CONSIDER THIS: According to a recent national survey by Salary.com, 59 percent of respondents said they dread salary negotiations. What is behind the reluctance of employees to request a pay raise? Are American employees missing the opportunity to earn a better living or simply ensuring the security of the jobs they currently hold?
The survey reports that 41 percent of respondents said they never negotiate for more money during performance reviews. Only 17 percent of respondents said they always negotiate for more money. When it comes to new job offers, 31 percent of respondents said they always negotiate their salary, and 20 percent said they never negotiate salary during the job interview process.
Why do so many employees choose not to ask for a salary increase? The reasons vary: afraid of losing their job or job offer: 21 percent; it’s unpleasant: 19 percent; lack of negotiating skills: 15 percent; satisfied with original offer: 15 percent; and other: 12 percent
Does asking pay off? According to the study, it does. Only 20 percent of respondents reported they asked but received nothing during their most recent performance review. Twenty two percent received less than requested, 18 percent received the amount requested, and 5 percent actually received more than requested. The bottom line: 45 percent of respondents received a pay increase when they asked.
“The first question employees should ask themselves before entering salary negotiations is whether the company is financially healthy,” says Lynn Athens, vice president of human resources and Collaborative Office Solutions for the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues, the Ontario, CA-based trade association for credit unions in both states. “Can the company afford to give them a raise?”
Athens suggests employees find out where their actual pay falls in the pay range for their position. “Do the research, but be careful of national salary statistics,” she warns. “Many people look at national statistics and think they are underpaid. You need to look at regionalized statistics for your area to get an accurate picture of where you are in the pay range.”
She encourages employees contemplating salary negotiations to conduct a careful self-evaluation first.
“Keep careful records throughout the year. If you receive praise from someone, make a note of it or keep a copy in a file,” she said. “Be ready to provide very specific examples of your accomplishments in the past year. Keep a list of the projects you have worked on, even when you are part of a team, and keep track of the results of those projects.”
Athens also suggests employees consider the total compensation they receive from their company, including paid time off, insurance benefits, reasonable work hours, and more.
“Employees should be open enough to see the big picture,” she added.
Tips for a Successful Salary Negotiations
- Don’t be afraid to ask. You can respectfully open the dialogue without being confrontational.
- Be prepared with specifics. Prove your worth with quantifiable contributions you have made and objectives you have met or exceeded.
- Don’t Focus on Your Personal Need for More Money. From your employer’s perspective, salary negotiations are not about why you need more money. Stick to facts that are relevant to the workplace.
- If they can’t offer more money, consider asking for other incentives. Even if your company cannot raise your salary at present, they may be willing to offer increased vacation time or allow you to work from home once a week.
- Don’t be afraid to give your supervisor time to think about your request.
- If the answer is no, ask some respectful follow-up questions. Find out what you can do differently or what specific goals and performance criteria you need to meet before your next review.