asking-for-raise.jpgGals! If you don’t think you’re worth more money why would anyone else think you’re worth more money?

I just read two reports this morning about employees and their expectations for raises this year, and it turns out male workers are pretty optimistic.

One study released this week by Adecco Staffing found that:

Men are more confident than women that a bonus, raise or promotion is in their future. More than half of all men (52 percent) expect to ask for OR receive a raise, bonus or promotion at work in 2012, compared to just 37 percent of women.

And jobs website Glassdoor reported earlier this month that:

Men (42 percent) remain more optimistic than women (33 percent) when it comes to the possibility for a pay raise in the next 12 months. In terms of company outlook in the next six months, more men indicated optimism than women (41 percent of men compared to 38 percent of women), which is consistent with previous surveys.

Why the disparity? Maybe women are more realistic about the economy and what their employers can dish out. Or maybe they just don’t think they deserve it.

Yes, the economy is tough, but many corporations are sitting on piles of cash right now. Just last week Apple reported it made nearly $50 billion sales in the fourth quarter, blowing away analyst estimates. Ford Motor Company reported its 11th straight profitable quarter, and Procter & Gamble beat estimates for it’s fourth-quarter earnings per share.

It’s time for workers, women and men, to demand more money in their paychecks. But why should these fat and happy employers hire more workers? You guys are doing the work of two or three employees these days, and you’re not asking for more money.

I know, workers are running scared thanks to employers who want you all running scared because if you are, you won’t ask for more money and you won’t complain that you’re doing too much work.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics most recent report on worker productivity showed:

Unit labor costs in nonfarm businesses fell 2.5 percent in the third
quarter of 2011, reflecting the 2.3 percent increase in output per hour
combined with a 0.2 percent decline in hourly compensation.

You’re doing more for less and such artificial boosts to productivity keep wages down. I discussed this topic on NPR Talk of the Nation a while back.

It’s time to let your boss know how hard you’re working and it’s also time to ask for your share!

Coincidentally, the Department of Labor held a press briefing today calling for software developers to come up with apps that can be used to educate people about the pay gap in this country.

This from the DOL:

The Equal Pay App Challenge calls on developers to use publicly available data and resources to create innovative, easy-to-use apps that educate users about the pay gap and provide tools to combat it. The apps should improve the accessibility of pay data broken down by gender, race and ethnicity, and provide coaching on early career pay, pay negotiation or career mentorship. More information, including a complete list of the contest’s rules and requirements, is available at http://www.challenge.gov/labor.

“Today’s employers and employees are more resourceful and technologically savvy than ever before, but too many remain unaware of how the pay gap affects them,” said White House Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra. “By encouraging developers to help us solve this problem, we’re leveraging the unique ability of the federal government to provide mountains of valuable data as well as the innovation power of the private sector.”

Pay gaps stay gaps if you don’t get raises people. I’m not saying women are to blame for the pay gap. I know there’s still rampant discrimination out there. But we’re not helping ourselves if we don’t at least try and get what we deserve.

Here are some tips to get guys and gals started:

1. Timing is key

If your company has just filed for bankruptcy, it’s probably not a great time to ask for a raise. But if your company is doing well, there’s no better time to ask for more money.

“The best time to ask for a raise is shortly after an accomplishment,” said Lauren Herring, president of Impact Group, a career management firm. “Most employees wait for a review period, but the best time to do it is right after you do something really great, or right after you get kudos.”
And don’t underestimate the importance of a good state of mind.

“The manager should be in a position to be interested in, and prepared to, provide you with a raise,” said Lynda Zugec, managing director of The Workforce Consultants “Catching him or her in a good mood can only prove helpful to your efforts as well.”

Another factor to consider is whether hiring is going on and how easy it is to find employees like you.

“One indicator that you might be in a good negotiating position is if your current employer is finding it challenging to hire other people to work on your immediate team,” advised Ian Ide, a partner with staffing firm Winter, Wyman’s New York technology unit.

2. What are you worth?

There’s nothing worse than going into a negotiation without knowing what you want. It undermines your request for more money, and it can
undermine your courage.

“Confidence is key,” noted Tamryn Hennessy, national director of career development for Rasmussen College. “A frugal manager can smell
weakness, so it’s important that you come in prepared for anything. You can accomplish [your aims] by doing your research. Use tools like
Salary.com or Payscale.com to know what your position pays in the marketplace.”

And be reasonable with your request.

Robert Stack, president and CEO of Community Options, an advocacy group for the disabled, had an employee come in and offer him this proposal:
“I propose that you increase my pay and give me less responsibility.”

Stack told him he was ridiculous, and that “added responsibility comes with greater pay.” The employee didn’t get a raise and the request hurt his
reputation.

In another scenario that worked out better, a human resource employee came to Stack and made a case for her raise by pointing out that she was able
to reduce workers compensation claims through better safety and better reporting measures.

“I gave her a significant increase,” Stack said.

3. Sing your praises

The biggest mistake employees make is not keeping managers abreast of how they’re contributing to the company.

It’s OK to send a memo to your managers telling them what you’ve accomplished, said Susan Gallagher, chief operating officer of True Partners
Consulting, a tax advisory group. She said the company refers to them as “hero memos.”

“You have to communicate your contributions,” she continued, adding that women in particular have a hard time being vocal when it comes to their
successes at work.

And be specific.

“One of our marketing coordinators who had been with the company for about a year came in and asked what we could do for him,” explained Dan
Wesley, president of CreditLoan.com. “He pointed out the number of clients he had gained since joining the company, by far the highest among those who were recently hired,” he added.

“He also had been very helpful with administrative tasks in the office, always looking to lend a hand to whatever project needed to get done.”

“I granted his request for a raise immediately,” Wesley said.

4. Be charming

When it comes to salary negotiations use your best people skills, advises Matthew Rothenberg, editor of job site TheLadders.com.

“It’s important that you don’t put your boss in a position where he or she will lose face, and it is best to be genuinely interested in your boss and try to
see things from their point of view,” he said. “By rehearsing the conversation beforehand, you will avoid confrontation, and the discussion regarding
the raise will feel casual, allowing your boss to relax and be more open to hearing what you have to say.”

Asking for a raise can be a lot like asking for a date, explained Matt Wallaert, a behavioral psychologist with GetRaised.com, a site that helps
determine if employees are being paid fairly.

“How you feel you’re doing in your job and how your boss feels can be very different,” he said. “Keep the conversation fact based, not emotional.”
Sharing too much personal information is also a no-no.

Seth Rabinowitz, a junior partner at management consulting firm Silicon Associates, had one employee ask him for money because he was having
personal problems, which he shared in detail.

Rabinowitz gave him a raise and an advance because, he said, “the human side of me was touched, but it changed our work relationship forever.”

5. Walk away

Sometimes your best efforts will come to nothing and — depending on your financial situation and your own ego — you may have to make some
tough choices.

“There may be instances where you decide that you have to just walk away,” said Mary Greenwood, a human resources director and author of “How
to Negotiate Like a Pro.”

If the boss is not willing to give you the raise you think you deserve “you may decide that this is not the boss or the company you want to work for
anymore,” she added.

But don’t leave your job in anger, and make sure you have a backup plan, Greenwood stressed: “It is the conventional wisdom that it is harder to find a job when you no longer have one.”

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