Asking for a raise is never easy. It’s been quite a difficult couple of years for many of us. We’ve lost businesses. We’ve lost family members. We’ve lost friends, and some of us lost our jobs. That’s why now is the time to step up.
But with millions of people in the developed world seeking early retirement, and millions more permanently out of the workforce (or tragically no longer with us), a tide is turning.
People aged 18-42 (our core audience) are, for the first time in most of our lives, in a position to demand new concessions from employers who have been used to skimping on pay and benefits for years. In America, 4.3 million people quit their jobs in August. That’s a record. The numbers across OECD countries paint as crisp a picture of changing expectations from the labor market. Employees feel they deserve more, and they’re largely getting what they ask for.
Unemployment rates are at their lowest in my lifetime, and at the age of 37, I’m now facing the prospect of getting raises for two years in a row. It’s a far cry from the desperate situation of only 18 months ago, as businesses struggled to keep going under lockdown conditions. For many of us, this struggle continues, but for millions of young people, prospects for a fairer and more prosperous future are better than they have been in many years.
Why you Deserve a Raise This Year
We could pick any arbitrary number of reasons why you deserve a raise. The simple fact is that you probably deserve one just because you’re awesome. Otherwise why would you be here?
But seriously: here are at least 8 reasons why you deserve a raise, and how to argue for one:
Your Business is Growing
If you’re anything like us, and many small and medium sized businesses have seen the same thing: sales are growing, and business is booming again. The recovery can be felt suddenly everywhere, from the sharp rise in consumer spending to the growing difficulty of finding staff to service new demand.
As employees begin to garner more wages, and various government spending programs continue to impact growth, there is growing demand for services and products that were once off the table as people cut budgets during Covid. The pent up demand for new products and services is spurring price growth as well, which affords businesses with more cash to invest in new technologies and ideas.
If your business is growing, you should ask for a raise. A rising tide raises all ships, and so it should raise yours too.
You’ve Upped Your Game
Since lockdown began, many of us have been asked to take on responsibilities and roles we never had before. As older workers begin to leave the labor force, their job responsibilities are becoming our own.
Maybe you had to show up for “hero duty” during lockdowns. Or maybe you had to work at home with 2 small children driving you nuts. Either way, you’ve stepped up to the plate and continued to deliver in the face of enormous challenges. You’ve earned a raise my friend.
You’ve Made Sacrifices
Speaking of heroes: if your employer thought it was appropriate to label you as particularly heroic for continuing to work during the global pandemic, you are perfectly within your rights to ask that they back that praise up with something real: a raise.
You probably worked in less than ideal conditions during the last 2 years, and it’s time that companies made good on the sacrifices employees have made for the sake of their community, their coworkers, and yes, the company. Maybe you’ve risked your life. Maybe you’ve just had to endure soul-crushing loneliness as you sat at home and continued to do your job with no emotional support or companionship. Either way: show me the money.
Inflation is Rising
It’s no longer a rumor. It’s a fact. Across the developed world, consumer prices rose over 5% in 2021. As businesses recover and seek new workers, they’re having to pay a premium to find them, and that means prices are going up. Some sectors, like travel, have seen even bigger increases, with airline tickets rising 25%, and the cost of used cars skyrocketing as chip and other supply shortages continue to take their toll.
All in all, your life is just more expensive than it was a year ago, and that means a raise is in order.
Unemployment is Low
When lots of people are looking for jobs, employers can afford to take their workers for granted. But today there are more jobs than there are workers available to do them. Sure, quitting your job is hard and scary, but don’t forget that losing you is also going to be hard and scary for your employer. Especially since you will be able to find work wherever you want, and they will have to compete with every other employer to try and replace you.
It costs more to replace an adequate worker than it does to retain them, and that should be your attitude when you seek your raise this year.
Employer Costs are Down
While inflation is rising and the costs of living are going up, many of the costs of business have gone down. Offices have saved money on cleaning, electricity, and food services. They’ve saved money on travel expenses, and per diem as workers have stayed home and telecommuted to conferences, making more sales over Zoom than in person.
Commercial real estate costs, unlike much of the rest of the economy, is still suffering a downturn as businesses shift to hybrid work. So with this in mind, you can argue that the company is able to be more profitable than ever before, given that fixed costs have decreased.
Your Costs Have Gone Up
Speaking of the cost of doing business, it’s likely that if you’re a remote worker, your costs have risen as your employer’s have dropped. You’ve invested in teleconferencing equipment, you’ve used more electricity and water, and you’ve made more of your own meals at home. You’ve probably also put more wear on your own personal computer equipment than you normally would.
All that translate to just one more argument in favor of a raise. After all, how is your employer going to see your beautiful face on zoom during that weekly meeting if you don’t have that brand new 4K webcam with autofocus? And don’t get us started on the rising costs of broadband, and in some countries dreaded data caps.
Plus, the costs of things like childcare, personal automobiles, public transit, and food have all gone up too, which impacts remote workers more than anyone else. Loyalty Should be Valued
The fact is that if you’re still with your previous employer after all you’ve been through the last 2 years, that deserves some recognition. Companies should be worried about appearances these days, and refusing to give a pay bump when it’s really needed just isn’t a good look.
Don’t be afraid to let your employer know that loyalty goes both ways. If your employer isn’t willing to demonstrate to you, right now, that they are looking out for your long term interests with a decent raise, then they may be signaling that things aren’t going to be any better in the future, and it may be time to move on.