Over the last few years, the cost of living of the average Nigerian has been rising astronomically. We have to spend double to buy the same things we were getting a few years back. So, we need to make more to afford the same things. If you are a salary earner, the first point of call is to ask your employer for a pay raise. How can you go about doing this?
Find out the pay scale for your role or someone with your skillset. Look at platforms like Glassdoor and LinkedIn to get insight on this. You can also speak to colleagues either within or outside your current place of work or recruiters who have access to this data to get info on the pay scale. Before negotiating your pay, you need to find out if you’re underpaid or currently making the highest amount possible for your skillset, so first find out the market value of your skillset.
What is your value add?
What additional value do you bring to your employer? You need evidence of what you’ve done so far. Be as specific as you can. It would be helpful if you can go in with numbers. E.g., as a salesperson, you can say you have the highest conversion rates, you’ve brought in x number of customers, or if you’re working in social media, talk about how much you’ve increased engagement or how you’ve exceeded your KPIs.
Your value add shows what is in it for the company— why they should pay you more. You can also highlight new skills and responsibilities you can add to the organization and how much value that can bring to the business. Be careful not to threaten to leave. This can make your employer look into replacing you or unwilling to consider you for great opportunities within the firm in the future.
What is the internal process to request a pay rise?
Some larger organizations have regular pay reviews at specific points in the year; find out if your company has this, the requirements, what you need to prepare for the conversation, etc. These discussions typically happen with appraisals and are less structured for smaller companies. You need to find out the internal process to get a pay rise in your company.
How is the company doing? You don’t want to ask for a raise right after the company made a huge loss. Look for a great opportunity, e.g., when the company just made mega-profits or is getting excellent press. While you find the best chance to reach out, spend the time building your case, and if it seems like there may not be an opportunity to have this conversation, you might want to consider looking for jobs elsewhere.
When you’ve found the right time and the right person, reach out to them and book a time that works best for them for a face-to-face meeting. Let them know beforehand what the agenda for the meeting is, so they’re not surprised. Remember, their mood can influence their response, so it’s ideal for you to catch them on a good day.
Practice your pitch
Practice delivering your pitch as much as you can, in the shower, with friends, or with a coach. Prepare for questions. Companies are profit-making businesses that only want to spend more money if they can see how it can make them more money. Be ready to show how paying you more is beneficial to the company.
Some Pitfalls to Avoid
When negotiating, don’t say “I deserve to get paid higher” or “I deserve a raise because I’ve been here for x time” also, don’t share your worries. Instead, show the value you bring to the company either in your results or skills and talk about the market value of those skills or results. You need to persuade your employer to give the pay raise, not guilt them.
Don’t just say that because the cost of living is rising, your employer should raise your pay.
Some employers can be understanding, and they can listen to this but it is important to know that your salary is a reward given in exchange for the skills and the value you add and not necessarily to take care of your expenses. As such, it’s easier to negotiate based on the value you bring than the personal costs you incur. Your employer might respond to this statement saying, “but everyone is suffering the same rising cost of living, even the company, so why do you, in particular, deserve a raise? Should they raise the pay for everyone in the firm then? How does that affect the profitability of the company?”
Possible responses and how to respond to them
You need to go into the conversation with the mindset that they can say no. It’s a negotiation, not a demand. If they say no, you need to understand why.
If the reason is that the organization is not currently in the financial position to pay you more, you can decide if you want to move elsewhere or stick around till the company is in a better financial position. You can also ask if they can offer something nonfinancial like share incentives, more paid time off, an official car, reduced work hours, or a one-off bonus.
If your request was turned down because your boss/employer does not feel you’ve done enough to merit an increase, you can either ask for specific targets that you need to hit and work towards delivering on those so you can earn the pay rise or if you can get higher pay for the same level of skills you have elsewhere, you can look into that.
In some organizations like those in the public sector or academia, your pay scale is tied to your time in the role first before considering how your skills have improved. In those instances, you can look at the non-pay-related elements of the total benefits package. Can you take on more responsibility or take on more projects that give you visibility? Can the company sponsor training, conferences, etc., or flexible working if that’s not already offered to sweeten the deal for you and improve the potential value you can bring to the organization?
“I’ll think about it”
Ask if you can schedule a follow-up meeting to discuss. This will help set expectations for when they will get back to you with a response, so you don’t have to worry about bothering them. Also, let them know that you are happy to answer follow-up questions and provide more information to help them decide.
“If we give you a pay raise, we’ll have to give everyone else”
Politely say, “oh, that’s interesting”, then find a way to go back to highlighting the value you bring to the company. Try not to compare yourself to other employees but emphasize what you offer.
“It’s not my decision”
Ask whose decision it is so you can present this information to them.
What if they come back with an offer that is higher than your current pay but lower than your proposal
You don’t want to say I will only be happy with x amount; instead, say “I would like to settle on something that works for both me and the company”.
Don’t forget to end the conversation by showing gratitude and sending a follow-up email thanking them for taking the time to discuss with you.
If you decide to walk away
Remember that your salary is just one part of your compensation package. Your salary, health insurance, share incentives, pension packages, paid time off, an official car, work hours, reimbursements, etc., all make up your total compensation from working at a company. Whatever alternative you look at, be sure to compare your full pay package to what you will be getting at your new place. Good luck!
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