What should you do if you’re offered a promotion without a raise? – National

in Feb 07, 2019

A job promotion can mean more responsibility, longer hours and contributing more to your company’s bottom line. For these reasons, it’s often paired with a salary increase — but what if more money isn’t part of the offer?

According to a recent study conducted by staffing firm OfficeTeam, 47 per cent of Canadian human resource managers say it’s common for their company to offer a promotion without a raise. That’s a 22 per cent increase from a similar survey conducted in 2011.

The researchers surveyed more than 300 HR managers at Canadian companies with 20 or more employees.

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Fourteen per cent of respondents said the practice is very common, 33 per cent said it’s somewhat common and 20 per cent said it’s not common at all. Just 33 per cent of respondents said that, as a rule, their company will not offer a promotion without a salary increase.

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It’s unclear what’s causing this rise. Rowan O’Grady, president of recruitment agency Hays Canada, says an unpredictable North American economy could be the culprit.

“There’s pressure to respond to requests for a career progression amongst a team, but (employers are) not feeling like they’re in a position where they can really put their money where their mouth is and commit financially,” he told HR Reporter.

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The study also asked Canadian workers if they were willing to accept a promotion that did not include a raise from their company.

Fifty-five per cent of respondents said yes and 45 per cent said no. Included in the poll were more than 1,000 Canadian workers aged 18 and over working full-time in an office setting.

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It can be frustrating if you’re asked to do more work for the same amount of money, says Toronto-based career coach Fiona Bryan.

“If somebody is asking you to [go] over and above your job, there should be over and above compensation,” she says.

Here are some tips for responding to the offer in a constructive way.

Be prepared

It’s helpful to know what your workplace defines as ‘over-performing,’ says Bryan. Ask yourself what you’re doing over and above your basic job description.

“If you’re walking into your performance review and [they offer you a promotion], but they don’t want to pay you any more money, you need to remind them why they want you to take that role,” Bryan says.

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Keeping a list of your ‘over performs’ throughout the year will allow you to easily cite them during the conversation with your employer.

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Ask for time

There’s a difference between a title change that doesn’t impact your job description and one that comes with more responsibility and accountability. For Bryan, determining what kind of offer you’re being given is important — and that will take time.

“I would say, ‘thank you… but I have to make sure this makes sense. I believe I may need more compensation.’”

These tougher, bolder conversations will slow the process down. “You don’t have to say yes right away,” says Bryan. “Make them sweat a little bit. You both want the same thing: for you to be happy in your promotion.”

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Know when the budget is set

It’s not uncommon for an employer to say they can’t offer you more money because the year’s budget is already locked in.

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“Knowing when budgets are set helps you ideally ask for when a performance review should happen,” says Bryan. “If you know the budget is set in September for January, and you get the promotion in February, then you could be waiting a long time [for a performance review].”

A performance review will be a safe space for you to revisit the possibility of a raise.

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Get HR involved

Last but not least, keep a record of everything you talk about with your manager.

“If it is documented that these conversations have been going on, and that you’re going to have a salary conversation in June, for example, then you want that on the record,” Bryan says.

Not only will this hold your employer accountable, but it will ensure that you will revisit your salary in June, even if you get a new boss in that time.

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