It seems the minimum wage conversation is dominating most discussions about wages. How will companies afford this influx of expense? Is it enough? Is it too much? Will the cost of living raise? One group of people that aren’t getting the focus are the people who make above minimum wage, but they may be negatively affected if the cost of living jumps significantly. This leaves many of those workers wondering if they should get a raise too.
Unlike legislated wage hikes, these employees will have to ask their managers for a raise themselves. How can they be sure they are asking at the right time?
If you just lost a major client, it is probably not the right time to be asking for a raise. The decision makers are trying to run a business and for that reason they need to see a return on their investment. Have you been working longer hours to get the deal done? Have you saved the company money on operating costs? Obtained a new—and relevant—certification? Made a big sale? The time to approach the question is when your value is front and center.
The Company’s Performance
You do not exist in a vacuum. No matter how hard you are working, or how many nights you are staying late, if the company as a whole is not doing well financially, you will not be getting a raise. Again, this is a business decision—the needs of the many before the needs of the few. The decision makers at your company need to keep costs down and profits up above all else. Asking for a raise when the company doesn’t have the financial means to provide it puts your managers in the very uncomfortable position of having to say no. You may be their very best employee, they see your value and they want to keep you, but they want to stay in business more.
This works on two levels: first, because no matter how well you are doing, or how well the company is doing, they might still say no when you ask for a raise. That’s just the reality of the situation. There could be things going on behind the scenes that are playing into their decision making. So having a backup plan if you are denied your request is important. Will you stay on with the company making the same salary? Have you considered taking a restructured benefit plan in lieu of a raise? Do you have another job lined up?
Having another job lined up brings us to the second level. Employers are more likely to give a raise when the risk of losing a valuable employee is present. There are, however, conflicting opinions on whether or not you should use another job offer as leverage as it may destroy the trust you have built with your current employer. Proceed with caution.
While there are certainly no guarantees in life—aside from death and taxes—taking these three main things into account before asking for a raise will ensure that you are in the best possible position to receive a yes. Good luck!