Few people turn up to work not expecting to get paid. We exchange our valuable life minutes with our bosses and managers in order to get our hands on cold, hard dosh at the end of the month. Asking for a pay rise is never easy but here are some top tips on negotiating a pay rise.
Yet, as Gillian Ku, Associate Professor of Organisational Behaviour at London Business School wrote in The Financial Times, most of us feel uncomfortable asking for more money – even when we think we’re worth it.
Ku wrote: “There are many reasons for this but perhaps the most important one is that employees often lack information: we do not know how much we are worth, how much others are paid, how much employers are willing to pay us.”
In the UK, this lack of information could be, in part at least, due to conversations about pay being uncomfortable.
A recent Neyber study found that most people would rather talk about the partisan subject of politics, or even sex, than reveal their financial situation. In a Guardian feature piece on the subject, one worker defended this practise:
“It’s a British thing which I am proud of – it seems crassly materialistic to discuss money in detail with acquaintances, or even friends.”
Yet, there are undeniable movements to make discussions of pay more transparent. Earlier this year, certain firms had to publish data on gender pay gaps and, anecdotally at least, there seems to be a tad less reticence on the subject.
Consider the vogueish slew of ‘revelationary’ articles on certain individuals take-home pay. The Guardian, Refinery29 and occasionally Metro online do types of these article – but it’s not widespread, and their reasoning is questionable.
In Sweden, Norway and Finland you can look up anyone’s salary online – which gives employee’s ammunition when negotiating a pay rise.
Yet, information and transparency aren’t the only weapons to put in your arsenal when asking for better pay.
1. Get as much information as you can
Information is definitely going to be central when asking for better remuneration. Think about what you are worth – both externally and internally.
Websites like Glassdoor reveal information about industry norms across the country.
Speaking to FT, Ku explains: “You also need information about your employer — have others tried to negotiate better salaries and what has the reaction been? Is the company (or unit or team) experiencing growth or decline that could affect its ability to give you what you want? What is company policy on pay? You may never have perfect information. But the more you can get, the clearer, stronger and more rational your arguments will be, allowing you to present your case with confidence.
2. Leverage your employer when you plan to shake them down
One of the best ways to negotiate for better pay is to consider getting another offer. Not only does it give you more information about the strength of the market, if you were to consider moving, but also about what industry norms are.
Ku adds: “An outside offer provides a very concrete and undeniable benchmark of your worth.”
3. Is money actually that important?
Of course, money is important – it’s what helps us pay bills, go on holiday and get food in the belly. However, happiness is never solely defined by money. You might want to think about how much satisfaction that the job gives you – a lens through which to look at work that many sage people would advise you do.
Guardian journalist Richard Godwin wrote that “the people who were good at getting raises were almost never the people who were good at their jobs.” If you’re engaged in your work, have opportunities to progress and are learning lots – this might be more than enough reason to stay.
Furthermore, there might be other non-monetary ways to be remunerated. Perks, benefits and the like. Consider asking for these if you don’t already have them.
4. Warm them up
Don’t just ask for an offer straight up. In life, the things that are most likely to work require a carefully thought out strategy. Prepare, prepare, prepare. Show your worth – take on projects that require hard work and consideration.
Ku advises: “ Be confident in your preparation and ask for what you want. Although there is often debate about who should make the first offer, research clearly shows that making the first bid allows you to “anchor” discussions in your favour.”
5. Speak to the right person
This is crucial. When asking for more pay, ensure the person you’re asking is someone that has your best interest close to their own. Think about the terms you want to couch this in and who has the power to make this happen.
Ku concludes: “When it comes to talking about and asking for money, we all get nervous and uncomfortable. But you are not alone and can learn from a fantastic wealth of research. If you don’t ask, you don’t get — a trite but true saying, so prepare thoroughly and ask politely.”
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