I’ve employed hundreds of people and have seen many great and many awful pitches for a pay rise.
But there are only two ways, or at least two good ways, to approach asking for a pay rise in the private sector, and one in the public sector – which I outline below.
How NOT to ask for a pay rise
Money is always on the table for great talent, but first, some sure ways not to ask for a pay rise, are:
1. Tell your employer that you can’t cover your bills and you don’t have enough to live on, or to pay off your house and car. Employers don’t care about that and will only see that you can’t manage your money. They can also feel emotionally blackmailed, which has a high chance of backfiring on you.
2. Tell them you have another job, or are thinking of leaving, and using this as leverage. This is advised by some ‘consultants’, but I’ve never felt good about this, even though sometimes I may have fought to keep an employee doing this.
It goes very bad very quickly if a staff member plays off the new employer versus the existing one. As soon as I am used as a pawn to get a pay rise because the new employer is offering more, I’m out.
3. Ask for a pay rise because you heard that a colleague got a pay rise. This never works, at least not for me. It’s none of anyone else’s business what others are paid. Why would anyone increase someone’s salary just because they increased their colleagues’ salary? That’s not sound logic or financially smart.
This also erodes the trust of discretion. An employer’s big fear is that when one person asks for a raise, everyone does. It can stop it from raising salaries of people who deserve it. So always be discreet and never use this as leverage to get a raise.
How to ask for a pay rise in the private sector
Here are the two ways I believe you are most likely to get a raise and maintain and build goodwill with your employer, if you are in the private sector:
1. Book a meeting (monthly review, salary review, one to one) and show grace, gratitude and calm emotions to your employer. Big up the company and your relationship with it, then point out in clear, specific detail, what extra revenue, cost savings, systems and time savings you have brought to the company.
Measure it against what it would have been without your role or input. Have it printed out/evidenced. Show the gross and the net. Then politely request your raise. Request it as 10% or less of additional profit you have brought to the company.
2. Book a meeting (monthly review, salary review, one to one) and propose some actions you will head up or undertake that will increase future turnover and net profit, and then request up to 10% of the net profit as a bonus or salary raise. “If I could bring in £20,000 net profit in the next six months, would you pay me just a £2,000 bonus?”
If you are in a role that doesn’t appear to be revenue generating, such as admin, consider the following:
- Where have you saved money that you can measure?
- Where have you saved time, in hours, that can be measured, and then put an hourly monetary value on it.
- What systems and processes can you/have you set up that save time and money?
You could talk about both points 1. and 2. in the meeting, or 1. in one meeting, and 2. in a meeting in two to three months’ time.
How to ask for a pay rise in the public sector
If you are in the public sector, your boss or employer may not have the autonomy to make instant decisions. This may be harder. My experience is not in the public sector, but motivational speaker, Brian Tracy, told me this in 2007 and I think it is your best chance of getting a significant pay rise in the public sector:
“Seek out the job or role that pays the salary you desire, then learn everything about that role and offer the value to the company. Do the job that pays the salary you want.”
This can take time, but remember that you chose to be in the job you are in. If you feel like you will get nowhere, consider moving into the private sector.
You only ever get a raise when you show one thing: value. You must show value first. Most employees want payment first, then they might offer the value. The world doesn’t not work this way.
Your employer wants and needs to make profit. Your employer wants happy clients, referrals, productive and loyal staff. Show these, give value first, and you will get your raise.
If you do all this and don’t get your raise, another employer will snap you up, and you know you are working for the wrong company.
That is on you to decide, but also ensure you have given your existing employer enough chances to help you develop, because a change could be as bad as it could good.
Rob Moore – the so-called ‘Disruptive Entrepreneur’ podcaster is co-founder of Progressive Property, a property investment training company, business of the year winner 2016, and 8x best-selling author of books including 'Life Leverage' and ‘Money: Know more, make more, give more’.
I literally had the same thought
The nerve to imply employees shouldn't discuss salaries with each other in an article written to encourage people to ask for a pay rise. The author is confused he either want to help or not. Discussing my salary with my coworkers ensured noone of us is underpaid , and helps us prep for our annual reviews. We don't all earn the same but at least no one is underpaid.