Need a Cost of Living Raise? How to Talk to Your Employer

( – Inflation rates soar, making it harder to afford the basics like food and gas. Meanwhile, rent prices are going up, too. An increase in the cost of raw materials even affects homeowners wishing to tackle vital home improvements. Clothing, taxes, and healthcare costs are also going up. With such a big cost of living increase, what about wages?

Because inflation is so steep (currently at 8.2 percent per year), the typical cost of living average (COLA) raise just isn’t cutting it. And with inflation fears taking hold in business, most businesses aren’t automatically handing out COLA raises to keep pace with inflation.

Employees always have the right to ask for a raise, but naturally, they are not entitled to receive one. The employee has to take a risk in asking, understand when to ask for the raise, and appeal to their employer in the right way. If you’re stuck with a small COLA raise that doesn’t match inflation, here’s what you can do.

Gather Your Metrics

Make sure you have an account of all of your recent accomplishments. Hopefully, you can search through your email, locate any client testimonials, and collect data that highlights how you have helped the company and increased profits. If you don’t have one already, start a “brag folder” where you keep important pieces of information like this.

This data shows the value you provide, which makes salary negotiation easier. Consider bullet pointing how you have added value, when, and where to keep it simple. Don’t forget to illustrate where you will take the company in the future.

Check on the Financial Outlook of Your Employer

Some industries suffer more than others when it comes to inflation. If you’re working for a government contractor, they’re likely much less crunched and panicked than an airline. The contractor’s customer’s funds won’t dry up — the government is always flush — while the airline has to deal with the rising costs of airline fuel, airline tickets outpacing the cost of driving or taking the train, and a customer base tired of inconvenience.

In addition to the industry, you should know how to read the room. Is the company experiencing financial distress? Recent layoffs, hiring freezes, spending cutoffs, and sales declines could indicate now may not be an opportune time to ask for a raise. If your company is publicly traded, check out how their stock is doing. If it’s underperforming, that’s also a bad sign.

Investigate Salary Trends

Check out the salary data for jobs similar to yours. Are they paying more? Consider job market, accomplishments, your level of subject matter expertise, and cost of living in your particular area, if you’re required to live in a set location to maintain your employment.

Armed with this info, you can compare those salary trends to the inflation trends to help you target a specific pay increase.

Consider Non-Monetary Benefits Instead of Wage Increase

What would make you happy aside from money? It’s possible your employer might be willing to offer you something else instead, such as improved health insurance coverage, more paid time off, more remote work days (which can cut your commuting costs considerably), more paid family leave, and more.

You can lobby specifically for benefits that will save you money, like health insurance with lower copay, childcare assistance, or one less day in the office. While that’s not a wage increase, it is putting money back in your pocket to combat inflation.

When you finally request your raise, make sure you do so with the appropriate person via a meeting. These meetings should be closed door or on video; while being transparent about salary is becoming more common in the United States, it’s still consider rude to mention salary publicly.

Copyright 2023,