Asking for a Raise in a Down Economy

Getting a Grip - Personal workplace advice from Handshake 2.0 Dear Getting a Grip:  I work for a small business that has been affected by the current economic crisis.  I love my job, but we have a new baby and I really need to make more money.  How do I approach the owner to ask for a raise?

Dear Raise:  Before you approach a company owner – or a boss, or a supervisor – for a raise, whether in the midst of an economic downtown or economic upturn, always ask this question first:  “What’s in it for the company?”

From your point of view, you may need, merit, and deserve a raise.  From the company’s point of view, its budget includes you doing what you’re doing at the current rate.  The company has a legitimate question to ask you:  “How will paying you more money make more money for the company?”

That’s why, when you ask for a raise, you’ve got to pitch a project or a role that demonstrates your value and addresses what’s in it for the company.

Be careful of dreaming up projects or roles that will be more work.  Generate ideas that ask you to work in other ways, not more ways.  Play to your strengths, not to your time, so you’ll be working well for your company and be home in time for dinner with your spouse and new baby.

Getting a Grip:  As one of its employees, you’re an expert on your company.  You’re also an expert on your own skills.  From an objective, expert point of view, what could that employee – you – do to make more money for that company?  The answer is your pitch.

Your company’s owner may say no to your request for a raise.  By seeing your own skills in a new way, however, you will have strengthened your understanding of what you can do.  And by sharing your ideas, along with your request for a raise, you’ve demonstrated to the company’s owner that you are of current value, can be of future value, and you think you’re worth it.  The owner may well have that in mind the next time raises are added to the budget.


Need to start “Getting a Grip” on a personal problem at work?  E-mail your question to [email protected].

Getting a Grip, a workplace advice column for Handshake 2.0, is written by Anne Giles Clelland.  Getting a Grip regrets that not all questions can be answered, personal replies are not possible, and questions may be edited for brevity and clarity.


Getting a Grip appears monthly in Valley Business FRONT.

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