It can often feel like one of the most awkward conversations an employee can have with their manager, but as the saying goes “if you don’t ask, you don’t get”. So if you feel you’re worth more for the work you do, then make 2014 the year you change bashfulness into boldness and make your case for a pay rise.
Although it may be a subject we’re all unwilling to broach, there is no doubt that pay is one of the key motivators at work. Even if you don’t consider yourself to be motivated by money, feeling as though you’re not being paid enough for the job you’re doing can be a major factor in how satisfied you feel at work.
Are negotiations even possible?
Retailers, especially large, multi-site companies, tend to determine pay grades on a company-wide scale. As a result there is less room to negotiate salary on an individual basis. However, the more specialist the job you do and/or the fewer people there are who do a similar job, the greater the chances are that you can negotiate.
Have you earned it?
There are a couple of other points to bear in mind before going any further. Firstly, if you have only been with an employer for a short time and have not had a major increase in responsibilities, a salary bump is unlikely. Secondly, if you have a record of poor timekeeping, attendance or discipline, you’ll need to address these issues before even bringing up a wage increase.
Don't make it personal
Even the most sympathetic manager cannot give you a pay rise on the basis that your circumstances have changed, that you are looking to buy a house or a car or if your partner has been made redundant. Remember they have bosses to whom their actions must be justified. To make any headway, you've got to provide them with solid facts about your contribution at work.
Approach with caution
When asking to set up a meeting about your pay, try not to be confrontational or emotional. Usually the safest and most logical way to approach this is to bring it up in tandem with your next performance review.
What is your job description?
Think hard about how your role may have evolved from when you first started with the company; one of the best cases for a pay rise is if you are now doing far more than was in your original remit.
Additionally, think about all of the important tasks you carry out, responsibilities you bear and benefits you bring to the company. Think about any initiatives you have undertaken that might have saved the company money, new policies you helped implement or new staff with whose training you have become involved.
If all else fails, ask!
If you are struggling to make a case but are still determined to secure a better paycheque, you need to change your tack. Rather than pointing to examples of why you might deserve a rise, you'll need to ask "what can I do to earn more money?" At least this way you are acknowledging to your boss that you're not expecting more cash for no extra input on your part and you can put into place an on-going pathway to an eventual pay increase.
Keep it professional
If you have an issue that won't wait, do your boss and yourself a favour; don't skulk about feeling resentful, talk to them in a positive, professional and non-confrontational manner. Sometimes talking about (let alone asking for) a pay rise feels incredibly awkward, but hard as it may be, you have to either get over your reluctance or stop moaning about money.
Present your case
In the meeting, talk through your business case, emphasising where there have been notable achievements or changes in responsibility. Indicate your desire to make a greater contribution as you continue to develop in the future. Once you're done, demonstrate your empathy by acknowledging they'll need some time to think things over then thank them for their time. It might also be a good idea to reaffirm your commitment to the company, to talk in positive terms about your intended future with them.
With any luck your reasoned, positive arguments will sway your employer and the pay rise/promotion will be forthcoming. In that case, good for you. Just don't rub it in other people's faces. By all means allow yourself a private 'high five' but don't overdo the public celebrations - it is bound to put some noses out of joint, some of which could be attached to employees you will be managing!
You should be prepared for the possibility that, particularly under current economic conditions, no pay raise will be forthcoming. If this should occur it is perfectly OK to find out what the deciding factors against you were - no money in the budget, precedent setting, etc. Be friendly. Ask if there's anything you might do to make a similar salary discussion more successful next time. It might also be worth asking about a timeframe after which your employer would be willing to discuss the subject again.
They'll be watching you
The period following an unsuccessful salary negotiation is key; your performance in the workplace will inevitably receive greater scrutiny so don't let it deteriorate. Sulking and slacking off isn't the way to accelerate further wage talks. Maintaining your effort and professionalism will speak volumes to your manager both now and in the future.