With millions of people still quitting jobs and firms facing millions of job vacancies, leaders are looking for fast ways to retain workers. “Every company is worried about turnover and is willing to do something to keep their best employees,” says Dan Kaplan, a senior client partner for Korn Ferry’s CHRO practice. And with corporate earnings continuing to rise, “employers have never been more profitable, so it’s a good time to ask,” says Nathan Blain, Korn Ferry’s global lead for optimizing people costs.
Still, every case is different. Expert say employees should prepare for their year-end reviews by building a solid case based on their own performance. Here are five ways to gear up for that discussion.
Set aside modesty.
Most employees are reluctant to talk about money or their achievements, but your performance review is the best time to bring up both subjects, Kaplan says. “This is one of the moments where you need to channel a bit of selfish energy,” he says. Go to the meeting prepared to talk about your 10 best accomplishments, Kaplan says.
Discuss the impact of your work.
Rather than discussing what you did at work this past year, focus on the impact of your accomplishments and how they contributed to the company’s bottom line. “Be prepared to discuss the direct economic impact your actions had on the company’s profits,” Blain says. Think in terms of increased customer retention, sales or revenue growth, or expanded market reach.
Determine your market value.
If you suspect your salary is below market, research how much others in your position — living in the same city and with the same years of experience, education, and skills — are being paid. But be aware that most managers are skeptical of data from sites like Glassdoor because the salary numbers are self-reported, Blain says. If you have a friend with a similar job who is getting paid more by a competitor, that data might hold more weight, he says.
Using data to make your case can be tricky in any case, Kaplan says. The numbers from Glassdoor are at least a year old, he says. And you don’t want to cite the higher pay of a colleague at the same company. “Discussing salary could be a fireable offense, and you don’t know if your colleague is exaggerating his salary,” Kaplan says.
Make sure it was a good year.
You should ask for a raise during a performance review only if the discussion with your manager is positive, Kaplan says. If you’re getting negative feedback about your performance, don’t ask for more money.
If your company hasn’t had a profitable year and has had to lay people off, don’t ask for a raise. But you should stake a claim on a raise in 2022, Kaplan says. Acknowledge that it’s been a tough year for the company but remind your manager about your accomplishments and say something like, “As the market returns, I hope that next year you will consider me for a salary increase and factor in that I have waited a year for a raise.”
Keep personal finances out of the discussion.
Never talk about inflation or your need for more money when you ask for a raise, Blain says. “Your employer doesn’t want to hear that inflation is making it harder for you to stretch your salary because everything costs more,” he says. And your manager won’t be moved by your personal financial situation. Don’t talk about how you want to buy a larger house or complain that the city where you work is too expensive to live in.
“What your employer will be moved by is the possibility of losing a valued employee if you don’t get a raise,” Blain says.