Raises More Likely When Employees Negotiate for Them

The higher an employee’s annual salary, the more likely a raise was granted

By Stephen Miller, CEBS Jan 20, 2015

Most employees are still uncomfortable asking for a raise or negotiating a salary offer, according to PayScale’s 2015 Salary Negotiation Guide.

Data was collected from 31,000 employees who completed the pay consultancy’s survey of salary negotiation practices and attitudes from Oct. 1 through Nov. 24, 2014.

Fewer than half (43 percent) of survey respondents had asked for a raise in their current field. For the 57 percent who had not asked, the reasons most often cited were:

My employer gave me a raise before I needed to ask for one (38 percent).

I'm uncomfortable negotiating salary (28 percent).

I didn't want to be perceived as pushy (19 percent).

The higher their annual salary, the more likely that employees were to have asked for a raise, and the more likely they were to have received it. While only 25 percent of those earning $10,000 to $20,000 received the raise they requested, 70 percent of those earning more than $150,000 received their requested raise.

Gender and Pay Negotiation

Women were more likely than men to state that they were uncomfortable negotiating salary—31 percent vs. 23 percent—and that held true even among C-level executives, where 26 percent of female CEOs said they were uncomfortable negotiating, compared to 14 percent of male CEOs.

Women holding an MBA degree seem to be struggling most with potential gender bias when it comes to salary negotiation, according to PayScale’s analysis. Of those who asked for a raise, only 48 percent of female MBA graduates received the requested raise compared to 63 percent of male MBA graduates. And 21 percent of female MBA grads received no raise at all after requesting one, compared to 10 percent of male MBA grads.

Generational Factors

Members of Generation Y (born between 1982 and 2002) were far less likely to have asked for a raise and far more likely to be uncomfortable negotiating or worried about being perceived as pushy. Both likely stem from lack of experience. Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964), however, were more likely to say they didn’t negotiate for fear of losing their job, which could indicate a concern over age bias in the workplace, according to PayScale.

Job Satisfaction

Being happy with one’s job was also a crucial factor in determining who asks for and, ultimately, is granted a raise:

Workers with low job satisfaction were more likely to ask for a raise (54 percent) than those with high job satisfaction (41 percent).

But only 19 percent of people with low job satisfaction receive the amount they asked for, whereas 44 percent of workers with high job satisfaction receive the amount they requested.

“To me, that indicates a breakdown in the relationship between those workers with low job satisfaction and their manager,” said Lydia Frank, editorial director at PayScale. “So often, your job satisfaction is directly correlated to how well you’re getting along with your boss. And, if that relationship isn’t strong, it’s not surprising that those managers aren’t granting the requested raises.”

Stephen Miller, CEBS, is an online editor/manager for SHRM. Follow him on Twitter @SHRMsmiller.

Related SHRM Articles:

Workers Want Raises, or They Will Walk, SHRM Online Employee Relations, January 2015

Raise and Promotion Requests Rising, SHRM Online Compensation, November 2014

Salary Gripes Are Top Reason Employees Quit, SHRM Online Compensation, October 2014

Raises Spotlight Top Performers, SHRM Online Compensation, August 2014

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