Tips to secure a pay rise ahead of a performance review

Tips to secure a pay rise ahead of a performance review

Annual performance reviews are about to occur in many organisations. If a pay rise is top of mind, it is inevitably a delicate discussion. Add the current economic environment and the conversation just increased in intensity!

On the one hand, we have record-high inflation rates. That, in conjunction with the global skills crisis, surely makes the request for a salary increase a fait accompli.

The economic slowdown is forecasted to continue, causing major market uncertainty. It doesn’t mean a pay rise discussion is off the table, but you need to be prepared.

As an experienced recruiter, here are my tips for securing a pay rise:

1. Know your environment

Already in 2023, we have seen major scale redundancies. It is across the board, but information services, construction, and transportation seem to be sectors heading up the field.

If you are in a susceptible industry, consider the timing of the conversation. You don’t want to appear insensitive or meerkat attention to yourself.

2. Mindset

Nerves and anxiety are always the uninvited companions of pay rise discussions. It’s normal. You might be feeling financial pressure and a level of disgruntlement. Be careful that your mind is not preparing you for a ‘battle’. Instead, channel calmness and positivity.

Prepare yourself for all outcomes. If the answer is ‘no’, ask what needs to be done and by when. Document the goals, diarise the next meeting, and use it as motivation. If the answer is met halfway with your request, treat this as a win, especially in our current times.

3. Value created

Positioning your argument solely about your personal circumstances is not a tactic to take. It’s more powerful to draw attention to the value you are creating. Review your job description to see where expectations and goals have been exceeded.

If you have taken on additional responsibilities, monetise them. Or if you have saved on costs, show what these are. Include any new skills learnt and knowledge acquired. Also, provide any positive stakeholder or customer feedback.

4. The big picture

In 2022, the great resignation forced the budgetary hand of many organisations. Overreached budgets to compete and compensate were the norm. Annual wage growth in 2022 for Australia was 3.3 per cent. But my feeling is that was the minimum.

Our own annual salary guide for administration professionals saw salaries increase by 13.7 per cent and SEEK’s advertised salary index shows a 4.8 per cent yearly change. If you have received a pay increase in the last 12 months, consider the timing and the amount you are asking for now.

Presently, we are experiencing a gap in the growth of wages compared with inflation. However, we have also had the luxury of the other side. For the greater part of 2014 to 2021, Australia experienced higher wages compared to the rate of inflation.

Use all the information at your disposal to determine the level of pay increase to ask for.

5. Practise

How many times in our career do we negotiate a pay rise? Hardly ever. So, why do we wing it? Practising is non-negotiable. Yet, most of us neglect to do so.

If presenting to the board, you practise and know your facts. This is equally important, not just for a positive outcome, but for your reputation and credibility.

Talking about money is uncomfortable. However, the more accustomed you become, the easier it will be. Take your notes with you. It will help with the nerves and to remain composed and professional.

Have the pay rise conversation

These are not ordinary times. There is no set rule or best-practice guide to asking for a pay rise, let alone in today’s world. Just as we expect our employers to be authentic, caring, and fair, so should we. After all, as employees, we make up the collective culture and ultimately determine our workplace environment.

Have the pay rise conversation. However, be well prepared, rehearsed and know your facts. Money is important. But there is much more that contributes to our happiness and wellbeing.

Ultimately, we aspire to have a job we enjoy, providing a sense of meaning and purpose. Negotiate on all factors, not just for now but for your future as well.

Roxanne Calder

This article was written by Roxanne Calder.

Roxanne is the author of Employable – 7 Attributes to Assuring Your Working Future and the founder and managing director of EST10, one of Sydney’s most successful administration recruitment agencies.

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