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Can I ask for a pay rise during the pandemic?

by Shayna Sappington
30th Oct 2020

We asked Recruiters’ Andrew Sheehan about the best way to request a pay rise right now

Many companies are struggling right now but does that mean that we should put off asking for a pay rise if one is due?

It’s a fair question, one that Recruiters‘ marketing manager Andrew Sheehan has given a careful and calculated answer to.

Recruiters is recognised as one of Ireland’s most trusted recruitment agencies for jobs in sales, marketing, technology, finance, HR and business operations.

“It’s true that the pandemic has brought a lot of uncertainty for businesses, but asking for a salary increase remains the same in good times and bad – uncertain,” explains Sheehan. 

“Therefore, don’t think that it’s wrong to ask for a salary increase now or ever.”

Know your value

When approaching a pay raise request, it is important to know your value. Like Sheehan said, salary increases are always an uncertain area, pandemic aside.

Knowing how valuable your skills and experience are can have a major impact on your request. 

If you haven’t already done so, research the average salary for your position and be prepared to use that information to your advantage.

If you are being paid below average, bring this point up during your pay increase meeting, and if your pay matches the average, point out what extra tasks you do to deserve an above average salary.

Make sure you’re on the same page

It is important to establish a foundation before you make your request. Does your supervisor know the extent of your current job role? Does he/she know that you’ve taken on extra work? 

Be confident when bringing your boss up to speed on your job’s roles and expectations.

List the things you bring to the table: methods that make you the most efficient, new skills you have learned since the start of your job and your current work situation (from home or in office).

“If you’re confident that you have exceeded expectations based on your job description and responsibilities, then asking for a raise shouldn’t be difficult,” says Sheehan.

“If it is, then you need to discuss the gap between your employer’s expectations and the value you know you bring.”

Points to make 

If you’re one of the many working from home, there are several points you can make when asking for a pay rise.

For example, working from home usually calls for an increase in electricity bills, a higher monthly rate for high-speed wifi connection and a higher grocery bill. 

Plus, it can take a mental toll on employees who struggle with the lack of socialisation and work-life separation. 

Maybe you were planning on negotiating your salary when your annual contract was up, which so happened to fall during the pandemic. In this case, you have every right to proceed with your request.

What if they say ‘no’

It is important to go into the meeting with a few plan B options. If a company is struggling, it is highly unlikely that your supervisor will be able to grant you a substantial pay rise.

If so, have a few alternative options available. For example, if you are seeking a ten per cent pay increase, you could ask for just five per cent now and five per cent after the pandemic (or when the company has its regular income coming in).

You could also list extra tasks that you could take on for the pay rise, like a new project or incentive for the company.

Or you could request a post-pandemic bonus to compensate for extra hours you have worked or the extra mental energy and innovation that has been required of you during lockdown.

And, if all else fails, the most important thing to remember is that ‘no’ does not mean ‘never’. 

Your employer will know you are seeking a pay rise and you will be on their radar for future tasks and promotions. 

If they do say ‘no’, be sure to ask when a pay rise would be possible and what you need to do to receive one in the future. This way, your employer will know that you plan on being with the company long-term. 

Read more: How long will we actually be working from home?

Read more: Stuck in a career rut? Our expert-led panel can help. Join our free IMAGE x Springboard+ virtual event

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