With the looming uncertainty of Brexit, government austerity at full throttle and rising inflation, whether you work in the private or public sector, wages in the UK are stagnating. According to analysis by the TUC, UK ‘real wages’ (pay adjusted for the effects of inflation) were predicted to fall by 0.5% between the start of 2016 and the close of 2018.
But before we all get seriously down in the dumps, pack our bags and migrate to Canada, there is hope. It’s still possible to increase your pay packet in 2018 - you just have to have a few tricks up your sleeve.
Here are 5 tips to help you get a pay rise in the New Year…
Ask the question
‘Shy bairns get nowt’, as they say up North. As obvious as it sounds, you need to ask the question in order to stand a chance of actually getting a pay rise. But before you blindside your boss on a wet Wednesday morning, take a moment to think about how and when to ask.
Timing is important. Asking for a raise at a time when decision makers are busy or implementing changes is unlikely to get a positive reaction. Larger companies often have a set time for pay reviews, which is probably the most appropriate moment to request a rise. Alternatively, asking for a pay review as part of a performance review can also be an effective way to ensure your request is heard - especially if you’ve met targets and achieved goals.
Also crucial is knowing what you want. Researching the market value of your role and skills will give you a clearer idea of what you can reasonably expect from your employer. Knowing what competitors in your industry are paying will strengthen your case and show that you’ve done your homework. An easy way to do this is by asking friends or colleagues in similar roles about their pay, and by using sites like www.payscale.com which can give you a figure to aim for, based on your experience and skillset.
Before you ask, consider why you deserve a pay rise - if you don’t know, why should your boss? Giving specific examples that demonstrate your skills, how you’ve helped the company progress and your ability to work well with others in a team will increase the chances of a positive outcome.
Increase your value by upskilling
When you’re selling a house, you give it a lick of paint, upgrade a few fixtures and fittings, and voila! - you’ve added £10k to the value. So it goes with your career. Adding another string to your bow (provided it’s relevant) increases your value as an employee, and should go some way to securing a pay rise or promotion. Offering your employer better value for money will make it more difficult for them to say ‘no’.
Research from e-commerce marketplace, Groupon, found that 30% of UK workers boosted their credentials by taking extra training and gaining qualifications over the past 5 years. Over 50% have used their new skills to earn extra income and 17% have received a pay rise or promotion.
Whether learning a new language or sharpening up your admin skills, developing new areas of strength not only boosts your pay packet but can also enhance your overall career path. Taking responsibility for your own learning and development shows initiative and determination, making you more attractive to both present and future employers. A 2016 survey by the Pew Research Centre found that 87% of workers thought upskilling and training was essential in order to keep up with changes in the workplace.
Get a new job
If you can’t get the pay rise you deserve at your existing job, you might be banging your head against the proverbial brick wall. Read the signs and judge whether 2018 might be the time to make a fresh start.
Refusal to pay you the market rate may be a sign that your employer doesn’t value your ability and is taking you for granted. This can be demoralising - especially if you’ve worked hard to prove your worth and you know that competitors are paying more. But tread carefully before you give an ultimatum - if you threaten to leave, you should be willing to translate that into action.
And have no fear. Today’s job market is tipped firmly in favour of employees. According to current figures from the Office for National Statistics, UK employers have near record numbers of job vacancies to fill (around 780,000).
With fewer people applying for roles and a shortage of requisite skills, the weight of power between employers and employees is shifting. Many sectors including IT, engineering and accounting are struggling to find suitable candidates for roles, so if you’re thinking of moving jobs, you’re likely to have more bargaining chips than in previous years.
A poll on job exodus trends by Investors in People, found that 59% of UK staff were considering looking for a new job in 2017, with 51% citing pay as the reason. These figures combined with the current shortage of skills, sends a clear warning to employers: unless you’re willing to address concerns such as pay, you run the risk of losing valuable, and potentially irreplaceable employees.
Improve your personal brand
How do people describe you? What do they say about you when you’re not there? Whatever it is, that’s your personal brand. While it may seem that this is subjective and therefore out of your control, this isn’t the case. You have the power to cultivate a brand that accurately represents how you want to be perceived - one which will help you achieve your goal of getting a pay rise.
Consider where your strengths lie. Think about the attributes and personality traits you possess that are beneficial in terms of work. What are you passionate about? What excites you? And what do you enjoy about your job? Answering these questions will help you define your brand message or statement - which should be concise and clear. In the same way brands define their USPs, you need to determine what sets you apart from the crowd, and use it to strengthen your case.
Working on your personal brand can give you greater self-awareness, which in turn makes it easier to convince your employer of your value and why you deserve that raise. And think about the future. Defining your USP or personal brand will give you focus and help you achieve your long-term career goals.
Ask for perks, not pay
If you’ve tried everything you can think of to get more money but the answer’s still no, it’s worth considering what else you need. Although your boss may want to reward your efforts, their hands may be tied when it comes to budgets - but there are other benefits that can lead to a healthier work-life balance, better productivity, and ultimately, a happier you.
The good news is, there are more perks to ponder than you might think. Like flexible working.
According to a study by Powwownow’s Smarter Working Hub, 30% of people would choose flexible working over a pay rise and 45% of people spend over an hour a day commuting. Perhaps you’d like to start earlier and finish earlier so you have more free time to pursue your passions. Or work from home one day a week to save time and take a break from the stress of commuting.
And just because you can’t get the raise that goes with it, it doesn’t mean you can’t get a promotion. Being given a more senior title can have a positive effect on your future career advancement, and is likely to lead to your next role being better paid. Likewise, asking for learning and development opportunities instead of a pay increase can boost your credentials and benefit your long-term career journey.
Again, the key to getting what you want is clarity of thought and purpose. Make sure you know exactly what you want and why you want it before you make your case.
With economic uncertainty in the air and figures from the National Office for Statistics showing that real wages have plateaued, you may think there’s no point in even asking for a raise. The truth is, providing you approach it strategically, there’s every chance you’ll get what you want.
But if the answer is no right now, it’s important not to feel defeated. Your employer may want to give you a pay rise but simply not be in a position to. Or it might just give you the nudge you need to get another job. Whatever the outcome, it’s important to think of the long game and where you want to be in a year’s time.