How to ask for pay raise at work and get it

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Remember that famous dialogue Paul Rudd voiced in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, “We accept the love we think we deserve.” Well, surprisingly, this also stands true for receiving fair compensation at work.

You’re sitting outside the conference room, waiting your turn for the appraisal meeting with your boss. On the outside, you may be the perfect picture of composure. But, on the inside, your shirt is soaked with sweat and if one were to dive into the depths of your mind at the moment, they would drown in the chaos of: “What should I tell them? Do I even deserve a raise? Have I really worked hard all this year?”

Negotiating a raise can feel like a daunting task, leaving many individuals unsure of how to approach the conversation with their manager. However, securing fair compensation is an essential part of career development and financial well-being.

LinkedIn’s Workforce Confidence Index reveals that 67 per cent of professionals in India anticipate a pay raise in the next six months, with Gen Z professionals leading the charge at 76 per cent. According to the ‘Promoting Women for Better Work report from Indeed, a leading global matching and hiring platform, India has the highest percentage of women who have asked for a raise (65%) compared to any other country.

But many things stand in the way of asking — or rather, receiving that raise. Remember that famous dialogue Paul Rudd voiced in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, “We accept the love we think we deserve.” Well, surprisingly, this also stands true for receiving fair compensation at work. Suhani Sharma, 22, a social media manager, has a hard time believing she deserves a raise because her mind thinks, “This is literally your job.”

For Sonia Jakhwal, 29, even though she might be aware that her contributions are worth recognising, she has a fear of how it would be perceived by her superiors at work. “As I get compliments and recognition for my job, in my mind, what remains is the worry: to ask for a raise may lead to negligence or maybe even to ignorance,” said the PR professional.

Chirag Virmani, 26, an IT professional, has not had much help from his superiors or colleagues when planning to negotiate a raise. But he knows he deserves a raise for his hard work.

Out of all the people contacted for this story, most women reported feeling like they did not deserve a salary hike. And if they did, they did not know how to ask for it.

Sheetal Kumari, 21, a PR professional, felt that her compensation was not commensurate with the value she was bringing to the table, but “it was challenging to articulate this imbalance, despite shouldering a significant workload.”

Research reveals a potential barrier to women achieving fair compensation: the hesitation to negotiate. Books like Women Don’t Ask by Linda Babcock, along with studies, highlight this reluctance. For example, the book quoted a survey of Master’s students that found that women were more likely to accept the initial job offer compared to men, who were eight times more likely to negotiate.

However, the narrative does not end there. While women may be hesitant to initiate salary negotiations, the outcome is not solely in their hands. A 2017 study (“Do Women Ask?”) by researchers at Cass Business School, University of Wisconsin, and University of Warwick, surprisingly found that women actually ask for raises as often as men. However, the study, encompassing over 4,600 Australian workers, revealed a crucial disparity: women are more likely to be denied their requests compared to men.

This is further proved by Indeed’s report from 2024. According to the report, over half of the women who requested a raise globally received less than they had hoped for, with 56% of Indian women who sought raises receiving less than expected. This is extremely telling, especially since India recorded 65% women ask for a raise, so only 8% seem to be getting the compensation they think they deserve.

In situations like these, working under a boss who recognises your talent and hard work pays off. Such is the case with senior PR executive Kritika Oberoi, who says her manager makes her and her work “feel appreciated” and “knows well the importance of monetary motivation and never shies away from giving us that.”

But what do you do when your manager may not be wont to recognise your contributions at the workplace? Especially as the average salary hike for 2024 is predicted to slightly dip, according to Aon, a leading professional services firm. It projects an average increase of 9.5 per cent, down from 9.7 per cent in 2023.

Worry not, for we are here to help with our guide to asking for a salary hike at work.

Tips on how to negotiate a salary hike

Discussing your salary can be a nerve-wracking experience, but with proper preparation and a strategic approach, you can confidently advocate for your worth and secure a well-deserved raise. Here, we offer insights from industry professionals to guide you through this crucial conversation.

1. Preparation is Key

Gather Evidence: Do your research, Nirajita Banerjee, a career expert at LinkedIn India, suggested. Look into industry salary benchmarks for your specific role and location. This equips you with data-driven insights for the discussion.

Quantify Your Achievements: Siva Prasad Nanduri, CEO of DTL (Diensten Tech Limited), emphasised the importance of highlighting contributions. Document specific achievements, focusing on measurable results and contributions that benefit the organisation.

2. Framing the Conversation

Schedule a Meeting: Murali S, a senior HR professional with 26 years of experience in the industry who’s currently CHRO at AscentHR, advised against initiating the conversation abruptly. Instead, schedule a dedicated meeting to ensure dedicated time and attention from your manager. “Seek feedback periodically. Ask what you should do to grow and understand areas that need attention from self.”

Focus on Value: Nimisha Dua, Chief Human Resources Officer of Grip Invest, encouraged focusing beyond just the salary. Showcase your overall value to the organisation, discussing contributions and future goals.

Maintain a Professional Demeanour: Banerjee stressed the importance of professionalism. Approach the conversation with a calm and respectful tone, actively listening to feedback and focusing on solutions.

3. Delivering Your Message

Open with Confidence: Dua emphasised the importance of entering the conversation with an open mind and a respectful tone. Start by providing a broad overview of your contributions, followed by specific examples to strengthen your case.

Be Prepared to Negotiate: Nanduri reminded us that negotiation is part of the process. Have a clear understanding of your desired salary range and be open to reaching a mutually beneficial agreement with your manager.

4. Beyond the Raise

Seek Feedback: Murali S recommended viewing the discussion as an opportunity for broader feedback and growth. Be open to constructive criticism and engage in a conversation centred on improvement.

Long-Term Perspective: Dua encouraged viewing these discussions as opportunities for career development. Utilise the feedback and insights to enhance your skills and chart a successful path forward.

By following these tips and seeking guidance from the valuable insights of industry professionals, you can approach your salary discussion with confidence and successfully advocate for the compensation you deserve. Remember, preparation and professionalism are key to navigating this crucial conversation and securing a brighter future in your career.

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