Expert Opinion: Empowering employees to ask for a rise

Expert Opinion: Empowering employees to ask for a rise

Wages have become a hot topic of late. From the UK pay squeeze to the gender pay gap, what people are paid has been firmly thrust into the spotlight.

Wages have become a hot topic of late. From the UK pay squeeze to the gender pay gap, what people are paid has been firmly thrust into the spotlight. Yet, asking for a pay rise continues to be a nerve-wracking prospect for many employees.

Unsurprisingly, the biggest question to fill employees with dread is: “Can I have a pay rise?” (63.6%), followed by: “Can I have a promotion?” (34.6%). When it comes to talking about money, these figures show it’s about as popular as a trip to the dentist or cleaning the gutters. But these figures also show just how important it is for employers to create a workplace that encourages honest and open conversations.

Research has revealed that as many as one in four workers is afraid to ask difficult questions, with this figure shooting up to nearly a third among millennials. So – how can employees get the raise they deserve?

We caught up with Nicola Britovsek, HR Director at Sodexo Engage to discover the secrets to getting wage increases right for employer and employee.

 

  1. You need an open culture

“The truth is, if employees feel squeamish about talking about their salary, it could be down to the culture of the business. They might be worried that asking for a rise could count against them – or even cost them their job. Feeling this way isn’t only a problem for pay, but overall job satisfaction.

Employees need to see their manager as approachable and trustworthy. It pays for employees to be at ease.

Employees need to see their manager as approachable and trustworthy. It pays for employees to be at ease; half of workers said they didn’t mind asking difficult questions once they felt more comfortable with their boss. If employees can’t voice their needs or concerns, they might start to feel frustrated. This is where companies risk losing great people – they could decide to job-hop in the hunt for more money or recognition.

 

Business leaders need to get to the root of the problem. They need to build a culture that encourages staff to talk freely with their manager if they feel they’re being underpaid. Salary should be something that can be discussed openly, with easy channels of communication and expectations set from the get-go.

 

2. Hold regular meetings to keep reality top of mind

 

It doesn’t matter if it’s the smallest start-up or the biggest of corporate beasts, checking how staff are getting on is key. Managers should be having regular conversations with their team about performance and any issues they might have, rather than save it for a yearly review.

While most employees would love to add an extra zero to their pay slip, the reality can be pretty different to fantasy.

The more hands-on a manager is, the more likely an employee is to open up about their role, their responsibilities and importantly – whether they’re feeling valued. While most employees would love to add an extra zero to their pay slip, the reality can be pretty different to fantasy.

 

Having regular performance meetings not only gives employees a chance to voice their expectations, but gives managers the chance to talk about ways to help them progress and with it, bump up their salary. Employers don’t want to have to hassle employers for more money and managers don’t want to be caught off guard. Regular catch ups will help employees understand how appraisals work, how they’re connected to salaries and what they need to do to get to the next rung on the pay ladder.

 

What’s more, building strong working relationships with staff is not just about money. An open and supportive workplace boosts morale and happiness levels. Our research showed that job satisfaction trumps money when it comes to what’s most important to employees, so building a culture of mutual respect and understanding is a win-win all round.

 

Fill the gap with non financial perks if required

 

If an employer can’t give a pay rise, it’s vital that they’re clear on why and what the next steps are. When someone asks for more money, they often do so because they feel they’re under-valued or think their hard work has gone unnoticed.

If it isn’t possible to fork out more cash, employers need to ask themselves if there’s anything else they can do

If someone has been doing a great job, improving and progressing, then a boss should recognise that. But if it isn’t possible to fork out more cash, employers need to ask themselves if there’s anything else they can do to show their appreciation for that person.

 

Non-financial perks like praising that person privately or publicly can go a long way in making someone feel valued. On the spot incentives, like dinner out for two, theatre tickets or a gift voucher if they’re partial to a spot of retail therapy is a great way to treat people without upping their wage.

 

Rewards are a brilliant way to say a personal “thank you”, so tailoring those to the individual is a really clever way of making individuals not only feel special, but more inspired and motivated going forward.”

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