How to ask for a pay rise — and get it

Employees should research salary trends and provide proof of key work achievements that add value to their companies, recruitment experts advise

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How to ask your boss for a pay rise is an age-old question that continues to dominate the workplace, even as many employees around the world join the “quiet quitting” trend or push to continue working from home, despite pressure from companies for staff to return to the office.

Coupled with the rising cost of living globally, a pay rise is essential to help employees offset the effects of inflation on their spending power.

But asking for a pay rise is easier said than done — and is one topic that many employees dread because of a lack of confidence, according to Zahra Clark, head of the Middle East and North Africa for Tiger Recruitment.

“Everyone has a right to fair and equal pay but not everyone knows their worth or has the confidence to ask for the compensation they deserve,” Ms Clark tells The National.

In the US, only 37 per cent of employees had asked for a pay rise from their current employer, according to a recent survey of 160,000 workers by PayScale, a compensation software and data company.

However, if workers were to ask their employer for a raise, the chance of receiving one was “fairly good”, the survey found.

“Seventy per cent of employees who have asked for a raise received one … 39 per cent of those who asked for a raise received the amount they asked for,” it said.

“Another 31 per cent got a raise that was less than the amount they requested. The remaining 30 per cent did not get a raise.”

There are some crucial factors to consider before asking for an increase in your salary. Here, recruitment experts offer their top tips on how to boost your chances of success — and be paid what you are worth.

How much of a pay rise should I request?

The good news is that 49 per cent of companies in the UAE say they are budgeting for higher salaries during their annual pay reviews in 2022, according to a June report by professional services company Aon.

The actual and budgeted amount for regular pay increases for a majority of companies in the UAE ranges from 2 per cent to 6 per cent, the survey found.

In the US, the average salary increase for workers this year is projected to be about 3.4 per cent, global adviser Willis Towers Watson said in a report in January.

However, employees in specialist fields in the US are being offered pay increases of up to 20 per cent, recruitment experts say.

It is a similar outlook for employees in the UK, with salaries expected to rise by an average of 3 per cent this year as employers look to combat increasing recruitment and retention difficulties, the UK’s Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) said in its Labour Market Outlook in February.

In the current market, however, employees can ask for a rise of between 10 per cent and 20 per cent, Ms Clark says. “We have seen job candidates secure increases of as much as 30 per cent when they have multiple offers coming in,” she adds.

Meanwhile, recruitment expert Sylvia Taudien, chief executive and founder of Advantage Consultores, which recently established an office in Dubai, is more conservative about how much of a raise an employee should request.

“It should be at least 3 per cent and up to 10 per cent but it depends on the situation,” she says.

What should employees do before asking for a pay rise?

Before asking for a pay rise, employees should conduct their own research about the typical salary range for their roles and gather evidence of their achievements in the workplace, recruitment experts say.

“My advice to anyone planning to ask for a raise is to arm yourself with the facts and a clear and realistic idea of the salary you want,” Ms Clark says.

“Research the typical salary range for your role and find out what other companies in your industry and location offer employees at your level — and be thorough.


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“Your employer will expect you to have done your homework, so look at independent salary and benefits benchmarking reports and gather the information you need to build your case.”

It is also important to point out to your boss why you are engaged in your role, as well as highlight your achievements and the benefits you bring to a company, Ms Taudien says.

This could be anything from meeting key performance indicators to how you have developed in your job role.

“A labour relationship has to be win-win for both parties,” Ms Taudien says.

“Now is the right moment to explain that because of your engagement and results, you would like to receive an acknowledgement in the form of a salary raise. Don’t be afraid to use this vocabulary. This is a negotiation: I give to you — you give to me.”

Aside from researching the market, employees should also be prepared to explain why they deserve a pay rise, Ms Clark says.

Ask yourself the following questions: what additional responsibilities have you taken on and how have you contributed to the company’s success?

“The more evidence you can gather, the more convincing your request will be,” Ms Clark says.


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What are the dos and don’ts when asking for a pay rise?

There are a number of “etiquette” rules to consider when asking for a higher salary, such as avoiding referencing a colleague’s pay rise to bolster your own case.

“Simply saying 'X has had a pay rise, so I deserve one' isn’t going to work — you need to present a compelling case, such as you’ve taken on additional responsibilities or haven’t had a salary increase in several years,” Ms Clark says.

“I’d also caution people against using another offer to negotiate with their current employer. I see this happen a lot, but if salary is the reason why you’re looking to leave your job, broach the subject with your boss.”

Is there a secret to negotiating above the pay rise you have been offered?

There is no secret to success when it comes to negotiating a pay rise but being self-assured about your value will help your case, according to Ms Taudien.

Ms Clark agrees and says that checking salary ranges, the current inflation rate and the cost of living around the world will help employees to negotiate a higher pay rise than the one suggested by their employer.

“Also, provide examples of how a higher salary will motivate you and bring value to the business,” Ms Clark says.

“Ultimately, great employees cost a lot to replace, so in the current market, you’re in a strong position to ask for more and get it.”

When is the best time to ask for a pay rise?

It is important to choose your time wisely when asking for a pay rise, says Ms Clark.

The easiest time to negotiate is during your annual performance review, or even after you receive a job offer.

“The worst time is following a company’s poor financial results or during a particularly busy or challenging period for the company,” she says.

What if your pay rise request is rejected?

It is important to have a plan B in place if your employer turns down your request for a salary increase, Ms Clark says.

Sometimes, companies are not in a position to increase salaries — but remember there are other benefits that you could request.

“If they simply can’t afford to increase your salary, think about some of the other benefits you could negotiate that would make you feel valued, such as more days working from home or extra paid holidays,” Ms Clark adds.

But Ms Clark also advises employees not to be too disappointed if their request is rejected as they also have the option of switching jobs to increase their salaries.

“Those who haven’t secured the raise they hoped for are moving [jobs] for a higher salary,” Ms Clark says.

“This and a desire for hybrid roles have been the main drivers of job moves this year.”

5 tips to follow when asking for a pay rise

  • Do your research and check salary ranges for your job role
  • Provide evidence of your key achievements
  • Be self-assured about your abilities and worth
  • Explain how you have contributed to the company's success
  • Timing is crucial — annual reviews are a good opportunity to ask for a pay rise
Updated: September 15, 2022, 7:19 AM