Rai$e the Question

Conversation with employees

When is the right time to ask for a raise? Does the knot in your stomach say never? Don’t let fear be your compass. With a war for talent unfolding that has triggered widespread turnover and workplace disruption the time to advocate for yourself is now.   

This advice is for all professionals but with special encouragement to women. According to Glassdoor’s “Pay During Covid-19” survey 59% of men plan to ask for a pay raise/bonus in the next 12 months compared to 48% of women. This is consistent with what’s been happening throughout the past two years with 73% of women indicating they didn’t ask for a pay increase/bonus during recent covid months while only 58% of men held back. 

Let’s talk turkey. First, and this is counterintuitive, it’s not about you. It’s about the business. Adopt a corporate mindset as you evaluate your position. Build a credible, strong, and objective argument as you would approach any other work or business problem. 

Good reasons to ask for more money: 

Start by obtaining objective information and determine if research affirms your salary isn’t competitive. The market is changing fast, so this is a real factor. Research isn’t hearsay its fact based. There are reputable public salary guides published by recruitment firms that are helpful and other sources including Glassdoor or Indeed. Recruiters can provide you with credible commentary based on current market influences so it’s smart to check in with a recruiter you know and respect. 

Articulate your accomplishments in tangible terms. Your value can be substantiated through measured impact. Have you assumed a bigger role, saved your company money, achieved new results that demonstrate your contribution in business terms? It often makes sense to surface salary discussions during a performance review season when you can tie this topic to goals, career path, and professional development.  

Reasons that aren’t so good: 

You’ve been working hard and are a loyal, long serving employee. Kudos are great but not credible business reasons for more compensation.   

Your personal circumstances have changed. A new baby, a move, even an illness are not substantial reasons for a salary increase.   

Salaries reflect market conditions and business results but are not based on your need or loyalty.   

The grass is greener elsewhere 

If you believe moving to a new role is required to secure a better financial package, plan a candid conversation with your boss. Be specific about what your research indicates and what you are seeking financially as well as the reasons you would like to stay in your current role. Employers appreciate direct and honest communication and the opportunity to respond before learning an employee has chosen to leave and feeling blindsided.      

If you don’t succeed in obtaining the salary level you sought, try to maintain that business focus, and don’t make it personal. Have a few other asks at the ready that matter to you such as professional development or added time off. Negotiations are best achieved by smart, professional individuals who find the intersection between the business and personal needs. 

Catherine J. Woodman
Catherine Woodman J. Woodman

Senior Associate