Addressing management issues

Edited by Christopher S. Frings PhD, CSP

Asking for a raise

How should I go about asking
for a salary increase? We have not had one in 18 months, and I do not think this is fair.

Most people believe that they
should be paid more! One of the best ways to increase compensation is to demonstrate you can do more than the job requires. Adding duties is one way of justifying a pay increase.

Larry Crolla recommends, If you want a raise, ask for it! People do not typically volunteer money. Have ready all of your performance improvements and possible salary histories in nearby institutions, in case questions arise. Do not whine about it or beat around the bush. This is a business issue. Treat it as such. State the fact that you have not had a raise for 18 months. Your question also brings up another issue: Is
not getting a raise unfair? It would only be unfair if everyone else got a raise and you did not if your work performance was on a par with theirs. There is no law or rule that says anyone has to give raises. Employers only do that to keep their employees. Maybe this is a signal or maybe the institution is financially strapped or as I stated before no one likes to voluntarily give away their money.

Alton Sturtevant points out, In preparation for your discussion, you should gather information relating to comparable rates in your area. This information should be available through professional associations. You should also ask your human resource department for pay scales for your job to determine where you fit (for example, first quartile). This will allow you to know if you are being paid appropriately for your training and experience. You should ask for a performance evaluation to determine how management perceives your job performance. At that time, you should discuss your salary level and your concern relating to no increase during the last 18 months. If salary increases are frozen by the company, then your choice is to stay and wait for a raise, or look for another job.

According to Marti Bailey, Since most healthcare facilities are not raking in the dollars, the expectation of consistent annual raises becomes less realistic. You need to understand your facilitys past performance in awarding raises, its current fiscal state and also what type of plan is generally used when raises are awarded. If the program in the past included all employees in the salary-increase process (rather than being department-specific or individually awarded), then you will be hard-pressed to make any headway until your facility is ready to gear up the program again. On the other hand, if you know that others in your facility have received raises, but you and your immediate coworkers have not, you might have a better chance of success.

One thing you definitely want to consider is your benefits package. If there has not been a decrease in your benefits or an increase of shared costs, such as health insurance on the employees part, consider yourself fortunate. I have seen cases of an increase in employee cost for health insurance that has ostensibly cancelled out a concomitant salary increase.

Ms. Bailey adds, I recommend that you have an open and honest conversation with your boss about your salary concerns. Hopefully, the result of this will be a clearer understanding for you of what your chances are of seeing a raise in the near future. But remember that longevity is not an entitlement to a raise. I am certain there are plenty of businesses that have not increased employee salaries over the past year. It would be fiscally unsound to raise salaries when profits have dropped and that has been the case for a lot of businesses. Depending on the outcome of your conversation with your boss, you may want to check if there are other jobs in or out of your area that you feel have a more equitable salary scale. It has been shown that it pays an employee to move around to new jobs. Employees who stay at one job for more than a few years and do not get promoted tend to see their salaries stagnate. At this point, they are likely to be hired into a new job at a higher salary than they are making at their current job.

Bottom line. When asking for an increase in salary compensation, make certain to justify the increase in one or more ways. Examples include:

  • Show you are getting less than you should according to your companys salary scale.
  • Prove that your position is paid more at other laboratories in your area.
  • Demonstrate how you are worth more by offering to increase your responsibilities and duties.

Remember that longevity is not entitlement to a raise and that your benefits package is part of your total compensation.

Christopher S. Frings is an internationally known consultant and speaker on the topics of leadership, managing change, time management, reaching goals, and stress management. His consulting firm, Chris Frings & Associates, is in Birmingham, AL.

August 2003: Vol. 35, No. 8

© 2003 Nelson Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved.