10 things not to say when asking for a pay rise in the new normal

Want to ask for a pay rise, but not quite sure how to phrase it in these strange times? Here are 10 things you REALLY don’t want to say.

As working from home continues to evolve into the new normal, for much of the UK’s workforce it has magnified their value within the workplace.  ‘

HR Director Ash Donovan at GearHungry says that working from home shines a spotlight on productivity and just how much you are accountable for.

There are fewer ways to disguise the fact that you may have left some tasks on the back burner or missed that client call.  As a result, it soon becomes clear to people just how much of an asset they are to their team.  

Inevitably, this leads to employees assessing their salary to determine if they are due a pay rise. 

Asking for a pay rise can be daunting, especially as many are now forced to approach the subject on Zoom, as face to face meetings are out of the question.  

Working from home brings a new set of office politics as well as policies. To help you make a successful request, Donovan shares the 10 things to avoid saying when asking for a pay rise in the new normal.

1) ‘Hey, I sent you a message on Skype’

Working from home sees the workforce depend on online conferencing platforms. Whether Zoom, Slack or Skype is the tool of choice, sending colleagues messages that replicate a what’s app group is somewhat inevitable.

When working from home, 90% of your conversations throughout the working day can occur in text format. Subsequently, the lines that differentiate professional tone from casual can appear blurred.

The way in which we communicate with our co-workers may have altered however, the working day subject matters are likely to have stayed the same.

It is vital that we are mindful of the subject matters that we choose to discuss within a text messaging format on the likes of skype.

Questions that need quick answers, a quick catch up and even sharing docs is likely to be fine however, asking for a pay rise through the medium of messaging is not going to be well received. Even if it is not your intention, it can appear aloof, rude and at best, lazy.

If it is unlikely that you will engage in a face to face meeting soon, send a polite email to your relevant co-workers requesting a video meeting at their early convenience as you would like to discuss your career progression within the company.

Not only does this set the tone for the meeting, it gives the recipient the opportunity to set aside sufficient time and avoids catching them off guard.  

2) ‘While we are all here’

Video meetings often comprise of several members of the team. Working from home can lead to colleagues creating more of a bond as the speak to each other often and make more of an effort to engage in small talk.

Your video calls are likely to take place in your own home, meaning that you are comfortable in your surroundings. This can see people let their guard down and almost forget workplace etiquette.

I have found that when on a conference call, some people can forget who is on it if they have not spoken in a while or assume that not every attendee is paying attention.

When discussing a pay rise, ensure that only relevant parties are in attendance. Confirm that no party can enter the call without permission and that even though the discussion space is online, it is confidential.

3) ‘Sorry, you are breaking up’

A solid internet connection has never been more important than in 2020. Not only will it safeguard the obligatory Netflix binge, it can make or break the productivity of your working day.

It is inevitable that internet issues will arise when working from home. It can be frustrating for everyone involved but it is not the end of the world.

However, if your area is prone to slow internet, or you have not checked its speed in a while, make sure you do before any important video calls. When asking for a pay rise, it is vital that you portray you and your workspace as professional as possible.

Ensure that your video background holds a professional appearance and check your internet speed. If you are experiencing difficulties, make sure the other attendees have your phone number so that they can call you just in case.

4) ‘So, I was talking to her and…’

Of course, co-workers are going to talk about the happenings of the workplace. Talking salary is somewhat of a taboo however, there are times when some make it known.

Reviewing salary with even your closest of co workers can be a recipe for disaster, more so if you are receiving the same wage. What tends to happen is that colleagues begin to compare their scope of work and its quality, as well as sick days, holidays and even their relationship with peers.

Worst case scenario is that an employee discovers that a co-worker receives a higher salary and it is not justified, in their opinion. This can lead to workplace conflict and tension.

If you are asking for a pay rise, do not mention your fellow colleagues under any circumstances. You may believe that you understand their scope of work however, it is unlikely that you do.

Many people are accountable for tasks and you just do not realise it. They also can provide a quality in their work that is not comparable to their colleagues.

If you have reason to believe that your salary is lower than your colleagues and it is unfair, do not be afraid to organise a meeting with HR. It is sometimes forgotten that HR is not just hiring and firing. We are here for support and to ensure that the workplace is fair across the board.

5) ‘My rent has gone up; I need a new car and I have a bit on my credit card’

2020 has rocked our stability and left many in financial uncertainty. Whether it is unexpected credit card debt, a rent increase, or a new expense that you have not accounted for, it can be a worrying time.

Whether it is for good or bad, many have felt the financial impact of Covid 19. It can sound very harsh however, it is wise to remember that your personal finances and your salary are somewhat separate.

When requesting a pay rise, do not mentioned your personal finances. An increase in pay reflects your work only. Discuss your future within the workplace, express your desire for more responsibility and voice any ideas that you have formed to acquire new business.

This will ensure that the decision makers are aware that you are committed and that you an increase in salary is warranted.

6) ‘I was speaking to a recruitment agent last week’

We have all engaged in open discussions with recruitment agents with regards to other companies, salaries, and job roles. However, it is best to keep these discussions confidential.

It is easy to forget that recruitment agents have a job to do. Their main purpose is to land you a new role therefore, stating that you have already initiated conversation to your employer will imply that you have already ‘checked out of the company’ and have interviews lined up.

The foundations of every salary increase is loyalty and commitment. If these foundations are crumbled, the likelihood of a pay rise is slim to none.   

7) ‘I have been looking online’

Perhaps surprisingly, I actively encourage employees to check out online vacancies from time to time.

Job specs give insight into the skills and experience that you need to progress in your career and encourage staff to evolve their current skillset. Of course, this also presents co-workers with the opportunity to view the salaries of other companies.

It is worth remembering that although it may state a salary on the job spec, it does not mean that this will be the salary offered if you interview for the role. The salaries within job specs tend to be ballpark figures. An employer will still take your experience into account and can lower the number.

8) ‘I have a new job, but I will stay if I get a rise’

‘Believe it or not, employees still believe it is a good idea to deliver ultimatums to receive a pay rise.

Put simply, don’t do it. Even if you are an asset to a workplace, interviewing for a role and accepting it before discussing prospect with your current employer will just lead to you parting ways.

Also, if you produce such ultimatums, be prepared to leave. Some employees feel that an ultimatum will lead to them getting what they want however, sometimes it can put them in a worse position then when they started.

9) ‘I’m not moaning, but…’

2020 has been a negative year for many. It can be hard to keep positive however, when entering discussions with regards to salary you must remain positive.

A negative stance can be off putting, no matter what your relationship is with management. If your statements can be deemed as moaning, it is easy for the person to get defensive. Stay positive and keep to the facts.

10) ‘We may have lost a few clients but…’

I cannot emphasise this enough, especially in the current climate – before asking for a pay rise, ensure that you hold a basic understanding of the company’s current financial situation.

If you have lost clients, seen redundancies or reduced office space unexpectedly, maybe hold off reassessing your salary. It can be easy to assume that companies have a pit of money and a salary increase will not have much of an impact on their finances however, this is rarely the case. 

Read more tips on getting a pay rise

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Photo by Javier Sierra