Salary discussions usually take place at strategic times of the year – either the end of financial year or the end of a calendar year. They are opportunities for both employees and managers to conduct mid-year reviews, appraisals and salary negotiations. 

But as COVID-19 impacted the world economy, many companies have instigated cost-saving measures and budget forecasts for the year have been slashed, if not completely obsolete. 

For many, the focus is now more on trying to keep a job rather than negotiate a pay rise. However, salary discussions and negotiations during downturns and challenging periods should still go ahead, just approached with sensitivity from both employer and employee.  

Businesses that have survived the pandemic are still looking to reward and recognise their talented staff where possible, or at the least, map out further staff development in order to line up a salary increase once the business gets back to a position where it’s able to do so.

These key areas of focus highlight how to have a successful salary discussion with your manager during a downturn or more difficult times.

1. Arrange for a ‘face-to-face’ meeting

Although most teams are still operating remotely, it’s important to try to organise a face-to-face discussion if possible and safe to do so. If necessary, the face-to-face can be via a video conference call. You want to be able to make eye contact to build engagement, rapport and have open communication so that there is no room for misinterpretation.

2. Follow a clear structure

If your appraisal and review process has a typical format, take initiative and follow the structure that highlights your KPIs and contributions to the team.

In these unprecedented times, try to focus on how you have adapted to the new way of working, what you have learnt, how you have contributed and proven your value to the company. Demonstrate your resilience, how you have met various responsibilities and the key goals you have achieved. 

RELATED: How to negotiate salary and get the pay rise you deserve

3. Highlight your achievements and value-add 

Highlighting your achievements and value-add is critical during this time. As the world has adjusted to the rapidly changing nature of work, many of the usual in-office achievements and team contributions have been taken on as normal in the need to streamline efforts. 

Show how you have added to the team and overall company bottom line as much as possible. 

4. Be understanding of the current climate

It’s important to take a step back and understand the impact of COVID-19 across the global economy and the business you are in. 

Building resilience during this time is as crucial to employees as it is to employers. Understanding the role resilience plays in facing setbacks and changing circumstances will add to your perceived value.  

Demonstrate you are resilient and are open to understanding the changing nature of the economic climate. This means showing you understand that the discussion may not go as you hoped, but that you appreciate the opportunity anyway and would like to be considered for a salary increase when the time is right.

5. Remember there are other ways to grow

Be understanding and sensitive to your employer and company’s predicament during this time. Understand that they may not be able to provide a salary increase but may be able to offer other mutually beneficial options and results.

This can range from mentorship programs, upskilling initiatives, training programs and more. In any case, you will be in a better position for another salary review as the downturn changes direction.

If you've tried these steps but feel you'd have better luck with your salary needs at a new employer, search and apply for the latest jobs or speak to one of our specialist recruitment consultants today.

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