right is important when requesting a pay rise and it’s preferable not to ask more than once a year, which makes it all the more vital to carefully pick your moment.
Prepare by making sure that you’re ready for negotiations well in advance. Be proactive and tie up any loose ends like unfinished projects and tasks you’ve put on hold, delayed or procrastinated over.
Think about your role and devise an outline of what your future trajectory within the company looks like. If you're on good terms with other senior staff, ask them to provide a brief testimonial containing positive feedback about your work.
In terms of key opportunities, your performance review presents a good time to bring up the matter of a pay rise, especially if you've pulled off any impressive accomplishments since your last appraisal.
The end of the financial or calendar year is another good time to talk about pay, as this is most likely when the business is in the process of assessing results and making forecasts.
And if the right moment fails to present itself…
Sometimes there simply isn’t a suitable moment to request a pay rise. If you have to schedule a meeting yourself, aim to book at least half an hour with your employer for a proper discussion and avoid meeting close to a project deadline or other stressful date.
Don’t mention pay when you book the meeting, instead politely and eloquently introduce the matter face-to-face, which shows that you’re being mature and reasonable.
Prepare what you’ll say
Open the meeting by talking about the skills and successes you’ve documented, then ask for more than you expect, but don’t be unreasonable. You don’t want them to agree immediately and be left wondering if you have undersold yourself, nor do you want to seem greedy.
Don’t threaten to quit unless pay really is a deal breaker for you. Instead, be ready to listen and compromise as there might be good reasons as to why they can’t agree to your requests in that moment.
At all times, be professional
Body language speaks volumes, so mimicking posture and gestures subconsciously engages a person and gets them on side. Sitting up straight, making eye contact and speaking slowly and deliberately are all signs of confidence.
Avoid fidgeting, crossing your arms, letting your gaze wander or covering your mouth while speaking as they can make you look as if you’re lying or are unsure about what you’re saying.
Be amenable to other options
If your boss can’t offer more money, they may be able to improve your working life in other ways, so be open to discussions relating to workplace development and training, flexible hours, the option to work from home or increased annual leave.
Realise the worth of other benefits
These are non-cash forms of remuneration that can sometimes work out even better than a salary increase, depending on your situation. They might include performance-related bonuses, delivered when you hit certain targets, pension contributions, a company car, travel allowances, healthcare cover, life insurance or paid gym memberships.
If you don’t get a rise, have a plan to ensure you do next time
If your request is refused, it’s not necessarily the end of the world. There are still pathways to greater recognition and reward, whether you’re looking for more money or considering how to get a promotion.
Professional study is a great way to improve your employability and earning power. Try asking your boss if they’re willing to invest in your development instead. If they are, your career path could open up once more.
If you would like to know more about market salary rates in your industry, get in touch with the experts at MERJE.
We also offer additional services, such as market insights and salary surveys, which you can read more about here.