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Can you ask for a pay rise during a recession?

Is it possible to get a pay rise during a recession? Find out in today’s blog!

Can you ask for a pay rise during a recession?

Asking for a pay rise during a recession isn’t the same as asking for a pay rise in a booming economy. BUT… it can be done. But before you go bowling into your manager’s office, there’s a few things to consider. Negotiating a higher salary in a shaky economy isn’t always appropriate. So check out our guide to asking for a raise during a recession.

When to do it

There’s a time and a place for asking for a pay rise. If you’re going to ask for a raise in tough times, these are the best times to do it:

During an appraisal

Appraisals are the perfect opportunity to ask for a pay rise. But only when you’ve been a top performer. If your appraisal is full of criticism, this isn’t the best time to ask for a salary increase.

When you’ve completed a project successfully

You always want to ask for a raise when you’re at your best. So waiting until you’ve completed a project or hit a target is wise. These are your high points. It’s when your manager can clearly see the value you bring to the company.

When your manager is in a good mood

The pay rise is down to your manager. So of course, you want to catch him/her in a good mood. If they’re stressed or busy dealing with problems, wait until the storm has passed. 

When not to do it

As we said in the intro, it’s not always appropriate to ask for a pay rise. You want the best conditions when you ask for a raise. But here are some things that could hinder your chances.

When you’re below target

If you’re behind on your targets, this isn’t the best time to ask for a raise… especially in a recession. Times are hard enough as it is. So wait until you’re above your targets.

When the company is failing to hit its targets

Even if you’re performing well, the company might not be. If your company is taking a big hit in the economy, your chances of getting a raise are slim. 

When the company is laying people off

If your company is making redundancies, then now is not the time to seek a pay rise. At this point, you should just keep your head down and focus on doing your job consistently.

Tips for asking for a pay rise during a recession

Compare your pay 

Salaries change during recessions. In booming economies, salaries can skyrocket. But in recessions, things are a little slower. So it’s hard to know if you’re being paid enough. You’ll need to find out what other companies are paying. Use job boards and talk to recruiters. This will help you work out how much of a raise you should ask for (if any at all).

Schedule an appointment

Asking for a raise should never be an off-hand conversation. Pre-book it into your boss’ diary and make sure you’ll have some privacy. 

Show understanding to the current climate

Don’t ignore the recession when asking for your raise. Be sensitive towards the situation and show you’ve put some thought into it. Here are a couple of phrases to help inspire you:

  • “I understand the economic climate isn’t the best, but I’m hoping you’ll see that the value I bring is worth the raise.”
  • “I know the business needs to be frugal with its spending right now, but I’m here to show you why a pay rise would be worth it for the company, even in today’s climate.”

List your achievements in facts and figures

Facts and figures are the strongest way to present yourself for a raise. Don’t use wishy washy arguments like ‘I work really hard.’ Instead, tell them how you’ve performed against your targets. Use as many numbers as possible to demonstrate your value.

Be confident, but not entitled

Be confident in your worth. But remember that your employer doesn’t owe you a raise. So keep your tone polite and respectful.

Don’t make threats

When asking for a raise, never insinuate that you’ll leave if you don’t receive it. This can be very damaging to your business relationship. Your pay rise should be based on your merit, not on your threat to leave.

Be flexible

Although you can tell your employer how much you’d like to receive, be flexible. You may need to lower your expectations. Especially during a recession when budgets are tight.

Have a plan B

Sometimes pay rises aren’t granted…even if you deserve one. During a recession, companies will be less likely to dish out rises. So prepare a plan B. You could ask for a one-off bonus instead or agree to review the situation in 6 months time.

It’s a gamble

Getting a pay rise during a recession IS possible. But it can be harder. So don’t set your expectations too high. It may be best to wait until the economy levels out again. But if done correctly, there’s absolutely no harm in asking!

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