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The only way is up: How to ask for a pay rise in soaring living costs

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​If there was ever a time to ask for a pay rise, it’s most definitely now.

The UK is facing its sharpest annual increase in the cost of living since the early 1980s, according the The Guardian. With this, you will have almost certainly noticed that there has been an increase in the price of your weekly food shop, gas and electricity bills and filling up your tank for you commute.

Simply put, rising costs are everywhere.

Despite these unfavourable conditions, it can still be tricky to approach your boss to ask for a larger salary. Money is very much a taboo topic of conversation, and some can find it awkward to have such open conversations about earnings, making it harder to breach the matter of a pay rise.

“8 in 10 adults reported an increase in their cost of living in 2022, compared to 6 in 10 in 2021”

Considering this, we have put together some guidance for you when you are ready to open the dialogue.

Benchmarking salaries in the market

Prior to approaching the subject of a pay rise, it’s a smart idea to research what others with your job title are earning in your location and industry. This will be beneficial as it will highlight if you are being paid unfairly for your expertise and responsibilities. You can then draw on this insight when establishing a realistic number to begin negotiating your salary. The last thing you want to do is begin the discussion with a completely unrealistic request.

‘It’s not enough to just say “well they’re on more money than me”, you have to be able to refer to stats and facts which show your performance is also aligned to that person and therefore you deserve a rise in salary’ –Ryan Doyle – Business Manager

Try not to compare yourself too much to the salaries of others within your company unless there is a completely unfair disparity in pay. Employers tend to dislike when your primary argument is ‘I would like a pay rise because they are on more money than me’. You need to be able to show through your personal performance why you should be given a pay rise, illuminate how you are going above and beyond others that are being paid more.

Providing a range means short-change

When sharing with your boss what salary you would ideally be on, it’s best not to start with a range. Your employer will tend to fixate on the lower end of the scale, and it is harder to negotiate yourself upwards.

“Start with a salary higher than what you are ideally looking for so that you can come down if needed” – Tom Hammond – Financial Controller

Our recommendation is to begin with the number you want or higher, that way you have some extra wiggle room and will mean you’ll be more likely to end on a number nearer your initial proposal.

Know your worth to prove your worth

Having a solid understanding of what is expected of you within your role is extremely valuable before asking for a pay rise. You need to ensure you are meeting your role requirements and prove how you are surpassing expectations.

Familiarise yourself with your job description so you can reference specifically where you are exceeding performance, not just for generated business but efficiency across all your controllable targets.

You should be able to answer questions that your boss will undoubtedly fire at you after opening the discussion, such as ‘What additional responsibilities have you taken on?’ and ‘What are you providing that somebody else couldn’t?

Prove you are worth the investment.

Timing is everything

Wait for a win…

‘It’s always important to recognise where the company is financially at the time’ – Ryan Doyle – Business Manager

One thing to absolutely avoid is asking for a pay rise during the company’s worst month/quarter. This increases the chances of being shut down straight away due to the company not being in the best financial position.

What’s more, wait until you have a win to boast about. You may have just exceeded your sales target or lead a lucrative project. Having a win behind you will help to reinforce your value and encourage your employer to consider your salary increase more favourably.

Finally, where should you begin?

All this advice is great, but you may be thinking ‘How should I start the conversation?’ Below are our steps to help get you on your way:

1. Email your manager/employer and ask to have a 1-1 meeting to talk about your personal career progression.

2. Provide an opening statement for no longer than 3 minutes, with clear and concise messaging, providing the evidence you have collated.

3. Close the statement with a question asking for their thoughts and feedback.

Be strong, direct and don’t go off topic, you’ll be sure to hit the bullseye.

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