Careers advice > Money and legal > Negotiating a pay rise after the credit crunch

Negotiating a pay rise after the credit crunch

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Asking for a pay rise is always a tricky subject, and with the effects of the recent credit crunch still being felt by a lot of businesses, it can be even more difficult. We may be coming out of recession, but does your manager appreciate that?

The trick is to make your manager want to keep you. Are you good at getting them to value you as a person, rather than just a number on a payroll? Do you stand out from the others as a good employee worth your weight in wine?


We work in an industry in which staff switch roles and change employers frequently. Last year, hotel, catering and leisure employers had a 34% turnover rate, according to the CIPD. So you need to be able to prove to your employer that they’re better off keeping you than you going off to find a new job paying more.

Know your worth

The first thing to find out is how much you’re worth. has a great salary checker, which will help you work out what your job should be paying. If you’re already earning as much as people doing a similar job, you have to be realistic about how much you think you’re likely to get – and how much effort you’ll need to put in to get it. If you’re going to ask for more than your peers, you’ll need a good reason.

Get your business head on

Any good manager will recognise talent — and talent deserves reward. Try coming up some good ideas in meetings with your manager; have you had a good idea about how the bar could be better run, for example? Or have you thought about how a change to the way food is prepared could save your employer money? Let them know!

Ideas can be brought up in informal meetings or as part of your regular appraisal. And it’s in your appraisal that you should bring up the subject of a rise – as opposed to in a letter or email, which is essentially a one way communication.

Think about whether there have been any significant changes in the business; have they been doing particularly well recently? Has a member of staff left; or are they doing particularly badly at the moment? All of these affect whether it’s the right time to ask. The national economic situation may be improving, especially with the City smiling at the new government, but if bookings are down, then maybe it’s worth hanging on for a bit.


When suggesting a rise, think about how much you’d love to get; then think about how much you’d be happy to settle for. And your manager will probably not be able to offer you anything straight away. In the subsequent meeting, like any big decision, you may find it better not to agree or disagree straight away – ask to go away and consider the offer, then sleep on it.

If the answer is no, then don’t be afraid to ask why – is there something you could be doing differently, for example, or is there a business reason not to give you a rise now? Try to see it from your boss’s point of view – they might be experiencing pressure from their managers to keep costs down which you’re not aware of. But you may be able to ask for something else instead – perhaps access to better perks.

Consider your options

If all this comes to nothing, then you might need to consider whether another employer will value you more – and this would need you to resign. Don’t be surprised if you’re offered a pay rise when you resign. In fact, some companies seem to have a policy, like mobile phone companies when you threaten to leave them, of only offering you something when you force their hand. In cases like these, don’t be proud and turn it down on principle. After all, it’s what you asked for in the first place. But if it doesn’t happen, don’t be surprised – so don’t make up a new job, just in case they call your bluff!


Job searches:

 - Search for hotel jobs
 - Search for restaurant jobs
 - Search for contract catering jobs 
 - Search for pub/bar jobs

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