How to Ask for a Raise During the Covid Pandemic

It’s that time of year again – performance review season is about to kick off amidst a global pandemic. This Hey HR Question is one many of you are going to be asking yourselves over the next few months, ‘How to Ask for a Raise During the Covid Pandemic?’. Check out my surprising answer below.

HEY HR Q: I was told in my last performance review that I’d be considered for a promotion at my next review.  Then COVID happened.  Although I still have my job, my company has instituted a hiring and merit increase freeze so I’m nervous about bringing up my promotion.  I don’t want to seem greedy, but I’ve worked really hard and I need this promotion and raise.

Hey HR A: This has been an unprecedented year for all of us, organizations included.  In order to survive these times some businesses have mandated pay cuts, conducted lay-offs, and required remaining employees to step up and take on more responsibilities.  But, there are also organizations who have managed their finances well over the years who maintain a strong position to invest in their employees through DE&I trainings, leadership coaching, and flexible benefits to support working parents.   No matter the current health of your organization (whether it’s thriving, surviving, or dying), it’s important, now more than ever, to negotiate.

It’s best to time your negotiation with your boss when you have the most likelihood that your organization will say “yes”.  Typically, I don’t recommend asking for a raise or promotion during your performance review meeting because budgets have already been approved, funds have been allocated, and your manager is busy reviewing several other employees at the same time.   Under normal circumstances,  the best time to ask for a raise or promotion at work is a couple of months in advance of the date you’d like to receive it.

However, this year is different.  Asking for whatever it is you want during your performance review this year (opportunity, money, benefits, flexibility, or recognition) may or may not result in the “yes” you’re looking for, but it will get you the information you need to make decisions about your career in the next year.

Let’s face it, your performance review discussion may very well be the only chance you get to talk about you!  Now is the time to negotiate for your future.

Here are my 5 tips on how to ask for a raise during the COVID Pandemic:

1.  Do your homework

Whether or not completing a self-assessment is part of your organizations annual review cycle, it’s critical that you’ve prepared your contribution case.

How have you made an impact this year?  In what ways did you save or make the company money?  What did you take off of your boss’ plate that helped them to do their job better? Do your homework to understand what value you’ve delivered this year and own it.  If you missed it, for a limited time you can access my recording of my Own Your Value Secure Your Future webinar here.

2. Schedule the discussion

It’s up to you to insist that you and your boss set aside time to discuss your performance, your career, and your future.  You and your team may be busier than ever putting out fires and managing heavy workloads, but it’s crucial you get one on one time with your boss to check in, ask questions, set expectations moving forward, and understand the health of your organization.

3.  Make your ask

What do you really want/need in order to continue feeling motivated to show up and work hard every day?  If it’s a raise or promotion but you’re being asked to “hold off” for now, will your company consider giving you the title now with a pay increase in 3 months?  What are they willing to put in writing for you if you have to wait months for it to be effective?  Do you want to work a 4 day work week or an adjusted schedule to support kids homeschooling?  Now is the time to make an ask.  Even if the answer is “no” (either not now or not ever) you’ll get critical information about what your future will look like if you decide to hang in there and stay with your current organization.

4. Talk about money

You may be asked to forgo a raise this year or work on a team with reduced headcount but it doesn’t mean you can’t talk about money.  If you’re showing up every day doing your job well, then you can ask your employer to share their timeframe for re-instituting full pay and opening up headcount requisitions.  Be curious and ask how your company plans to handle end of year bonuses?  What’s in it for you to continue performing above and beyond for below market pay?  It’s best to clearly state your ask and put it out there that you’re looking for a raise and promotion that will increase your salary by $12,000 – $20,000 in the next 3-6 months – what’s the likelihood this can happen?

5. Own Your Worth

Notice what fears and emotions come up for you as you think about preparing your case to make an ask.  Consider the potential responses you may receive from your boss and organization and prepare your responses in advance using curiosity to understand.  Remember at the end of the day that you are worthy of receiving what you want and what you need to be able to show up and lead, doing your best work.  Your company receives a benefit from your expertise.

Your worth to your organization is rooted in the value you deliver, but you, my worthy friend, are priceless. Check out my free webinar here on how to own your value, secure your future!

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