What To Expect When You’re Not Expecting A Raise

The holiday season is officially upon us — and with that comes the excitement of holiday parties, bonuses and the promise of raises following annual performance reviews. But what if your employer has decided to skip out on the holiday cheer and forego companywide raises this year? Despite the economy being relatively healthy compared to recent years, that’s a reality you should brace yourself for.

not expecting a raise

Still, not getting a raise this year doesn’t mean your hands are tied. There are still a few tricks to have up your sleeve as you reflect on your performance and look to the future.

Ask Intelligent, Respectful, Relevant Questions

Remember, there could be legitimate reasons why raise or bonuses are not being given out this year and, if you find yourself in that situation, it’s OK to ask thoughtful questions. If, for example, it appears to be a cost-saving move because the business is planning to make a big investment in Q1, then you can follow up with a question about whether it would be possible to revisit this conversation in Q2.

Schedule A Follow-Up Meeting With Your Manager

Most companies have annual (or sometimes more frequent) performance review meetings, and there is usually a script your manager will follow in order to check the box on their end. This is typically when you can expect to find out about bonuses and/or raises. Go one step further and schedule a meeting with your manager following your performance review. Think of it as a de-brief of the review where the goal is to present your requests and set up next steps.

Make A Wish List In Lieu Of A Raise

One of the most important considerations as you prepare your list of requests is to be reasonable and realistic. If your employer isn’t able to offer raises, they won’t be open to any extravagant asks. However, there are certainly legitimate requests you could bring to their attention, including: flexible schedules, taking advantage of learning and development programs, the chance to participate in industry events and trade shows, etc.

Inquire About Career Pathing Discussions And Promotion Opportunities

If a raise or bonus is not in your near future, it doesn’t mean you can’t plan your future at the company. Depending on where you are in your journey with your company, it could be time to up your game at work and begin formal discussions around your interest in moving laterally or up within the organization. If you feel the time is right, communicate to your manager that you’re motivated and ready for the next step in your career and ask for his/her suggestions or recommendations for how to navigate your career pathing discussions.

Make Plans To Revisit The Discussion in 2019

Just because it’s not in the cards for the time being doesn’t mean you can’t revisit the discussion in Q1 or even mid-year. As we noted earlier, try to get a sense for when it might be appropriate to revisit the conversation next year and mark it down on the calendar so it’s on your radar. In the meantime, the most important thing you can do is start doing your homework and researching what you’re worth compared to peers as well as the market you’re in. Walk into your next meeting about raises armed with the appropriate salary data and information.

Deanna Hartley is a writer and editor, and has spent 10+ years publishing articles on job search advice, career development, recruitment, HR and human capital management. Deanna has a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, was formerly a senior editor at award-winning publisher Human Capital Media and a senior copywriter at CareerBuilder. She currently works as a content manager at Aon. Her articles have appeared in publications including Gannett, Business Insider, the Chicago Tribune and Workforce Magazine.

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