• Getting a Raise in the Depression The Five Things to Do

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    : I know this probably sounds nutty, with so many companies
    cutting pay or freezing pay in order to avoid layoffs (or, further
    layoffs), but I’m thinking of asking for a raise. First of all,
    my employer has not cut or frozen anyone’s pay – at least not
    to my knowledge. However, we have had layoffs here, so I’m now doing
    the work three people used to do.

    But the main
    reason I want to bring up money with my boss is that I was hired
    exactly one year ago at the low end of the salary scale for my position
    (production-line supervisor), and was told at that time that my
    pay would be reviewed – with an eye toward increasing it to at least
    the middle of the range – in six months. Then the recession hit,
    and no more was said about it. But I think I should ask, especially
    since my performance has been pretty great. I’ve introduced new
    efficiencies, cut costs, increased productivity, etc. Any advice
    on how to approach this? -Marty

    Dear Marty:
    It takes chutzpah to ask for a raise in this economic climate, but
    it’s not quite as crazy as it sounds. It seems that a little over
    two-thirds (67%) of U.S. employers are planning pay hikes for at
    least some of their employees before the end of this year, according
    to a new survey of 850 companies by compensation consultants Mercer.

    however, the extra moolah won’t be doled out evenly across all job
    categories. Only 56% of executives will get pay hikes, versus 69%
    of professionals (a group that includes, for example, in-house attorneys),
    and 73% of those in "trades, production, and service"
    jobs (that would include you). Positions in manufacturing, engineering,
    and information technology are most likely to see pay increases,
    Mercer’s research found, while marketing, sales, and finance jobs
    earn stagnant or even declining wages. Overall, salary budgets in
    2009 will rise by about 3.2%, roughly the average pay hike that
    prevailed before the recession started.

    Why the sudden
    loosening of the pursestrings? "Companies realize that they
    need to be poised for a turnaround," says Steve Gross, global
    leader of Mercer’s compensation consulting practice. "Continuing
    cost-cutting measures like salary freezes may put them at a disadvantage
    once the economy recovers."

    The fact that
    your job performance has been, as you put it, "pretty great"
    is crucial to your argument in favor of more money. Tim Schoonover,
    CEO of leadership-development and coaching firm OI Partners, has
    noticed lately that more companies are focusing attention on how
    to keep their best performers happy.

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    15, 2009

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