Leadership Blog

Posted By: Chris O'Sullivan | on July 29 2019

You Deserve a Pay Rise … Or Do You?

It’s that time of the year – performance review time.  You have received salary increases in the past but you feel you are worth more than the average 3-5% increase.  You create millions of dollars in revenue and you are mentoring, training and supporting a team.  You feel you have enough proof that you go ‘above and beyond’ to your boss and are preparing your presentation for review time.


First of all, don’t wait until review time to pitch for an increase.  Most likely your boss or manager has already budgeted for next year.  You need to act sooner rather than later to give your boss the opportunity to review it based on your proposal.


So, how do you put a successful proposal forward?  Arguments such as “I create millions of dollars in sales” is not in itself enough for a pay raise.  If the previous incumbent produced much less revenue than you then you may have a case for a bigger pay increase.  Here are my five tips for submitting both strong and weak arguments for a pay rise:


Strongest Arguments for a Pay Rise


  • My work is central to the organisations ability to compete and I am the only person or one of the only people who can do this work (or do it as well as I do).
  • My contribution to the organisation over the past year has made a significant, tangible and positive difference to the bottom line and that will likely continue at the same level if not better in the coming year.
  • Without me on your team, you would have to pay much more to consultants to do the same work.
  • I am integral to the company’s plans for the coming year (me personally, not my tasks).
  • If I left the company, it would massively disrupt operations.


You can see immediately that although it’s nice to have a strong argument for a pay rise, it is also risky to be indispensable.  Any smart business will take steps to reduce risk and if one of the greatest risks is that a key employee may leave then it is an incentive to give that employee a pay rise but to also make contingency plans!


Weakest Arguments for a Pay Rise


  1. “I have replaced one or more people that have left.”

Not a strong argument as tasks may be a lower priority now.

  1. “I am a harder worker, more reliable, popular, etc.”.

That’s nice, but …..

  1. “I have learned a lot of new things in the past year.”

Comes with the territory and if you don’t learn, you don’t grow!.

  1. My work helps the company generate lots of revenue or saves money.”

That’s the way the job was designed.  As long as your company pays the going rate, this is a weak argument.

  1. “I’ll leave if I don’t get a pay rise.”

Unless one of the five strongest arguments is also in the mix, don’t expect this to work.  Most employers don’t take kindly to veiled threats.

Where does the argument “My pay is below the industry average” fall?

It is relevant, but not necessarily compelling on its own.  If you know you boss values your work and would hate to lose you, then for sure bring them up to date on salary-survey data and who them the gap between your current salary and the prevailing market salaries.


Be sure to prepare a list of your most significant projects and other accomplishments too.  Get a power point or bullet point list ready and present it soon so that your boss has the time to advocate with the higher-ups or review their budget on your behalf.


Eva Grabner
Managing Director

Elite Executive Pty Ltd


0409 59 11 88