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How to ask for a pay rise

By Emma Tee on

Salaries are going up. According to the ONS, the average salary was £38,600 compared to 2019 which placed the average salary at £36,611, a rise of 5.4%. 

On the face of it, increasing salaries is good news but with the cost of living increasing it’s a necessity for many. We’re no Economists, but we think it’s fair to say that we’re all feeling the pinch (apart from Jeff Bezos, perhaps) and predictions mean that we’re going to be feeling this increase well into the Winter and beyond.

Despite seeing employers offering higher starting salaries, those that haven’t moved have stagnated, salary-wise. Many employers have felt the pinch themselves and have had to go into survival mode, putting salary freezes in place, if not redundancies. People have had it hard on both sides, with employees being placed under pressure and working harder than ever before, without feeling the benefit. 

It’s understandable why people are looking for pay rises. It’s also understandable why people are finding it more difficult than usual, given the current circumstances, but you are entitled to ask – the worst thing your employer can say is no! 

Asking for more money is never easy, so whenever asking for a pay rise, planning is instrumental. You may think that just asking is enough, but if you do your research and put together a strategy your manager will take your request more seriously and, hopefully, make your request more successful. Below, we’ll share the steps you should take:

  1. Finances: If you’re aware of the financial goings-on in the company and know it’s not in a healthy position, then it’s likely not the best time to ask for a pay rise. But if you aren’t privy to that information or understand the company to be in a good place, it’s as good a time as any to ask. It is also worth noting when budgets are set. If you get your request in just before, or as the budgets are being confirmed, your request will be in your manager’s mind and should be in a position to request higher salary budgets. 
  2. Research: Research is imperative when asking for a pay rise. Take a look at other roles similar to yours in and around your location. Make a note of the responsibilities of the roles advertised, are you doing more in your job than other roles require? There are also plenty of salary checkers that you can use to compare your salary against others, Indeed and Total Jobs both have one that you can use for free. 
  3. Achievements: You need to think about yourself and what you have achieved to date. Have you undertaken training? Have you taken on more responsibilities since you joined or had your last pay rise? Have you had a positive impact on the company, its clients, and its finances? What are your future plans? What else are you going to bring to the role in the next 12 months? Write all of these down, and compare what you do to the job description – if you’ve surpassed what is expected of you then there’s no reason why you don’t deserve a pay rise. 
  4. Timing: Timing is everything when asking for a pay rise, so deciding when to ask is something that needs to be considered. Don’t wait too long, once you’ve done your research and are confident that you’re in a position to ask, then arrange a meeting with your manager. Before the meeting, you should let them know why you’ve arranged the meeting, letting them know the reason for the meeting means your manager will be better prepared (they may even be able to give you an answer, there are then!), and should make the meeting less awkward. Monthly or quarterly reviews can also be used to bring up pay rises, if you want to be considered for a pay rise in the near future – note it during these meetings.
  5. Prepare: Generally, money isn’t something we like to talk about, so to gain more confidence, prepare, prepare, prepare! You could draft a script, summarising the reasons behind your request, and run through these with your friends or family. Think about the questions you may be asked, think about possible outcomes, think about every scenario that could happen, and prepare for them. 
  6. Meeting: When heading into a meeting like this one, you’ll need to show confidence, even if your belly is filled with butterflies. It’s time to convince your manager that you deserve the pay rise you’re asking for, so make sure you sit up tall, keep good eye contact, and be certain of your value. This level of confidence, along with your research and preparation, will let your manager know that you are serious about your request. The more confidence you exude, the more chance you have of achieving the pay rise you’re after. 

The above should put you in a good position, but it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get the pay rise you deserve or want. You should always expect some opposition and may be met with an answer you didn’t want to hear, even after defending your request. If this is the case, asking for additional benefits such as training, flexible hours, a higher pension contribution, or an extra couple of days holiday is never a bad thing! It’s also worth asking your manager why the decision was made. If the reason is within your control, ask them if you can explore a pay rise in the future when you have improved the skills you have or have successfully led a certain project. And, whatever you do, try not to give an ultimatum! It’s not fair to your employer, or you – you’ll be putting unnecessary pressure on yourself to find a new role for more money and no one needs to go through that!