How to ask for a pay rise in 2017

Kiwi employees are best positioned to ask for a salary increase during a performance review or at the start of a new project. Read more here. 

  • 37% of New Zealand CFOs say the best time for their employees to ask for a pay rise is during their performance review and 27% say at the start of a new project. 
  • 64% say company performance is the main factor determining higher remuneration budgets, whereas 37% cite the overall economic climate. 

Research by leading global recruitment company Robert Half confirms Kiwi employees are best positioned to ask for a salary increase during a performance review or at the start of a new project, indicating a prepared and proactive approach is the best way for employees to secure more pay. 

More than one in three (37%) Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) say the best time for employees to broach the issue of a pay rise is during a performance review, whereas more than one in four (27%) cite the best time is at the commencement of a new project. A mere 14% state any time during the year would be the best time for their employees to discuss salary increases. 

Megan Alexander, General Manager Robert Half New Zealand said: “Kiwi workers hoping to start 2017 off with a salary increase should carefully consider their approach to broaching the subject with their boss. The start of the New Year typically brings with it fresh opportunities for employees to strengthen their career prospects, so now is as good a time as any for Kiwi employees to raise the issue with their boss.”

“How much an employee is getting paid, is representative of the value they think the company has of them and therefore important to their motivations. Employers need to be receptive to their employee’s request for higher pay in order to keep their staff engaged.”

In terms of the variables that influence whether or not asking for a higher salary request is successful, almost two in three (64%) CFOs say increased salaries are dependent on their organisation’s performance, while more than one in three (37%) cite the overall economic climate being the primary reason. 

“Successfully asking for a pay rise is not just about good timing. Taking a proactive and well-thought out approach can have a significant impact on the outcome of salary discussions. Employees need to be prepared to make a strong case to show how their performance has benefitted the company and what value they will continue to bring.”

“Secondly, it’s important to understand the current market forces affecting the company’s industry. Employees who demonstrate to their employer their market worth will be in a stronger position during salary negotiations. And yet, not all organisations are in a position to offer a pay rise, so employees should be prepared to consider non-financial rewards that can substitute for a salary rise,” concluded Megan Alexander.

Preparation is key – 5 steps for preparing to ask for a pay rise

1.    Do your research to understand how the market is performing
Research your company’s industry – if the industry is doing well and your skill set is in high demand, these factors can be leveraged to your advantage when asking for a higher salary. However, if your company’s performance has not delivered favourable results, now may not be the right time to approach the boss for a pay rise – yet you may be able to negotiate non-financial rewards such as annual leave and flexible working arrangements. 

2.    Understand the value you bring to your organisation
In many organisations, salary rises are linked to performance and results rather than seniority. Before asking for a rise you therefore need to ask yourself: “What have I done to add value to the company and how can I further improve on this performance?” Asking these questions will help justify your request for a higher salary. 

3.    Look at the salary surveys for your industry
Knowing what you are worth by using industry comparisons is a great start to seeking higher remuneration, and a salary guide can be a valuable tool here. Consult the Robert Half Salary Guide to find out what your industry is paying for particular finance roles.

Using a salary guide to assess what you are currently earning compared to your peers within your industry will also help you decide if you should consider making the switch to a new company.

4.    Don’t ‘ambush’ your employer
When asking for a pay rise, don’t rush the process. Give your manager at least three or four days’ notice when asking for a meeting, effectively tabling an agenda to discuss your career and salary. Giving your manager time will allow you to plan what you are going to say and gives the manager time to properly evaluate your performance. 

5.    Be honest and realistic with your personal assessment
When you’re trying to negotiate a pay rise, be prepared to look at things from the boss’s perspective. Can they justify a salary increase higher up the chain? Can the company afford it? What will the organisation get in return? Are you too valuable to be refused a salary increase? If you’ve already played their side of the court, you’ll be able to give yourself an honest assessment of your abilities and performance and be able to satisfy any of your boss’s concerns. 


About the research
The annual study is developed by Robert Half and conducted by an independent research firm, surveying 100 Chief Financial Officers (CFO) and finance directors in New Zealand. This survey is part of the international workplace survey, a questionnaire about job trends, talent management and trends in the workplace.


Katherine Mills
Public Relations Manager, Asia Pacific
P: +61 2 8028 7757
E: [email protected]