On the Job

5 tips for asking for a pay raise

There are many reports that say compensation isn’t a primary motivator but that doesn’t mean people don’t want to feel like they are being paid fairly for their work. Pay is important.

Pay is also an emotional issue.

So, when it comes to having conversations with the company about pay increases, it’s a good idea to keep emotions out of the conversation.

Rosemary Lavoie, vice president of global compensation at Unum, encourages employees to be candid while at the same time focusing the conversation on skills.

“At Unum, we encourage employees to have candid and transparent conversations with their manager regarding their compensation, the range for their job level, where they are paid on the range etc.” Lavoie added that Unum educates employees on the key elements in compensation:

  • Last time the employee received a raise;
  • Compensation in relationship to others (both internally and externally);
  • Incentives they have been awarded;
  • Leadership contributions including the employee’s role in elevating the results of the entire team; and
  • Inroads an employee is making to enhance their skills both from a depth and breadth perspective.

5 Things to Consider When Asking for a Raise

There are many factors that go into making pay decisions. Lavoie reminds us that managers have been tasked with using salary funds wisely by “determining a priority order in how to make salary investments. So, it’s important when requesting a pay increase to understand all the elements of pay (i.e. base salary, annual incentives, and recognition) along with how these pieces work together. Here are five things to consider before asking for a pay increase:

  1. Do your homework. It could be helpful to understand what similar positions are being paid in the marketplace. Sites like Salary.com and Glassdoor.com can provide aggregate data. Remember to compare job responsibilities and not just job titles.
  2. Evaluate your own performance. As tempting as it may be to bring up the performance or pay of other employees, this conversation needs to stay focused on your pay and performance. Take a moment to evaluate your current performance: Would you say that your performance is above standard? Have you taken on any additional assignments?
  3. Examine the company. One of the factors that goes into a pay conversation is the organization’s ability to pay. Often, you don’t need to see the profit and loss statement to assess how the company is doing. Just look around: Are they in a cost cutting mode or adding a lot of new clients?
  4. Decide what’s important to you. There’s more to compensation than the amount of money in your paycheck. Yes, pay is very important, but think about alternatives: Are there things you would accept in lieu of pay? Common alternatives are extra vacation time or a flexible work schedule.
  5. Prepare for the worst. It might sound counterintuitive to plan a conversation with the worst in mind, but in this case, it’s important to think about what will happen if the answer is “no”. Maybe nothing will change. But it’s also possible that this might prompt some soul-searching about your future with the company. It could be valuable to think about that before having a conversation with your manager.

Prepare for the Conversation with Your Manager

The best thing that anyone can do when asking for a pay increase is come prepared with information. Lavoie stresses the value of being succinct. “Explain the value you bring to the team and how you are growing and developing. Make sure your manager knows how the team’s results are better because of your contributions.”

During the meeting, be prepared to listen as well. Managers are going to ask questions and probably not give an immediate answer. They might need time to think about it or seek approval from someone else in the organization.

Asking for a pay increase is always an awkward situation, but you can reduce the challenge by spending time putting a case together and giving the company time to consider the request.

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