How and When To Ask For That Raise

By Erika Engle
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Q&A With Ludvig Simonsen, Regional human resources manager, Pacific region, Mandara Spa

Question: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella came under fire last year for discouraging women from asking for raises, encouraging them instead to have “faith that the system will actually give you the right raises as you go along.” He then distanced himself from the comment, explaining that he had been “inarticulate.” Whether you are a woman or a man, what is the best way to ask for a pay raise?

Answer: The reality remains that pay raises are hard to come by, regardless of a person’s gender. Although economic conditions have improved on a global scale since the recession of 2008 to 2009, employers continue to be conservative with regard to financial compensation.

Before even approaching the subject of a base pay increase, I would encourage the individual to take stock of their total compensation package. Employees may overlook many aspects of their compensation which are forgotten about because these benefits are not seen in direct dollars on the paycheck. For example, does your employer pay a portion of family medical coverage, have matching 401(k) contributions or pay the cost of your parking?

Most people feel that they should be paid more than what they actually earn, but in order to effectively negotiate an increase in your base pay, you definitely must do research, understand the criteria of the company’s decision makers and take into account the timing of your request. If you simply state, “I deserve a raise,” you are not going to be effective. Employers hear this quite frequently. Also, depending on the nature of your position, there may be little flexibility in how an employer determines wages for each individual employee.

In a collective bargaining situation, wages may be set for a specific position. Alternatively, the employer may have a fixed wage for the specific position and cannot arbitrarily increase a pay rate for one employee while not adjusting the rates of pay for others.

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