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How to ask for a pay rise - Part 1: Timing

Published on: 29 Sep 2017

CJ Obi [square]Most of us would rather avoid negotiating a pay rise if possible. But if you are planning to ask for an increase, it's worth calculating your approach beforehand.

Plot your reward

The idea of a ‘perfect’ work/life balance is one that we all seek but something that can be difficult to achieve, writes CJ Obi (left), head of planning and surveying with recruitment consultant Osborne Richardson.

Employees will typically look for pay rises when there are good market conditions. Even so, having the guts to ask for a pay rise can be daunting.

Timing is everything

The key is to assess several factors:

  1. What has changed in your role/levels of achievement to justify a pay rise?
  2. How is your company currently performing in the market?
  3. Are there recent examples of people within your team/ company/ competitors who have received a pay rise?

Granted, the third factor can be difficult to gauge, but you should easily be able to monitor the first two. However, even if both you and the company are performing well, there’s no guarantee that your request will be met favourably – because nothing has been pre-agreed.

From my experiences of working with planners, I have found that the best way to seek a pay rise is to set out a goal with your line manager with a clear target for you to reach to get a pay increase. This way, the approach to hitting the target is collaborative; it also ensures that getting a pay rise is an attainable goal.

Where to start

I advise clients to approach their manager in a calm manner and explain their circumstances honestly, then propose a plan to increase their value to the business, which in turn can reward them with an improved salary package.

By demonstrating your value to the business, rather than making the issue solely about you, your manager is much more likely to listen sympathetically. That’s because you’ve made it clear that increased reward goes hand in hand with increased responsibility.

Targets to agree with your managers could include:

  • Generating fees for the business;
  • Cross-selling relationships with other departments;
  • New business generation; and
  • Positive feedback received on the quality of service you provide.

As an example, an agreed target and outcome could be “If you introduce three new clients to the business this year, we will increase your salary by X.”
If you are professional and set out a plan of action with targets and rewards that both you and your manager agree on, there can be no ambiguity about the outcome of your pay request.

What do planners get paid?

What sort of salary can you expect as a planner? The government’s National Careers Service website suggests a starting salary of around £18,000, rising to £34,000 for a senior planner and £55 to £80,000 for a chief planner. It also maintains that chartered status could improve earning potential.

The RTPI’s own member survey conducted in late 2013, with responses from more than 5,000 planners, confirms this – but adds a lot more detail. You can download a PDF summary of the survey here. Another survey is due to be published in Autumn 2017.

Here are the headline figures:

- The biggest proportion of planners earns between £25,000 and £40,000 (around 42 per cent, with the highest concentration in the £30-35,000 bracket);

- One in seven planners (14 per cent) earns less than £25,000;

- Nine per cent earn above £70,000;

- Chartered members of the RTPI are more likely to earn £35-55k plus compared with the rest of the RTPI’s membership. More than half (54 per cent) of chartered members earning £45-55k say it has affected their salary; and

- Salaries are more likely to be higher in the South, and London has a markedly higher proportion of planners on higher (£55,000+) salaries. Planners in Ireland and overseas are also more likely to be in higher income brackets.

But it’s not all about the salary

The 2013 RTPI membership figures show that 38 per cent of Licentiate members work in the private sector, 54 per cent in the public sector and 3 per cent in the third sector.

Public and third-sector employment often includes greater holiday entitlement and a more generous pension scheme than the private sector. Other benefits may include more flexible working hours and home-based working. On the other hand, the private sector has greater flexibility to offer performance-related pay and profit-sharing.

When asking for a pay rise, it’s worth thinking about your overall package, such as holiday entitlements and employer support for further training/qualifications. Even if you don’t get offered the rise you’d like, your employer may well give you a better overall package that serves you just as well in the long run.

Photo | iStock