Is it time to ask for a pay rise? The five tests you need to pass

Photo by krakenimages on Unsplash
Photo by krakenimages on Unsplash

All around us prices are increasing.

Whether heating and lighting our homes, filling up our cars with petrol, paying the mortgage/rent or simply the price of the weekly shop, the country and our community are in the midst of a cost of living crisis.

Even Martin Lewis, who has been helping people budget and save money for more than 20 years, admits he is now “out of tools”.

On 1 April, things will get worse again. With a new energy cap coming in, 54% above the old one, bills for most are expected to increase by more than £1,300.

With all these outgoings increasing, one solution may be to look at what’s coming in.

So is now the right time to ask for a pay increase? And how exactly does someone work out what they are worth?

Every situation and business is, of course, different but here are some thoughts and perspectives that may assist.

Firstly, never act on emotion. Just feeling you deserve it, or in today’s environment badly need it, doesn’t mean the request for a pay rise will be accepted.

Secondly, is to understand that not every firm will offer a straight percentage increase on what you were earning before. Some may incentivise with bonuses or offer promotions/new roles that come with increased salary, but bear in mind this is likely to also come with increased responsibility, stress and workload.

As you begin to plan your approach for a salary increase, keep in mind that it should ideally be objective, informed and reasonable. Here are five tests to help:

1) Can it be evidenced: Are you able to present a case to demonstrably prove you are adding value to your employer? Do you have evidence, whether details of targets exceeded, personal achievements or emails from colleagues or clients praising your work?

2) Can it be justified: When was the last time you had a pay rise? If it was in the recent past then another is unlikely, but if it’s been years you could be in a stronger position. We also find that many people have had changes in titles, increased workloads and even promotions with the promise that an increase in pay will “follow”. Now may be the time to remind.

3) Is it comparable: This can be hard to establish, but it’s always worth doing some research to see if there is a market benchmark salary for your role. This may be looking within your organisation or at competitors. If you are in a position where you are underpaid for your role, especially in a sector with lots of competition you could potentially jump to, that will certainly help your case.

4) Is it acceptable: You may have built a strong case using tests 1-3, but you also need to look internally. Is your company making a good profit, especially now we have come out of the pandemic restrictions, and in a position to reward you? Or are they struggling financially, maybe facing the same pressures of rising costs that you are? Are they in the private, public or charity sector, as the latter two often have much less leeway to consider your request?

5) Is the timing right: It feels obvious, but it’s always a good time to ask for a pay rise when you are in a period of high performance. If you’ve been succeeding, and crucially that success has been noted, then the time may well be right.  And of course, it goes without saying that your ask will never go down well if you pick a bad time with your boss!

As I said earlier, every situation is different, and it might make sense to have a conversation with an expert such as our employment advisers here at Work Avenue (free of charge of course) – but if you can pass these five tests then now might be the time to finally find out just how much more you might be worth to your employer!

About the Author
David Arden is the CEO of Work Avenue. He has a background in project management, business change and delivering strategy and has held roles in the public, private and not for profit sectors.