- Inflation reached a 30-year high and most wages are not keeping up with it.
- Many employees rely on their employer to notice their good work and offer them salary increases, but now may be a good time to be more proactive about asking for a raise.
- If you want to ask for a raise, plan to initiate the conversation with your boss at least a month or two before that time period.
With inflation at a 30-year-high, workers’ wages are seemingly taking a pay cut. This may prompt a larger number of employees asking for a pay raise in the near future, and rightly so.
Recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics highlights rising costs. The consumer price index in September spiked 5.4% higher this year. The growth even pushed the U.S. government to call for a nearly 6% cost-of-living increase for people on Social Security; the largest increase in four decades.
We’ve seen higher food prices at the supermarket, the skyrocketing cost of gas, and the inflated prices of houses. Most wages are not keeping up with inflation, and it may be up to workers to ask for an increase in their pay.
Many employees rely on their employer to notice their good work and offer them salary increases, but this is a strategy that can leave people earning less than they could be receiving if they’d simply speak up.
Some people feel greedy and ungrateful when they consider asking for a raise, but if you believe your work performance brings great value to your company, you have no reason to feel that way.
“Ask for more. The worst thing that can happen is they tell you no. And while it feels awkward to be rejected, it feels worse to miss out on more money, opportunity, and access,” Laurie Ruettimann, the host of the podcast Punk Rock HR, and a former human resources leader, said in her book Betting on You.
When is the right time to ask for a raise?
1. Understand that it’s normal to ask.
As nervous as you might feel about asking for a raise, remember that it’s not as big of a deal for your boss who deals with salaries all the time. Assuming your manager is reasonable or has any previous experience managing people, they know it’s normal for people to ask for a raise.
Even if your manager doesn’t say yes to your request, you’re not likely to damage your relationship as long as you’re not asking for an amount that’s wildly out of sync with the market for your work, and you have a track record of strong work.
A raise is recognition that you’re contributing at a higher level than when your salary was last set; it’s a way for employers to pay fair market value for your work and to keep you around.
It’s in your manager’s best interest to know when you’ve begun to think your work is worth more, because otherwise you’re eventually going to want to find a different job that does pay you competitively.
2. Be considerate of your timing when you ask.
It’s best not to ask for a raise if your boss is especially busy, having a bad day, or nervous about impending budget cuts. On the other hand, if you’ve just saved the day with an important client or garnered rave reviews for a high-profile project, or if your boss has seemed particularly pleased with you lately, now might be a particularly good time to make the request, according to The Cut.
3. It might be time to ask for a pay raise if you’ve been doing excellent work for a year since your salary was last set.
Some companies will revisit your salary every year on their own when it’s time for performance reviews. But plenty won’t bring it up on their own, in which case you’ll need to figure out when to bring it up.
If your salary was already increased in the last 12 months, expecting another one before a year is up generally isn’t realistic and is likely to come across as entitled. The same is true if you haven’t been in the job for a year yet.
If you’ve been making a lot of mistakes or your boss hasn’t seemed pleased with your work, a request for a raise isn’t likely to go over well, and you risk seeming like you’re not assessing your own performance accurately.
4. Know your company’s raise and budget cycles.
If you work for a company that generally gives raises once a year, pay attention to when that normally happens.
In some companies, it might be around the anniversary of your start date. Others might assess everyone’s salary at the end of the year – often tied to your employer’s fiscal year and budget process.
Plan to initiate the conversation with your boss at least a month or two before that time period. If you wait until decisions on raises have already been made, it might be too late to ask for the pay raise you desire.
5. Think of what to say if your boss’s answer is “no” or “maybe.”
If your boss/manager doesn’t give you a firm yes and instead says they’ll think about it, that’s okay too. Lots of managers won’t say yes on the spot. But if you get a “maybe,” make sure you’re clear on what next steps are.
If the answer to a salary increase is “no,” this is a perfect opportunity to ask what it would take to earn a raise in the future. A decent manager should be able to explain to you what you’d need to do to earn more.
You can then assess whether you’re able and willing to follow the path your manager lays out. If your manager isn’t able to give you specifics about how you can earn a raise in the future, that’s a useful signal that if you want more money, you may need to leave in order to get it somewhere else.
6. Be prepared, your manager may say that the company also has to contend with inflationary costs.
If your boss says no to a pay raise because the company cannot afford it due to inflation, provide a counteroffer.
According to Forbes, you could propose a retention bonus or stock options. You could also negotiate for non-monetary items such as working remotely, four-day workweeks, flexible schedules, enhanced corporate title, more vacation time, or an increase in contributions to the company’s retirement plans.