The Washington Post Sunday

What to expect when you’re not expecting a raise

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The holiday season is officially upon us — and with that comes the excitement of holiday parties, bonuses and the promise of raises following annual performanc­e reviews. But what if your employer has decided to skip out on the holiday cheer and forego companywid­e raises this year? Despite the economy being relatively healthy compared to recent years, that’s a reality you should brace yourself for.

Still, not getting a raise this year doesn’t mean your hands are tied. There are still a few tricks to have up your sleeve as you reflect on your performanc­e and look to the future.

Ask intelligen­t, respectful, relevant

questions. Remember, there could be legitimate reasons why raises or bonuses are not being given out this year and, if you find yourself in that situation, it’s OK to ask thoughtful questions. If, for example, it appears to be a cost-saving move because the business is planning to make a big investment in Q1, then you can follow up with a question about whether it would be possible to revisit this conversati­on in Q2.

Schedule a follow-up meeting with

your manager. Most companies have annual (or sometimes more frequent) performanc­e review meetings, and there is usually a script your manager will follow in order to check the box on their end. This is typically when you can expect to find out about bonuses and/or raises. Go one step further and schedule a meeting with your manager following your performanc­e review. Think of it as a debrief of the review where the goal is to present your requests and set up next steps.

Make a wish list in lieu of a raise. One of the most important considerat­ions as you prepare your list of requests is to be reasonable and realistic. If your employer isn’t able to offer raises, they won’t be open to any extravagan­t asks. However, there are certainly legitimate requests you could bring to their attention, including: flexible schedules, taking advantage of learning and developmen­t programs, the chance to participat­e in industry events and trade shows, etc.

Inquire about career pathing discussion­s and promotion opportunit­ies. If a raise or bonus is not in your near future, it doesn’t mean you can’t plan your future at the company. Depending on where you are in your journey with your company, it could be time to up your game at work and begin formal discussion­s around your interest in moving laterally or up within the organizati­on. If you feel the time is right, communicat­e to your manager that you’re motivated and ready for the next step in your career and ask for his/her suggestion­s or recommenda­tions for how to navigate your career pathing discussion­s.

Make plans to revisit the discussion in

2019. Just because it’s not in the cards for the time being doesn’t mean you can’t revisit the discussion in Q1 or even mid-year. As noted earlier, try to get a sense for when it might be appropriat­e to revisit the conversati­on next year and mark it down on the calendar so it’s on your radar. In the meantime, the most important thing you can do is start doing your homework and researchin­g what you’re worth compared to peers as well as the market you’re in. Walk into your next meeting about raises armed with the appropriat­e salary data and informatio­n. This special advertisin­g section was prepared by independen­t writer Deanna Hartley. The production of this section did not involve the news or editorial staff of The Washington Post.

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