You want a pay rise? Here’s how to get one in 2024

More than four out of five businesses are planning to raise employee wages this year as the cost of living continues to rise. Here’s how to lead negotiations.

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Written and reviewed by:
Helena Young

With inflation still eating into hard-earned pay cheques, a pay rise might feel as likely as a New Year’s wish for UK employees. But as it turns out, bosses are still open to raising salaries in the current economic climate.

In a survey of 546 UK businesses, conducted at the end of last year, Startups uncovered that 82% of companies plan to raise employee wages in the next 12 months.

Companies are waking up to the financial pressures on workers and the fierce competition in today’s tight labour market. 71% of firms feel confident they can meet employee pay expectations, signalling a commitment to attracting and retaining talent this year.

Below, we offer a practical guide to tabling the motion for a wage rise in 2024. Armed with hard facts and clear data, we’ll explain how to land the raise you deserve and how much to ask for.

How to ask for a pay rise in 2024

We are famously bad at talking about money in the UK, particularly when it comes to our earnings. Salary is a subject that is thornier than most. Certainly, it feels nerve-wracking to breach it with a manager.

Still, requesting a raise is a professional conversation, not a confrontation. You are far more likely to arrive at a solution you and your employer are happy with if you approach it like any other work request: with plenty of planning.

Here are five ways to approach to improve your chances of receiving a raise this year:

1. Know your worth

When calculating your dream wage, it’s important to dive deeper than an off-the-cuff survey of your colleagues. The most accurate results are obtained by industry benchmarking. 

Examine data that impacts salary weightings like industry, location, experience level, and company size. Use multiple sources for greater precision, such as professional networks, industry reports, and even anonymous employee platforms like Glassdoor.

2. Go face-to-face

Skip the Slack ping. Demonstrate you are serious about the subject by scheduling a formal meeting with your manager, or raising it during a relevant occasion such as a performance review.

Remember to choose your timing wisely. Avoid busy trading periods or times when the company might be facing financial difficulties, as this is more likely to result in a negative response from management.

3. Quantify your achievements

Make it easier for managers to review your case by turning your good deeds into quantifiable data. Gather metrics like sales figures, KPIs met, or positive client feedback. Be specific about what you have achieved since your last pay review

Having this evidence to hand will add punch to your case, demonstrating your value beyond subjective claims, and also make it harder for the employer to pose any potential arguments against a raise.

4. Transparency matters

If you are a freelancer or sole trader, it’s a good idea to consistently examine your pricing strategy to evaluate whether your costs might need to increase. This is a perfectly valid measure to take, particularly as demand grows for your services.

Still, it’s crucial that clients don’t feel blindsided. Give plenty of warning, and emphasise the added value you bring them. Consider offering a temporary discount to ease them into the new charges as a goodwill gesture.

5. Find win-win solutions

Companies have budgets and constraints. If you become attached to a specific figure and do not allow for wriggle room, you might find yourself stuck in a deadlock.

Prepare several remuneration options you would accept that align with the company’s budget and priorities. These might look like alternative employee benefits, a phased salary increase, or defined additional responsibilities you might take on as a result of the increase.

How much of a raise should I ask for?

Last year, a shortage of skilled labour across all sectors saw many organisations inflate salaries as a way to entice job hunters. Following months of record increases, this pace has since slowed as wage growth becomes impossible for cash-strapped firms to maintain.

The Startups survey also asked respondents how much they plan to increase employee salaries by in order to match pay demands. Based on the results, while demands for higher wages might persist, extreme spikes in salaries are unlikely to become widespread.

The majority of bosses anticipate increases between 4-6% in the year ahead. This figure aligns with the current economic climate, where companies seek to balance employee needs with budgetary constraints.

Notably, the range slightly surpasses the latest inflation rate of 3.9%. This suggests that the need to remain competitive in the war for talent, and motivate existing staff, surpasses financial concerns for some firms.

Salary risePercentage of respondents
Increase by 1-3%25%
Increase by 4-6%29%
Increase by 7-9%14%
Increase by 10%12%
Increase by 11%+2%
I do not plan to raise employee wages18%

Hidden factors affecting your salary raise

Startups’ survey also highlights pockets of significant salary growth. For a fortunate 14% of employees, a raise of 10% or more is on the cards this year.

Multiple factors contribute to whether a business can afford to swell its labour costs. It is important to be aware of external or cultural factors that might affect the outcome of your request for a bigger bite of the wage cake.

Financial performance is an obvious influencer. During a period of downturns or low profitability, such as in today’s economy, raises might be less likely due to stricter budgets.

Location and sector is another. Salaries within your industry and for similar roles in your geographic area can also sway what the company considers a fair compensation, which is why industry benchmarking is so important when submitting a request.

Some companies might also have established pay review schedules or specific criteria for awarding raises, while others might be more flexible in their approach.

Getting a raise is a two-way conversation. By understanding the factors involved and approaching the negotiation strategically, employees can significantly increase your chances of securing the compensation they deserve – while keeping managers and bosses happy.

Written by:
Helena Young
Helena is Lead Writer at Startups. As resident people and premises expert, she's an authority on topics such as business energy, office and coworking spaces, and project management software. With a background in PR and marketing, Helena also manages the Startups 100 Index and is passionate about giving early-stage startups a platform to boost their brands. From interviewing Wetherspoon's boss Tim Martin to spotting data-led working from home trends, her insight has been featured by major trade publications including the ICAEW, and news outlets like the BBC, ITV News, Daily Express, and HuffPost UK.

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