The economy is showing no signs of a rebound. Corporate costs are rising. Layoff announcements have increased significantly and the heaviest job-cutting period of the year is just beginning. It is probably not the best time to ask for a salary increase, right?
For most American workers, pay raises have averaged about 3.8 percent in 2008, virtually unchanged from the 3.7 percent salary increase averaged in 2007, according to new survey data from global consulting firm Mercer LLC. The rate is expected to remain the same in 2009.
These marginal increases do little to combat inflation, which some experts expect to approach four percent in 2009, or rising energy and food prices which have escalated 28 percent and 8.7 percent respectively over last year’s cost. In fact, overall consumer prices have climbed 5.5 percent from July 2007 to July 2008, the quickest rate of increase since May 1991, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
It is not surprising that companies are rewarding their top performing employees with above average pay raises. Organizations turn to these employees to help them get through this slow economic time and they want to ensure they retain these workers for the long-term.
Do your homework. Finding out how your company is faring through the economic slump is a critical piece of information to know before you even broach the subject of a raise with your boss. If your company is doing well, you can use this information to determine how much of an increase in pay to ask for. However, if your company is struggling to turn a profit, showing you understand the organization’s precarious financial situation can help eliminate your boss’ immediate resistance to you asking for a raise and open the door for compromise.
Prepare to make your case. Arm yourself with facts that support your request for increased compensation. Gather emails from superiors praising your performance and make note of your achievements since your last raise. Documenting your contributions to an organization is more important than ever in an unstable economy. Employers need to see exactly what you have accomplished to warrant a salary increase. Maybe you’ve taken on extra responsibilities after your company laid off workers or you found ways to cut wasteful spending. These kinds of achievements showcase your worth to the company, especially in today’s tight economy, and help support your claim that you should be compensated accordingly.
Research your salary. You should also research and find out what other professionals in your field and location are making. If your salary is below average, this data is a great bargaining chip in getting a bump in payment. If it is on target, it gives you a starting point from which to adjust according to your value as an employee.
If at first refused, try again. Listen to your boss’ explanation for refusing to grant you a raise. If it is budgetary, ask for non-monetary things like more vacation days or the opportunity for company-paid training. If it is based on performance, work with your boss to set goals and a date to review the topic again.