Dear Working Wise:
I just found out that I am making less than other people in the same position. I love my job and the company I work for—I don’t want to leave, but I also want to be treated fairly. How do I ask for a raise? Signed, Fair Wage Wanted
Dear Fair Wage Wanted:
Everyone wants to be treated fairly. You could ask for a raise based only on the fact that others are making more than you, but you are more likely to be successful if you build a business case. Here are some tips to help you strengthen your case.
1. Research wages—Talk to other people who work in similar positions and/or similar companies and check with professional associations that conduct salary surveys. You can also check the 2011 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, which covers more than 400 occupations, at www.alis.alberta.ca/Wageinfo.
2. Build a business case—Raises are given to top performers, not those who “meet expectations”. How have you lowered costs, increased profits, quality, and customer satisfaction or contributed more than other staff? More importantly, how will you contribute to the organization in the future? Building a strong business case will help convince your boss that you deserve a raise.
3. Determine how much you want—Use your research to decide how much you want and be prepared with alternatives. If your boss says she can not afford to give you a raise, ask for a smaller raise, more vacation time, health or retirement benefits, parking, training, flex time, a company car, stock options, a better job title, etc.
4. Wait for the right time—The best times to ask for a raise are after you have received a great performance review, after you have just completed a large successful project, or at the beginning of a new fiscal year. Many employers have scheduled pay increments and will not consider any pay adjustments outside these schedules. If your timing is off, you might want to meet with your boss to talk about what you need to do to earn the highest possible raise or bonus.
5. Schedule a meeting—Schedule a meeting with your boss and be sure he understands that you are asking for a raise. Your boss will need to find out if he can fit your raise into the budget and what paperwork is required. If you surprise your boss, you will might be told “no” or “we’ll see”.
6. How to ask—Don’t ask for a raise because you need it—ask for it because you deserve it. Bring your research on wages, past accomplishments and future contributions with you. Don’t threaten to quit or say you have another job offer. Keep the conversation friendly, positive and constructive. You are a valuable member of the team with big ideas for the future and your compensation has fallen behind your contributions.
7. Handling “Yes”—Thank your boss and show that you appreciate the raise, but don’t go overboard. You were not begging for a raise, you deserved it. Don’t tell your co-workers that you got a raise. Your boss will not welcome a long line of staff at her door asking for a raise for the sole reason that you got one.
8. Handling “No”—If your boss says “No”, continue to be friendly and positive. Tell her that you understand and offer your alternatives. Ask how you can earn a raise in the future and ask for specific achievements so you can bring these up at your next review. Ask if you can meet again in six months for another salary review and keep your performance level high so you can continue to justify your worth.
Do you have a work-related question? Send your questions to Working Wise, at email@example.com. Charles Strachey is a manager with Alberta Human Services. This column is provided for general information.