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How to Professionally Deny a Raise Request
(Without Killing Employee's Motivation)

by Alana Downer

July 14 2017 - When an employee comes to you for a raise, it often takes a lot of courage to actually get up and ask the question. The thing is, due to numerous reasons, you might not be ready or willing to increase their salary yet. However, communicating this to an employee is a very difficult and delicate matter. They may not be ready to hear a negative response, and if they do, it may kill their motivation. Here's how to professionally deny their request and keep them motivated to work hard.

Start on a positive note

Although you are going to say no, it always helps to deliver bad news by starting with a positive response. A great start here is to compliment their skills. For example, you could thank them for the hard work that they put in for the company, or commend their work on a recent project. This helps to let the employee know that you do value them and their input. You're not necessarily turning them down because they don't deserve a raise, but rather because you are not in a position to offer one.

Discuss and consider the raise

Before leaping into a negative answer, first take some time to consider the raise. If you give them a no straight out, you will make them feel that their work is not valued. You could end up losing them to a rival company or seeing their productivity drop. Find out why they feel they deserve a raise. It might also be prudent to ask them to put this in writing, as this will provide proof that you have given due consideration to their request. You might actually find on consideration that they do deserve a raise, and that you have no reason not to give them one. Giving a pay raise in view of good performance is a great way to motivate your employees.

Explain everything carefully

When giving them a no, don't just say their request has been denied and leave it at that. They will walk out of your office feeling like you don't care about them at all. Instead, take the time to talk them through the situation. It could be that their department has not contributed enough to turnover over the last couple of years, or that profits as a whole are down, or that it is too close to their last raise. When you explain the reasoning behind your answer, you actually give the employee motivation to change the situation. You may end up with a workforce which is more productive and is giving you better results because they want to make sure the company does well enough to justify future raises.

Offer a potential future raise

Never offer an employee a set amount of money or set date for their next raise. This will set you up for a fall if you cannot follow through on that agreement in the future. Instead, you should let them know that there may be a possibility for a raise in the future, and that they are welcome to bring the subject up with you again in a few months if they wish to. It's also important to underline that you will offer raises to your employees as and when you feel that they are deserved – they don't have to be asked for. This will help them to feel that you are thinking about it.

It's never easy to have to be the bad guy and turn someone down for a raise. However, you will be respected more if you are open and honest with your employees, and don't just bend to pressure. On the other end of the scale, you should be prepared to reward hard work when it is justified.

About the author

Alana Downer is an avid blogger whose interest lie mostly in business and finance. Interested in efficient ways of earning additional income, Alana is often found sharing her tips and tricks on behalf of Learn To Trade, and helping all those who wish to achieve financial independence.


PHR/SPHR

PHR/SPHR: Professional in Human Resources Certification Study Guide

by Sandra M Reed and Anne M. Bogardus
Must-have preparation for those looking to take the PHR or SPHR certification exams in order to strengthen their resume.
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PHR Study Guide 2017

PHR Study Guide 2017: PHR Certification Test Prep and Practice Questions for the Professional in Human Resources Exam

Think all PHR®/SPHR® study guides are the same? Think again! With easy to understand lessons and practice test questions designed to maximize your score, you'll be ready.
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The Future of Human Resource Management

The Future of Human Resource Management: 64 Thought Leaders Explore the Critical HR Issues of Today and Tomorrow

Edited by Mike Losey, Dave Ulrich, Sue Meisinger
  Like its bestselling predecessor before it, this offers the very best thinking on the future of HR from the most respected leaders in the field.
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