Discussing Pay Increases

By Victoria Vilas / 17 Sep 2019

Operations and marketing manager Victoria Vilas shares advice for both employers and employees when handling requests for a salary increase

Asking for a salary increase can be a nerve-wracking moment for an employee, so it is important to take the time to plan a professional approach and consider how to deal with the outcome. Being a fair and benevolent employer isn’t easy either, as you have the responsibility of managing clinic budgets while at the same time trying to incentivise your team. This practical guide includes tips for both employees and employers who are dealing with a request for a pay rise.

For the employee

As an employee, you may reach a stage in your career where you have developed your skill and increased your level of responsibility to the point where you feel you are worth a higher rate of pay. If you’ve exceeded your targets, you’ve proved yourself to be a fantastic team player, and you’ve worked hard to ensure all patients leave the clinic delighted, then the time may be right to discuss your earnings.

Reasons you could ask for a pay rise

In the UK, there is no legal requirement for employers to give their employees an annual pay rise in line with inflation, unless an employee is paid the national minimum wage or national living wage and the government announces an increase.1 Some employee contracts may state that pay will be reviewed annually, but your employer may review your pay and conclude that it will remain the same. So, don’t simply demand a pay rise because you think you are due one as each year passes. Instead, put together a case explaining how you are now worth more to the clinic business due to your increased responsibility, your unrivalled contributions or your level of expertise and seniority in the team.

The reasons you use to support your request should be entirely work-related. The management of your own personal finances is your responsibility, not your employer’s; you may have high rent or a mortgage to pay, or simply wish to live a certain lifestyle, but these are personal issues, not reasons that make you worthy of receiving a higher salary from an employer, or more worthy of a pay rise than a colleague.

Performance that exceeds expectations, increased responsibility, and valuable contributions to the company and team are the reasons you should be using. It is reasonable to ask for a salary review if you can demonstrate that you have gone above and beyond your original job specification, but if you have simply done what is expected of you, you may need to manage your expectations.

Understand what you’re worth

Before you ask for a higher salary, try to understand your current value. To get an idea of the salaries currently available to someone of your level of skill and experience, search online for adverts for jobs similar to your own, and note down the range of salaries offered.

When researching current vacancies, remember to narrow down your search to your location as pay rates can vary around the country and it won’t be an accurate assessment if you compare salaries in a small town to those in a major city.

It is not illegal to discuss your pay with your co-workers, but it isn’t fair to push your colleagues to disclose information they may wish to keep confidential. When considering your reasons for a pay rise you should refer to your remit only. It isn’t advisable to ask for more money based on someone else’s salary; it is best to request a raise based on your own contributions to the clinic business.

If you ask for a salary increase that is above the expected pay bracket for comparable roles in the industry, your request may not be taken seriously. Try and understand the limit to what you can ask for, and what may look reasonable. When deciding on the salary you will request, consider that asking for a figure that is 5-10% higher than your current salary may be far more acceptable than asking for a 20% increase.

Be proactive

Try to back up your request for a salary increase with facts and figures. It’s a wise idea to support your request with evidence that you have exceeded expectations, or that you have taken on duties outside of your original remit. Or perhaps evidence that your current remuneration is lower than the industry average for an employee at your level of experience. Prepare a concise summary of your achievements for your manager.

Think of how you have contributed to the clinic business. Explain how you have been integral and how you as an individual have contributed to the clinic’s success. Describe any extra duties you have taken on, either officially or unofficially. Note down the dates and figures that show you have consistently met or exceeded your targets and received excellent feedback from patients. Don’t be afraid to sing your own praises, just stick to the facts when you do so and don’t make any claims you can’t back up.

Do capture the main points of your request in writing, to record what was discussed, but arrange a meeting to discuss your proposal in person with your manager, as you can then expand on your points during conversation. After you’ve spent time putting forward your argument, allow your manager the time to consider it, too. Don’t expect your manager to give you an answer on the spot, as they may need to consider some performance statistics or discuss your request with other members of management first.

