Getting a low pay raise can feel like the professional equivalent of a good, hard kick in the teeth, especially if you’ve spent the year working hard and believe you’ve performed well. If consider your latest salary increase to be low, take some time to get the facts before approaching your employers about it.
Know Your Worth
If you haven’t had a decent pay increase for a few years, see how your wage compares to graduates starting out in your industry. If you’re being paid below the going rate, you are in a good bargaining position. You also may be able to find information on what your contemporaries are paid by contacting the trade association for your industry if one exists.
If your company has had a bad year, it may not be giving large pay increases, no matter how good your performance has been. You won’t make yourself very popular among your bosses if you immediately react to a low pay increase by throwing a fit. Do some homework about how well your company has performed over the past financial year before complaining about your low pay increase. You won’t look like a team player if your colleagues have graciously accepted their low increase for the common good while you’re haggling for more money.
Make an Assessment
If you find that you’re paid less than the median rate for workers in your industry and that the board of your company has been celebrating bumper profits recently, you may decide to have a chat with your superiors about the paucity of your salary increase, especially if you hear that one of your colleagues received a better raise than you have despite not performing as well. If it turns out that you’re not doing too badly compared to your fellow professionals and the business you work for has faced difficult financial problems lately, it might be better to take your poor pay increase on the chin.
A Quiet Word
If you believe you have been treated unfairly, schedule an informal meeting with your line manager. Explain gently why you think you’re entitled to a higher pay increase, and be prepared to argue your position. If you can’t negotiate a better pay rate, try asking for enhanced benefits such as more time off or a better company car. Make sure you have your facts in order before making any accusations you have no evidence for. Don’t mention rumors about other workers’ pay increases if these are unsubstantiated. Resist the urge to get angry or make it personal, and know when to stop when you get an emphatic “no.” If you really are worth so much more than you’ve been offered, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding better-paying work elsewhere.