A new study out of Madrid found that the key to happiness at work isn’t in how much you are paid, but how much you are paid relative to your peers. So basically: Make less than your coworkers, “have a sad” in the office restroom on a regular basis.
To make matters worse, when workers discover income disparities, studies show they tend to work harder. “[This is] due to the idea that if those around me earn more than I do, it might indicate that if I work hard I will end up earning as much as they do,” says Eduardo Perez Asenjo, study author and professor of economics at UC3M in Madrid. Ultimately, this strategy will likely just result in even greater feelings of resentment that you’re underpaid… and also overworked.
The good news is that there are strategies you can take if your goal is to earn more
Here’s how to ask for a raise and hear ‘yes’ in four simple steps.
1. Pick a number—but not just any number
Asking too high makes you look insane, asking too low means you’re missing out on potential income. The key is figuring out what the sweet spot is. “Too many people ask for raises based on what they’d like to earn or a general gut feeling that they should be making more,” says Alison Green, author of the popular Ask a Manager blog. “Do some research on industry norms for your particular work in your geographic area and see where your salary falls relative to those markers.”
Tip: Don’t use salary websites as a reference. Green says that the most reliable method is to ask other people in your field for their opinion. That said, most people tend to squirm when asked about their salary directly. “But you can bounce figures off them and see how they respond,” she says. “Do they think the number you mention is about right, or does it seem too high or too low to them?” Base your ask off your intel.
2. Wait for the ideal time
Make sure you’ve put in a significant amount of time (at least a year) and have a sustained track record of accomplishment before you try to climb the monetary ladder. And don’t become a repeat raise demander! If you just earned a raise 3 months ago, don’t come knocking too soon. “In most companies, you won’t get your first raise until you’ve been there for at least a year, and you usually won’t get a raise more than once a year after that,” Green says.
Also, Green adds, it’s important to think big picture. “It helps if the company is in decent financial straits; when employers are going through a rough financial time, they’re looking for places to cut costs, not add them, so you want to be sensitive to that,” she says.
3. Sell yourself
Don’t just tell your boss why you deserve a raise—show her. “A raise is an acknowledgement that you’re now contributing at a significantly higher level than when your salary was last set,” Green says. “So think about what achievements you had in the last year and why your work truly is worth more to your employer now than it was when your salary was last set.” Hard facts trump emotions every time. Possible accomplishments to mention: compliments from customers, increased revenue by X dollars, or evidence that you handle twice the caseload of your original responsibilities.
4. Never give up
Don’t take your boss’s “no” as a devastating rejection and plan to burn down the building Office Space style. “If your boss turns down your request, ask what you would need to accomplish to earn a raise in the future” Green says. “A good manager will be able to show you what a path to a salary increase would look like.” – Womenshealthmag