Be prepared for the outcome

If your employer turns down your request for a salary increase, ask for a review date, and ask what you can do to work towards a pay increase. Be ready and willing to take on new challenges and tasks that could lead to a promotion. Don’t be dejected and let the news affect your performance, keep your head held high and continue to demonstrate that you are a valuable part of the clinic team.

Your employer will respect your professionalism, and this is likely to reflect on you favourably when you meet for your next salary review. If you truly feel that your employer is being unreasonable, then you may have to consider moving on. Repurpose the evidence of your achievements you used for your pay rise proposal and add them to your CV to help you stand out from the crowd when you apply for another job.

Table 1: Examples of salary increase discussions

For the employers

Whether you can or cannot consider awarding a salary increase, you should deal with an employee’s request fairly, taking the time to consider their argument and your response, and to explain your decision. Discussing potential pay increases in a clear and fair way will help demonstrate that you are a considerate employer, and good communication with your employees should help keep morale high.

Do your own research

If you haven’t done any recent market research into salaries being offered by other clinics, don’t simply assume that your employee packages are fair. It is good practice to check market rates for clinic staff on a regular basis, so you can be sure you are staying competitive, and can attract and retain the best aesthetic professionals. Retaining your best staff members is essential to your business, so take care not to lose your valuable team members to a clinic offering better rates of pay.

Review your employee packages on a regular basis and ensure you stay in line with the industry, increasing pay for employees where appropriate.

Consider your employee’s proposal carefully

Consider that your employee may highlight achievements that have gone unrewarded. If you are not fully informed of an employee’s progress or achievements, do consult with managers who may have more of an insight.

If your team member’s proposal contains a good argument for a pay rise, take the time to consider what increase would be fair, considering the team as a whole. For example, is this the only team member who has exceeded their targets or progressed to a more senior position? Should you be rewarding more than one employee given the reasons put in front of you? Check what your annual budget allows for and think of the remuneration of every member of the team before deciding on what you can commit to.

Don’t make empty promises

Did you agree to review an employee’s salary at a given date? If so, make sure you remember to hold that pay review meeting, or you could lose the trust of your employees if they feel you do not deliver on your promises. Did you agree to give an employee a salary increase if they took on a particular duty or achieve certain targets? Make sure you reward them as promised when they deserve it, don’t wait for them to ask. If you make promises you can’t keep, you may start to lose loyal team members.

If you are happy to agree to a pay review or increase at a later date, but want to cover yourself for all eventualities, state in documented form that your agreements may be subject to change, depending on the needs of the business. You will then be able to change your agreement if you have a less profitable year and need to revise your budgets, for example.

Record the main points of discussion from every meeting you have with an employee and make two copies so there is one for you to keep on file and one to give your employee. If you both hold a copy of the meeting notes, there will be no confusion over what was previously agreed, and less of a chance for either side to renege on the agreement.

Communicate your decision

Whether you can or cannot approve a pay rise for an employee, explain your decision to your team member so they can understand your reasoning. If you are offering a salary increase, tell your employee the specific things they have done that has made them worthy of this rise. If you are not agreeing to an increase on this occasion, explain why, but also speak to your team member and suggest potential ways they can develop their role, and work towards the increase they requested. Agree to another review at a later date and set your employee targets to reach by that point.

Summary

If you look to be a fair and considerate employer, you should still be able to motivate and gain the trust of your staff members, even if you can’t agree to reward them with a pay rise. If you are a fair and considerate employee, you will continue to act professionally and put effort into your work, whether or not you have received the exact raise you requested and will strive to achieve that pay rise through your performance.

References
  1. 1.Price, Alan, Annual pay rises – what could go wrong? (Manchester: Peninsula, 2017) <https://www.peninsulagrouplimited.com/2017/06/30/annual-pay-rises-go-wrong/>

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