New Year, Time for a Raise? Why Asking for a Raise can Trigger Anxiety

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As we welcome 2023 and get back into work mode, one thing often comes up at the turn of every annual calendar; performance evaluations which often go hand in hand with a potential raise. Whether a cost of living or a performance raise, this pay increase can be exciting. Still, it can also cause a lot of anxiety as a raise for many individuals mirrors their work potential and self-esteem, and as a result, the fear of rejection can stir up a lot of anxiety.

Many employees feel that they are underpaid and underappreciated. A raise can not only boost morale and self-esteem among employees but also boost employee work performance and productivity. According to studies released in Robert Half’s 2022 Salary Guide, 49% of workers feel underpaid. In addition, women (52%) are more likely than men to feel underpaid and underappreciated. If you feel this way, you are not alone, and a raise may be in order.

“A survey of 3,000 employees in the UK revealed that 55% of people are unwilling to ask for a raise. Among the reasons were not knowing what to say (16%), worries about appearing greedy (15%), or simply being afraid (12%). Whether your nerves stem from fear, low self-confidence, or a lack of knowledge surrounding your market value, asking for more from your employer is uncomfortable — even when the odds are in your favor

-The Harvard Business Review

Preparing to negotiate a raise with your boss places you in a vulnerable emotional position. Your feelings can be easily hurt if you’re not deemed as valuable by your employer as you perceive yourself to be. Different personality types may also view asking for a raise differently. Those individuals with strong, outgoing personalities may see their presence as a blessing to the organization and may believe they deserve a raise and can quickly back up this perception. Other individuals who are shyer and less outgoing may struggle with asking for money, as those who prefer to “work behind the scenes” often struggle to appreciate their value and may be more anxious about asking for a raise. Regardless of your personality type, when negotiating a raise, employers want to know what else you can bring to the table if you are granted this raise. Whether confident or anxious about bringing up with negotiation, you must make your case that you bring an indispensable value to the company.

When to ask for a raise?

A general rule is to ask for a raise 6-12 months after you have been employed with the company. In general, your company wants to see loyalty from its employees.

After you have been employed with your company for at least six months (preferably one year), and you believe you are performing well and are an asset to the company, asking for a raise is a normal part of the job, even though it can bring intense feelings of anxiety.

Retaining employees vs. hiring employees

Hiring and firing employees is an expensive part of running a business. It costs about ⅓ of your annual salary to hire and onboard a new employee if you leave the company. More than likely, you will not be asking for a 30% percent raise, so it is much more affordable and less stressful to retain employees and give them raises than it is to hire and onboard new employees.

Preparing yourself to negotiate your raise

However, a raise, whether it is a pay increase, a lateral move, a promotion, more flexibility in the company, or something else that makes you feel valued, is a transactional approach, meaning that you are asking for something in return for something else. Of course, as your abilities improve and increase, your added value to the company also improves, but when given a raise, you may be expected to do more in return. Additionally, you must make it clear why you have earned this raise. As a result, you must prepare yourself for why, how, and when you will negotiate your raise.

  • Use direct language: Avoid starting with phrases such as “I was just wondering”, or “I just want to ask…” and be specific in the amount you are asking for and the conditions associated with this transaction.
  • Business is the bottom line: Try to separate your personal and societal discomforts associated with asking for a raise and view this as a business transaction. Your company charges for their services and goods, and you charge for yours too.
  • There is value in both your knowledge and skill set: You were hired for a reason, and it is important to have concrete examples of why you should get a raise.

Document your value to the company in measurable data: How many new accounts have you brought in? How many new duties did you take on? How are you applying your learning to your job if you’ve been engaged in professional development? How are you taking the company’s vision and making it your own?

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