Would you have to be absolutely insane to ask for a raise at this time? I say yes. Workplace authority John Challenger says "Go for It!"
Now let's look at this realistically. The economy is showing no signs of a rebound. Corporate costs are rising. Layoffs have increased significantly and heavy job cutting is just beginning. However, most of us are being asked to do more with less in our workplaces. We are struggling to balance a personal life with our heavy workloads. We should get a raise if we earn it, should we?
Challenger insists, "Those who can prove that they are an integral part of an organization's ability to survive the downturn and thrive during the next expansion have nothing to lose by asking." If you are going to ask for a raise, he advises entering the meeting with your boss with a well-thought-out justification for an increase in salary. It should be based solely on your performance, whether it exceeded goals, created money-saving strategies or brought in new business. He says to support your points with numbers and specific examples and be prepared to answer questions or objections. Even if you get turned down, you might be able to negotiate some other benefit, he says.
Of course, you now are wondering what is the average pay raise these days. For most American workers, pay raises have averaged about 3.8 percent in 2008, virtually unchanged from 2007, according to new survey data from Mercer. My company has announced it will freeze all pay raises for the next year. So, if you get even 1 percent, you're way ahead of anyone on my company's payroll.
From my viewpoint, it's a gamble. Few industries provide real job security right now. Do you dare risk your job by asking for a raise? What about asking for a performance bonus? Should you scale back on your workload if there is no chance of a raise anytime in the future?