Getting A Pay Rise: Advice From The Boss

Learn from the person in charge of the purse strings

According to pay data from Korn Ferry Hay Group, UK employees, on average, are predicted to receive a 2.3% increase in their real income this year. But are you likely to be one of them? If your boss has gone strangely quiet about pay rises, perhaps now is the time to broach the subject.

We asked Sally Percy, business author and managing director of financial content agency Love Letters Publishing to share her tips on getting a pay rise, from the boss’s perspectives. “You may feel intimidated about the prospect of approaching your boss about a pay rise, but remember that it’s part of their job to consider your request fairly. But as any boss will tell you, there are some key things you can do to boost your chances of getting a raise,” she reveals.

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Get your timing right

Sally believes this is the most important consideration when asking for a pay rise. “Businesses, particularly smaller ones, tend to be cautious about increasing their costs in uncertain economic times. So you have to weigh up if this a good time to ask or not,” she advises. Avoid the morning after a stock market crash, perhaps. You could offer your firm stability by saying you’ll stay, take on more responsibility and help the business to succeed – with a salary rise, of course.

You also need to get the actual time you ask right. Five o’clock on a Friday when the boss is about to go on holiday probably won’t get a positive response. Aim for a private, scheduled, relaxed midweek meeting, ideally at the end of a successful project in which you played a demonstrably pivotal role.

Do your research

We’d all love £100k a year, but what is the market rate for your job? Check this before you can claim to be undervalued - you might find you’re not. If possible, discover if you are earning around the same as colleagues who do the same job. You could chat to HR to see how pay rises are calculated. If you’re asking for a rise above market rate, demonstrate the extra value you bring to the party.

Are you always positive?

Bosses like cheerful, can-do employees who don’t mind getting their hands dirty. Progressive companies tend to hire people with good attitudes and who fit with company ethos rather than solely skills - you can train people to do most tasks as long as they have the right approach. Sally says: “It’s important to have a positive attitude so your boss feels they really want to keep you. You’re more likely to get a pay rise as a result.”

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Justify a pay rise

A pay rise meeting is essentially a sales pitch of what you can offer with the goal of convincing your boss you’re worth a higher salary. Highlight instances when you’ve taken the initiative, brought in more business, gone the extra mile to support the team or went beyond your basic job description - you could even bring some positive client testimonials. Sally says: “In a period of change, demonstrate you’re willing to stick around and embrace new challenges, rather than add to the uncertainty.”

Keep it professional

You might be struggling to pay a huge overdraft, but don’t bring this up in the meeting. Your boss may be grumpy and uncooperative, but don’t threaten to resign if you don’t get what you want. Sally points out: “It’s a risky strategy to get another job lined up and then try to blackmail your employer. You’re not leaving for the right reasons and it could backfire.” Just let your achievements and personality speak for themselves.

Can you handle the answer?

If it’s ‘no’, accept it gracefully, but ask for feedback. How could you improve? What other responsibilities can you take on to become pay-rise worthy? This shows resilience and may pay off with future rises. If you’re promised a pay rise in a few months’ time, confirm it in writing, save the email trail and remind your boss when the time comes. If the answer is ‘yes’, get the details in writing, pronto – you’ve done it!

Consider a DIY pay rise

If you can’t get a pay rise from your firm, could you do it yourself? Think about going part time and picking up some better-paid freelance or consultancy work on the other days. You may find it suits you better and helps build up a business of your own. Would it be possible to work from home a few days a month and save yourself some time and travel expenditure? It’s always worth asking.