How To Ask For a Pay Rise

“Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds nought and six, result misery.”

Charles Dickens – David Copperfield

I’d be very surprised if many of you reading this are a registered charity or domiciled in the Cayman Islands ; most of us are reliant upon our monthly pay cheque to meet the bills! If you are in paid employment then the level of your remuneration is extremely important to you but how many of us can say that we are paid exactly what we are worth? The FM industry has seen a growing appreciation of its worth in terms of salary over the last few years and now offers vastly more opportunity to improve your financial reward in terms of career progression. But what if you are in a job that you enjoy and you feel your contribution, while making a difference to the company, appears to be undervalued? How can you put the case for an increase in salary without seeming to be greedy or unreasonable?

1. Remember that there are two viewpoints in salary negotiations – what is the value of the role (employer’s perspective) and what is your value as an individual (employee’s perspective). Salary levels are governed by market forces, particularly the cost of replacing an employee, and the contribution made by the employee to the success of the company. Understanding this principle will enable you to approach salary negotiations with more confidence. If you can demonstrate a tangible contribution in terms of increased sales or reduced expenditure, your argument is on a much firmer footing.

2. Research your worth – what are other people in similar positions with similar responsibilities commanding in terms of salary and benefits? There are now a number of sources for comparison within the FM industry that you can refer to, including job adverts and salary surveys, which will provide useful ammunition especially in times of low inflation. You may choose to wait for the annual salary review to present your case so make sure you are aware of the company’s financial position and prospects.

3. Ask for a meeting – be prepared to couple discussion on remuneration with a review of responsibilities. Justifying a salary increase usually comes at a price, so ask about the company’s view on performance related pay and bonuses. It may also be that other opportunities exist within the company that will enable you to improve your package. Be sure to approach this meeting as a discussion not a demand as, in a lot of cases, the person you are talking to will have to take your request further up the chain. Always be positive and constructive and try to make their task as easy as possible.

4. Consider the benefits option – is salary the only factor? It may well be that your salary compares favourably to similar positions in other organisations and your argument for an increase is weakened. Ask what else the company offers by way of benefits that would improve the worth of your package – additional holiday entitlement, bonuses, health care, car allowance, improved pension contribution – all of these can prove to be an attractive alternative to a straight pay rise and it will depend on what is important to you, given your own circumstances.

5. Look at the alternatives – if you’ve prepared and stated your case objectively and professionally but your employer cannot agree a way for you to achieve an improvement in package, then you must consider that they do not value the position at the same level as you value your own worth. In this case it will be necessary for you to look outside the organisation to fulfil your expectations (which is a whole different subject!) However, don’t be surprised if your resignation prompts an improved offer of salary or promotion – some companies will wait till this stage until they realise the actual cost of replacing you! Do not dismiss an improved offer out of hand, just for the sake of pride – after all, you may enjoy the environment, the job and the people you work with.

Asking for a pay rise usually doesn’t feature in most company training programmes and most employees are left to fend for themselves which can lead to stressful situations. The key is to plan your strategy and retain control – feeling undervalued, without having evidence that you are, is simply a feeling. The onus is on you to prove it rather than on the company to disprove it. Management techniques for handling pay rise requests vary dramatically, so if you want a measured response then you need put yourself in your manager’s shoes. Is your approach based on fact rather than feeling, is it strong enough to merit serious consideration? What are the alternatives open to you, whether this approach succeeds or not? Be very wary of playing the resignation card without another job offer in your pocket!

Employers that fail to recognise, develop and reward good employees leave themselves wide open to high staff turnover and the disruption that this brings to their business. If the employee accepts their situation, then the organisation generally sees no need to review their approach and the inertia continues. Development and reward are crucial to any company’s progress and in the nascent world of FM, where the skills, experience and knowledge of its practitioners are vital to success, the employee is now the dominant market force.


1. Prepare your case and be aware of the employer’s perspective
2. Look for evidence of salaries for similar roles in the same geographical area
3. Quantify the contribution you have made to the success of the company
4. Ask for a face to face meeting to discuss responsibilities and remuneration
5. Present a factual, researched argument
6. Consider the trade-off of increased responsibilities for more pay
7. Consider increased benefits related to performance
8. Remain professional and in control – no knee-jerk reactions to rejection

(Acknowledgement: Alan Campbell)

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