As a manager of several employees, I can tell you that managers and supervisors generally want to keep their employees happy and content. The cost of replacing an employee includes training, benefits, building chemistry and trust, growing that person’s knowledge and experience, and even after all that the employee may not be happy with the type of job they have. All that to say, I can tell you from both sides of the table that a valued employee has more leverage than they realize! Giving an employee a small raise is not extremely costly in comparison to replacing one.
My Raise Experience
From an employee standpoint, here’s a story from one of my jobs 10 years ago: When I was 20 years old I performed some contract work for a computer installation company, installing computers all over the state. I was making around $12.50/hour working around 50 hours a week, plus mileage for driving my car everywhere. After about 4 months the contract work ended, and I found a full time job. Unfortunately that new job came to an unexpected end as the company lost their contract (and subsequently laid me off). So I went back to the installation company and started a new contract job with them.
The second time around was only 5 months after the first, but I asked for a meeting with the company owner and let him know that my knowledge had grown over the last year and I thought that I was worth at least $15/hour. He told me he understood my thinking, but unfortunately all the members of my crew were making $12.50 and he wasn’t going to be negotiating each person’s salary. I said I understood his position, but just wanted to make my opinion clear. We ended the meeting and I got to work.
About a month later the company started another contract job and split my crew in two. Our crew leader went to the other site and asked me to help coordinate the guys at my site, which I was happy to do. I knew that somewhere along the way it had been suggested to my crew leader that I was looking for more responsibility. I made a mental note to call the company owner back and thank him, as well as remind him about my opinion.
After about a week I gave him a call and thanked him for allowing me to take charge a bit. I also asked him for the same raise I had asked for a month earlier, which he was happy to grant this time around. Over the summer I worked some long hours, sometimes 60-70 hours a week because we were installing computers at night and then offering help to the employees during the following day.
This simple act of asking for a higher wage resulted in a 20% raise for me, and over the next 4 months turned into $2,600 of extra pay that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. And not only that, but I was able to take that salary level to my next employer and set the expectation of what my time was worth on the front end. Since then I’ve never doubted the value of my time.
Here are my takeaways from this experience:
- Employers value quality employees – if you are working hard and offering value, don’t be afraid to let your employer know that!
- Be reasonable with your expectations – companies are often bound by policies and don’t have the ability to change immediately
- Be patient and professional with your request – your manager will likely go to bat for you once they see that you can express your desires without getting angry or impatient
- It takes guts to ask for a raise, but the result can be SO worth the effort
What do you think about straight-up asking for a raise? Have you tried it before, or would you like to? Are you willing to do what it takes? Do you have any other takeaways that I’ve missed?