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How to Manage a Pay Rise Request

By February 16, 2016February 17th, 2016HR Research, HR Solutions
Employment Tribunal | HR Solutions

Recent research has found that a quarter of UK employees would rather clean their house than ask for a raise.

Almost one in five (18%) would prefer to look for a new job than speak to their current manager, whilst 8% would rather go to the dentist. 3% of respondents stated that they would rather run a marathon than ask for a pay rise.

The research, by recruitment firm Robert Half, found that UK employees are much less likely to ask for a raise than those in other parts of the world. Just over half (54%) of UK employees plan to ask for a pay rise this year, compared to 77% of employees in France and 78% in Germany.

It will always be an awkward conversation when an employee asks for a raise. But when so many people would rather look for a new role instead, you may wish it was a conversation they had started.

What to do when an Employee asks for a Pay Rise

Unless you’re a generous (or perhaps unapproachable) employer, at some point an employee is likely to ask you for a raise. If you haven’t prepared for this scenario it can be easy to cause yourself problems in the future.

With that in mind we have prepared a guide on what you need to think about when an employee asks you for more money.

Take Your Time

Just to be clear, we don’t mean telling your employee you will get back to them and then forgetting that they ever said anything. Schedule a meeting for a day or two later to discuss their case for a pay rise. This will give you the opportunity to reflect on the question and to find out what they could be earning elsewhere.

Discussing pay can heighten emotions. It’s best to recognise this and set yourself enough time to consider their request rationally.

Know the Industry Averages

Before making any decision you need to know the average salary for your employee’s role. If it turns out that your employee is earning less than they could elsewhere then this could be your last chance to keep them.

It doesn’t hurt to pay fairly anyway. Sites like Glassdoor make it easier than ever for prospective employees to find out what working for you is really like, and so offering competitive salaries will allow you to continue to attract and retain the best talent.

Consider a Progress Plan

This approach is useful when you have an employee who performs well but perhaps need to improve in one or two areas. By setting realistic targets and time scales you give your employee a chance to truly earn their pay rise.

A progress plan will also send out the right message to the rest of your team, because unfortunately some people do talk about these things.

Review Pay Consistently

If one employee gets a pay rise you may be inundated with requests from a workforce keen to see what they can get. This is why you need to put a pay review process in place that looks at every aspect of the employee’s performance and workload objectively. You can then weigh it against your organisation’s salary bands.

A pay review process gives you a structured look at your employee’s contributions to the business. You can then set out a structure for their role and formalise the performance level required to earn a higher salary.


It goes without saying that salary can be a contentious issue; there’s no need to make it more difficult than it has to be though. Know what your employees are worth, set out a standardised approach, and put yourself in the best position to answer any pay rise request.

Managing Payroll can be complicated. Call us on 0844 324 5840 or contact us online to find out more about how our Payroll Services can help.

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