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Asking For a Pay Raise During COVID

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By: Mariah Rogers
Nov 2, 2020 • 6 min read

Asking For a Pay Raise During COVID

There is no doubt, money is tight right now. Many of us have had to re-adjust our work lifestyles and make accommodations to continue working for our current companies during COVID. In a normal setting, these inconveniences would typically be compensated by employers. However, since many companies have had to make unfortunate layoffs and face office closures, it might be difficult to wrap your head around asking for a pay raise. If you feel as though you are performing well and continuously adding more value to company success, you may feel it is time to ask for a boost in salary. Here are a few points you should consider before doing so!

pay raise

What Adjustments Has Your Company Made?

Some companies have been impacted more heavily than others due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now is a great time to evaluate the effect the virus has had on your workplace. Think back to the start of the pandemic in late March. Were you working remotely? Did your office close for good? Was anyone laid off? Or, did business continue as usual while employees adjusted to the “new normal.” If your company has had to make many adjustments just to keep employees working, now is probably not the best time to ask for a pay raise. This is because your establishment is still trying to break even and make a sustainable profit to continue to pay working employees. If your company has had to make many adjustments due to the pandemic, this is a sign that money might be tight.

Signs your company might be struggling:

  • Communication channels about progression have slowed.
  • Layoffs are occurring
  • Establishment locations have closed or been sold.
  • Talk of pay freeze or hiring freeze occurs.
  • The business begins to offer new, differentiated products or services.
  • Your company starts to rebrand itself.

Look Out For Lay Offs

In addition to the points above, looking out for layoffs is another essential tip. Has your workplace continued to keep all employees working? Did your company have to take a break from paying employees during the past 6 months? Take note of what departments seem to be conducting layoffs. If fellow teammates have been recently canned, it’s best to wait a little longer before asking for an increase in compensation.

Look out for:

  • Mass layoffs
  • Pay freeze
  • Hiring freeze

pay raise

Sit Down With Your Employer

If your company has only faced a slight change over the past several months, and you haven’t noticed mass layoffs happening, you should feel comfortable sitting down with your employer to discuss your salary. However, be sure to focus your discussion on your desired progression for the next quarter and highlight the success you have achieved despite COVID adjustments. Below we have listed a few meeting topics you should cover in your 1 on 1 with your employer.

Meeting topics, you should cover:

  • Progression you hope for over the next quarter.
  • How have you contributed to company success during COVID?
  • Reflect on the past 6 months and come prepared with tangible, concrete examples of accomplishments you have made
  • Goals you have made for the next 6 months
  • Asking for feedback from your employer

Consider Settling For Alternative Benefits

It is often forgotten that alternative benefits exist for employees that are separate from direct salaries. This can include time off, commission, flexible work schedule, and more. If your employer does not seem to be budging when it comes to negotiating pay, try to bring up other benefits that can be offered instead. Remember, be patient with your employer, as they are likely facing a lot of COVID stress during this time.

Alternative benefits you can propose: 

  • More vacation days
  • Flexible work schedule/telecommuting
  • Commission benefits
  • Option to change teams

pay raise

Make a Plan For The Future

If you come to realize a pay raise during your meeting with your employer at this time is likely not possible, try to make a future plan. Your employer will see that you are a dedicated and committed employee who plans to stay with the company for a long time, which can boost your likelihood of actually receiving a pay raise. Don’t let your 1 on 1 conversation with your boss become wasted time. Instead, offer to continue the conversation at a later date and show your continued interest in higher compensation.

Tips for making a plan:

  • “Thank you so much for meeting with me. I completely understand that a pay raise at this time is not feasible. Could we reschedule in 3 months to revisit this conversation?”
  • “I appreciate your honesty when it comes to considering me for a pay raise. Perhaps we can negotiate further and consider increased benefits?”
  • “I completely understand where you are coming from on this matter. Would you be able to provide me with some feedback so that I can achieve my goal of earning a pay raise in the near future?”

Know Your Worth

Although many establishments have faced unprecedented challenges during this time, it is still important that you know your worth. Be realistic with yourself! If you have put significant time, effort, and strategy into re-adjusting your lifestyle due to new company protocols, you deserve to be appropriately compensated. Try to research what other companies are paying employees who have a similar position as you, and compare salaries.

Consider opening a new job search if: 

  • You have faced significant incontinence due to new company protocols.
  • Facing the risk of getting sick at work and not being given crisis pay.
  • You have not been provided with the materials you need to do your job successfully at home.
  • When you are at work, you are performing tasks that are not in your job description.

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