You’ve behaved yourself all year. You’ve worked hard and been fantastically conscientious. So what does the company you’ve broken your back for give you in return? A measly, less-than-inflation pay rise, that’s what. It’s time to get a grip and map out all your options. Rediculous pay rise? Please don't yell "bastards"!
Swallow hard and fight back the tears
If you’ve just been handed a letter, detailing your percentage pay rise (as is normally the case with lily-livered management strategies these days), resist the urge to yell “bastards!”, once you’ve calculated that your rise amounts to £10 per month, before tax. Practise deep breathing and go and hide in the toilets until you’ve calmed down.
Decide whether to do something about it
If you feel genuinely aggrieved that you have been let down, then it’s a good idea to say something about it. You may be able to secure a promise of a bigger rise next time, but first make sure you…
Do some super sleuthing
Before you rush in to see your boss all guns blazing, find out just how personal this rise is. Is it across the board company policy to give only 2% this year? Are you being singled out? Try to find out what sort of rise your colleagues got so that you can gauge exactly how to approach this tricky subject.
Go and see your boss
You’ll need to get psyched up for this one, particularly if your boss is scarier than the Childcatcher. Be sure to rehearse your speech in front of the bathroom mirror. There’s no point being cocky about just how much you’re worth because you may be shown the door. Get across how committed you are to the company, but how you also need a higher salary in order to pay the mortgage, raise your family, holiday in the Maldives (well, maybe not that last one…).
Be prepared to negotiate
Yes, keep calm and try to avoid mentioning the large wad your boss gets for half the workload and several rounds of golf. It may be the case that he would really like to give you a higher pay rise but that his hands are tied (although watch for the fact that this is a well-honed turn of phrase in pay rise situations). So be smart and ask for a car allowance or an increase in your existing one, or perhaps a bonus or larger expense account to make up for the shortfall in your pay packet. It may be that you will be able to earn a few extra sovs through the back door, so to speak, without affecting the pay scale hierarchy.
Learn to network
Perhaps you like the company and want to stay there but think it’s time for an internal move? Then start hanging out with the movers and shakers. Find out where they drink and start the ball rolling. Once you’ve found out exactly who you need to speak to, move in for the kill. Either that or make an appointment with the Human Resources department – though be prepared for your current boss being told the exact content of your ‘in confidence’ conversation.
It may be hard to accept but life is unfair. We can’t all be Richard Rodgers, Tom Bloxham or Noel Edmonds. Deal with it. It’s just one of life’s many bitter pills.
Take a break
Go on, book some holiday and take some time out to think about your future. It’s remarkable what a week in the Virgin Islands can do for your health. Better still, don’t bother booking a return.
Look for a new job
This is what you do when it becomes apparent that your boss doesn’t give a fig about your pay rise and is not going to do anything about it. Just don’t make it obvious that you are frantically looking for something else. Be subtle about it and don’t tell colleagues, however trustworthy they may seem. There’ll always be one who’s after your job.
Cut back to a no-frills lifestyle
If you were relying on your pay rise to help you buy something expensive or move house, then it’s time to learn to live more frugally. If you find it hard to do so, pretend you’re living through a world war and stock up on corned beef and powdered egg. This means you’ve also got a nine o’clock curfew, so long hours in the pub are totally out of the question.