How to ask for a pay rise

Claire’s* guide to asking for a pay rise

Achieving a pay rise may benefit your savings and help you into a better retirement. It’s important to remember that your employer’s super guarantee payments are tied to your current salary or wage. So, when you achieve a pay rise you will also gain an increase into the amount your employer pays regularly into your super account.

Asking for a pay rise is never easy, no matter how much you earn. Asking for a pay rise can be nerve racking. Many people avoid it altogether because they find it too difficult to broach this topic, while others prepare incorrectly and so fail to maximise their worth.

The problem, of course, is that the economic fallout of COVID-19 is forcing many businesses to scale back on raises, promotions, and hiring. There could be additional barriers as well, such as policies that limit raises to once a year, or managers who don’t fully understand what you do or who lack the political capital to fight for a raise during these challenging times.

Still, if you want to pursue a raise right now, it’s essential to strengthen your position before, during, and after the ask. Here’s how.

Get ready - gather your supporting evidence

Firstly, for your request to be successful, you need to show your boss why you deserve a raise. It’s not enough to say the cost of living is increasing or that you’re generally doing a good job. You must have specific and quantifiable evidence to present.

Claire suggests you ask yourself, “What have I achieved since the last time my pay was increased that warrants a raise today?” To answer this question, prepare a list of your recent achievements that exceed your objectives. It may help to look back at your last review or your original job description. Then list any changed or rising work volumes or duties you’re now undertaking and consider projects or improvements you’ve been involved in.

For each accomplishment, list the resulting benefit to the organisation. The aim here is to provide strong evidence to justify a pay rise, so focus on outcomes.

“Whatever evidence you gather, the key point to remember is that it needs to demonstrate the greater value you now bring to your employer,” advises Claire.

Set the meeting time and remain professional throughout

You are now ready to ask your manager for a meeting. Don’t spring this conversation on your manager though, warns Claire. “She or he could be in the middle of an urgent task or their attention could be required elsewhere. Instead, book a time with your manager and clearly state that the objective of your meeting request is to present your case for a salary/wage review.”

When it comes time for this meeting, Claire suggests you keep it professional. “Take control, but stay calm and focused,”. “Do not become emotional and do not talk of how much money you need, such as rising bills or the cost of living. Instead, clearly present the evidence you’ve gathered to support your pay rise request.”

“If you’ve gathered appropriate evidence, you’ll have strong grounds for an increase that is hard to ignore. Evidence of positive customer feedback, increased sales, or noticeable improvements that you were responsible for - may be helpful.”

Claire also suggests that preparing a sheet of paper on which you document your evidence will help keep your boss from altering the trajectory of the meeting. “If you are feeling nervous, it will also provide you with notes to refer to so you don’t forget to present all your proof.”

Don’t expect an answer straight away though. “In all likelihood your manager will need to review their budget, talk to others and draft documentation before your pay rise becomes official,” says Claire.

“At the conclusion of the meeting, let your boss know that you’ll follow up with an email summing up your request. Your email should be a clear, concise and accurate summation of the main points you presented and discussed. This provides you with a written record of your conversation and ensures there’s no room for confusion or misunderstanding.”

Be prepared to negotiate

Your manager may want to negotiate the value of your salary increase. According to Claire, you need to be prepared to discuss, at length if necessary, the salary you feel your results are worth. “Throughout this discussion, keep in mind your justifications for asking for a pay rise in the first place. Also consider how much you are willing to compromise – it can help to have an ideal increase figure in mind as well as the minimum increase you feel your results are worth.”

Have a fall-back position

“You should also have a contingency plan in case your employer comes back to you with the news that she or he cannot afford to increase your salary at this point in time,” suggests Claire. “For example, can you agree a date for another pay review in three or six months? Or could your manager instead offer additional benefits, such as working from home or an alternative location one or two days a week, paying for additional study or membership of a professional body, or providing you with extra annual leave?”

Know that "no" doesn't mean "never"

Despite the potential hurdles, businesses are always well-served to recognise employees with needed skills and compensate them accordingly – especially since many of these employees are likely to move on if they don’t feel valued.

Asking for a raise is an important part of your development process, but timing is critical. If your request is declined, it’s not the end of the line. Continue excelling at your job, assessing your motivation and goals, and reviewing the reasons you deserve an increase, and revisit the conversation in a few months.

Claire’s tip post successful pay rise

Claire: Usually when you get a pay rise the first thought many people have is more money to pay down the mortgage, more money for the next holiday or other purchases/spending that has been put off. But you may like to think about using the extra amount (or some of it) to contribute to your super. Remember the magic of compound interest!

Get advice: GuildSuper members have access to over-the phone advice about super, including advice on making extra contributions to your super, at no extra cost.

If you would like help making extra contributions to your super, you can arrange an appointment by calling 1300 361 477.

*GuildSuper’s Financial Best Friend - FBF