Don’t Expect a Big Raise This Year: Ask for These Perks Instead
By Jeffrey Strain
Getting a raise at work continues to be difficult, and it doesn’t appear that it’s going to be any easier in the next few years. According to the April edition of the quarterly survey from the National Association of Business Economics (NABE), nearly 80% of the seventy-two businesses which participated in the survey expect little wage growth over the next few years. These businesses expect wage growth between 0% to 3% over the next three years. While these numbers won’t get workers jumping for joy, they are actually better numbers than workers have seen the past few years. After adjusting for inflation, wages for workers in private industry shrank by 0.7% from 2011 to 2013 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
With the prospect of getting a big wage increase diminished this year, it doesn’t mean that you can’t get some type of compensation when it comes to your yearly review. In fact, being flexible and asking for something other than a raise can actually benefit you much more financially than simply getting a raise. Here are a few things that you can ask for when a raise is not an option.
Increased Vacation Days
If you don’t get the raise you want, ask for an increase in vacation days as an alternative. This can be an easy way for your boss to keep you happy without having to actually increase your salary. While many countries (New Zealand, Italy, Belgium, France, Spain, Germany, Portugal, and Austria) offer 30 paid vacation days or more per year to employees, the United States doesn’t legally require businesses to offer any paid vacation days or paid holidays. This means that paid vacation can be a premium benefit, especially if you have just started your career. Paid vacation days are as valuable, if not more so, than an increase in pay, and you don’t get taxed for it as you would on a raise.
Sometimes an effective way to get the equivalent of a raise is to disguise it as something else. If your company has decided that they aren’t going to give raises, ask instead for something like a transportation reimbursement for your commute. The cost of your commute to work and back home can be expensive, especially with rising gas prices. While you won’t see an increase in your salary if you get a transportation reimbursement, you still will have money going into your pocket. While it’s not a raise per se, it’s a de facto raise that’s simply called something else since you were paying for it with your own money before.
Another creative way to get a de facto raise is to convince the company to help pay for your further education. Often this is an easy sell because the company can see how your further education would benefit them as well. Even better, more education will often lead to a promotion with a higher salary down the line. If you can’t get the raise that you want today, ask for educational reimbursements so you can get a higher paying job in the future.
Office and Computer Upgrades
Another perk that you can ask for, instead of a raise, is office and computer upgrades. Securing a larger office cubicle can make a huge difference in your work environment, and make working at your job a lot more enjoyable. In the same sense, getting a new computer with upgraded software that works better than the one you currently have can make you more efficient. While neither of these will put more money directly into your pocket, they can make your work life a lot more enjoyable, and they’re often easier to obtain than a raise.
A More Flexible Schedule
More important to many people than the money that they’re making, is having flexibility in the times that they come to work. Being able to work on a flexible schedule gives you the opportunity to arrange your life more the way you want rather than having to work a strict 9-to-5 schedule. It can also save you a lot of money in other ways. By avoiding commuter traffic, you can save money on gas. You may be able to get your children into less expensive day care by having a more flexible schedule. Asking for a flexible schedule can be a great alternative if a raise isn’t possible.
By thinking creatively, you should be able to come up with something that will benefit you while not making your company increase your salary. The mere fact that you’re willing to be flexible will usually come across to your boss as you being a team player, and you may be surprised at what you can get with this creativity. In the end, if you already know that a raise is not a possibility, it doesn’t hurt to ask for these other perks that may end up being even more valuable to you in the long run.