Negotiating a pay rise

It's never easy walking the fine line between being paid what you're worth and feeling like you're being taken advantage of

It can be disheartening when someone discovers their workmates just got a bigger pay rise than they did.

But rather than grumble to themselves, and become resentful, people in this situation should do something about it, says Matt Villano, writing in the New York Times.

Villano quotes one expert as suggesting that people research average salaries for their position, so they can not only put their raise into perspective but have some back-up when asking for more money. People should also be ready to bring up previous performance reviews and show quantifiable evidence of their worth.

Employees should ask to meet with their boss — and be prepared to wait if he or she can’t see them straight away.

“You want to avoid having an ad hoc discussion in the hallway.”

Another expert Villano interviewed says that in the meeting it’s always better to ask and listen than complain and tell.

“Ask whether your raise was in line with what others got, and confirm that the boss feels you’re doing a good job.”

Villano advises people not to let on that they know what their workmates received as it could alienate the boss. Another person he quotes says that his response to such a tactic is: “What someone else at this company earns is none of your business.” He says it’s a “terrible” negotiating strategy that won’t get anyone anywhere.

Sometimes a boss may not be able to part with cash, in which case Villano says it makes sense to ask for other benefits, such as extra time off.

If the boss won’t agree to that, then a least the employee has had the conversation and knows where he or she stands.

“If you’re still smarting after the meeting, you always can make your case to someone else — through your employer’s formal grievance process or to the HR department.”

A BBC article says there are legitimate forms of wage discrimination, such as performance, experience and ability.

“While this can help boost productivity and staff morale, awarding pay increases based on such factors is no breeze for managers.”

The article says that it is hard to assess employee attributes and “the process can be prone to subjectivity”.

The article quotes one person as saying people should be asking if they enjoy their jobs, if they have autonomy, or if they feel fairly rewarded, but instead we’re only human and tend to ask “What’s Fred earning?”

The article advises people to start as they mean to go on.

“Don’t be scared to confront the wages issue at the interview and go prepared with the pay scales of rival firms.”

Secondly, it advises working the system, using appraisals to put a case forward.

People should make an effort to find out what other employers would be willing to pay them and use this information sensitively. Alternatively, they can threaten their boss with any other job offer they receive — but they should only do so if they are confident and certain that they are indispensable to their employer.

Another point to keep in mind is that even if someone does get a small pay rise, it may have as much to do with how well their company is doing as anything else, says an article on If that’s the case, once again people should think outside the square.

“Perhaps your boss would pay for you to get a professional qualification? That would benefit the company itself, and also be a shrewd career move for you,” the article says.

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