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10/6/2020 11:55:27 AM

Successfully negotiate a pay rise in uncertain economic times

Coronavirus has torn through the fabric of our society, affecting people at every level and from all walks of life. There is much talk of the 'new normal' but with renwed local lockdowns and an uncertain winter ahead, just how do we adjust to this new way of living? For many of us, just hanging onto our job is the main concern right now - salaries pay the bills and provide precious disposable income - but just because we're going through unprecendented times doesn't mean we should put our careers on hold. 

While it might seem like a bad idea to request a pay rise right now and you probably think your boss is unwilling or unable to increase their offer, it’s not necessarily the case. It's true, we're in the midst of a global pandemnic so your concerns about being rebuffed aren’t unfounded but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. 

So, if you’d like to negotiate a better offer during a time of economic uncertainty, here are our suggestions.
 

Educate yourself

Before you enter into any sort of negotiation, it’s crucial that you equip yourself with the relevant salary data for your position. What do other people with your job earn locally? Does your industry’s trade association publish salary data to gauge current compensation levels?

Look into this; it’s much better to make a request for a tangible figure you can support.
 

Think timings

Your company might be willing to increase your pay, but not be able to straight away. Think about goals you’d like to achieve in a period defined by you before you raise the subject again i.e six months. You can then revisit the issue contingent on achieving your goals.

Beyond that, you want to consider how long you want or are able to keep your current position on your existing salary. Whilst we certainly don’t counsel leaving in a huff, if your circumstances mean that your salary will leave you in hardship, you want to continue to evaluate your options.
 

Share the love

If you’re asking for a financial commitment from your boss, it’s wise to restate your commitment to the company. This point is especially salient during a period of economic hardship. Your line manager needs to know that you are dedicated to your role irrespective of a raise.

Saying that you’ll stick with the company without a pay increase doesn’t mean that they won’t bother giving you one;  it’s much more likely that if they know how dedicated you are, your boss will more likely agree to a salary in future even if they can’t right now.
 

Think outside the box

An uplift in lifestyle doesn’t always mean a bigger number on your wage slip. More money may not be feasible for your boss, but allowing you more paid holiday time or moving the boundaries of your bonus in your favour might be.

If you’re more interested in your progression within the company, a new job title or paid training might mean more to you. You can negotiate perks that save you money, which effectively increases your pay without costing your employer - so be smart about what you ask for!
 

What else can you bring to the table?

Companies sometimes lay off employees and ask their remaining workforce to fill those holes without any additional pay when times are hard financially. If this has happened to you, in a negotiation, you can use this to your advantage.

When negotiating, mention the other skills you’ll bring to the team, such as graphic design or web analytics. These skills might not be integral to your role, but they come in handy if the company’s workforce was reduced. By helping the company make savings from hiring for these positions or contracting the work out to freelancers, they may be willing to pass those savings to you.
 

No means no

Sometimes, the economy really will tie your boss’s hands. If you are getting nowhere, ask the boss if they will consider a second meeting six months down the road. If you can’t get a raise, have Plan B ready. Can you have a one-time bonus that won’t influence future salary? Can you work from home a few days a week? Can you take on a new leadership role?

If you stayed apprised of your company’s financial situation, you’ll know whether profits exist to fund your raise. We might be approaching a recession, but it’s not a depression.

There are a few industries that are really hurting, but good people will always be in demand. Think about what is best for you, what is realistic, and what timeline you need to clarify. And good luck! 

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