Wages are rising in the U.S. at its fastest rate in over a decade, especially for lower-income workers looking for a better salary.
According to The Conference Board, the average salary increase rose from 2.6% in April 2021 to 3% in November 2021. In 2022, wages are expected to grow by an average of 3.9%.
To help workers make the case for a raise, Kimberly Schneiderman, a career coach and senior practice development manager at Randstad RiseSmart, shared a few key ways to prepare for that crucial conversation with your organization.
"The first one is to make sure that you're actually interested in negotiating a salary, that you like this job, it's somewhere that you want to stay, it's a company that you enjoy working for," Schneiderman said. "It doesn't mean that you're not willing to leave, but it means that you'd rather stay. So you're going in with this positive win-win attitude."
The second step, she said, is to make sure that you have your list of accomplishments handy, whether it's the total cost of sales and revenue you generated over the years for the company or all the tasks you've taken on during that time.
"Time cost reductions are also a big value to companies, so having your accomplishments listed for those as well and then any time that you work directly with a customer and help win some sort of agreement or a loyalty agreement, or just made them happy," Schneiderman said.
Ways to prepare
Though the country is currently experiencing record inflation, Schneiderman cautioned against using that as a reason to request a raise as it is less of a driver in increasing wages than one might think.
"I would gravitate toward looking at the market value of the position that you're in," she said. "That's really what's going to be the driver, not inflation generally, but rather the market value. What is the position for someone with your experience, your background, your skill set, and your relationship with the organization worth in the market?"
Using this can help you come up with a clear number in mind to ask for from your company, which she said will "help cut to the chase" of what you're looking for."
"The best way to go about that is to do that market research so you know what you're asking for and give them a value," Schneiderman stressed.
Aside from determining your market value, another way to help bolster the argument for your raise is to evaluate what you could contribute to your organization going forward.
"Do you have some ideas that you can bring to the table about how you can be of further value to the organization? — what contributions you can bring, what innovations or other ideas that you can bring to the table," Schneiderman said.
Compromises to consider
It's also important to keep in mind that a salary increase might not be feasible, but your company could still be willing to work with you in other ways.
"You can say 'today I'm asking the company to raise my salary by X dollars or X% or I'm asking for an XYZ type of benefit to my employment here,'" Schneiderman said. "You might not be getting a salary increase that you're looking for, but maybe somebody is looking to negotiate more work-from-home days or hours, or some other type of benefit. Asking for specifically what you want really helps put things on the table and makes it very clear."
During the coronavirus pandemic, it's become increasingly common to work from home or switch to a hybrid schedule. A September 2021 Gallup Poll found that 45% of U.S. employees worked from home either entirely (25%) or in a hybrid manner (20%)
"There are definitely other benefits and sometimes there's wiggle room in terms of the amount of personal time off that you can negotiate if you're working from home and you want to buy some things," Schneiderman said. "Maybe there's an education budget that you can negotiate so that you can pursue learning and advancement of your own career skills — just a few of the benefits that you can negotiate, everything from personal time off to a car allowance or commuter allowance has been talked about in years past as well."
Karina is an anchor for Yahoo Finance.