37% of employees have initiated discussions with their employers regarding a salary increase. Furthermore, a staggering 80% of Americans has the expectations of receiving a raise, making it an unavoidable topic of conversation in the workplace. 

Here are four tips for how to respond when an employee asks for a raise.  

Do not immediately respond with an answer  

Instead of saying, “I totally agree, you do need a raise!” or “Unfortunately we cannot give you a raise” try not to immediately react or respond. As a supervisor, you may not be able to make a decision without talking to HR or other leaders at your organization first, so just spend this time listening to the employee.  

While the employee is speaking, try to maintain a neutral composure. Try not to look irritated or overly excited while the employee speaks. Remember that your role is to listen to their request and pass on the information to leaders who are able to make that decision.  

Ask follow-up questions  

Once the employee has voiced their desire for a raise, ask them to tell you more. Asking follow-up questions shows the employee that you are listening to them and are curious about why they believe they deserve.  

Be sure to take notes during this conversation so that you can present the ideas clearly to HR and other decision makers later on.  

Some follow up questions to ask include:  

  • How much of a raise are you seeking?  
  • What prompted you to request a pay raise?  
  • Can you elaborate on why you believe you deserve a raise?  
  • Is there anything else you would like to share or discuss regarding your request for a raise?  

When asking these questions, be sure to sound invested and curious in their responses.  Employees want to feel validated and heard, and asking for a raise can be very intimidating, so make sure they feel comfortable during the conversation.  

Take some time to reflect after the meeting  

After you have enough information from the employee, reflect on the conversation and think about some of these questions.  

  1. Does the employee frequently meet or exceed their goals?  
  2. Do they take on more responsibilities beyond their job description? 
  3. Is their current pay competitive? 
  4. Are you providing enough pay and other incentives to retain the employee long-term?  

Reflect on these questions before you discuss the pay raise request with HR and other decision makers. After reflecting on these questions, if you feel like the employee does deserve a pay raise, you should express that. On the other hand, if you do not feel like they deserve a raise, then be sure to voice your opinion to HR.  

How to communicate the final decision 

Whether the employee’s raise request was accepted or declined, try to meet with the employee during a formal one-on-one meeting to deliver the news.  

If the employee’s raise request was granted, consider saying something like, “After reflecting on our conversation and your request for a pay raise, I spoke with HR, and we have decided to increase your current compensation.” Then, express your gratitude for their hard work and how vital they are to the company.  

If the employee’s raise request was declined, consider saying something like, “After careful consideration, management has chosen not to proceed with your request for a raise at this time. However, this decision does not preclude the possibility of a raise in the future.” Then, proceed to give them instructions for what they can do to increase the possibility of a raise.  

Most managers have encountered requests for salary increases from their employees, so it is important to know how to handle that conversation. If you have any questions regarding employee pay raise requests, reach out to us at humanresources@helpside.com