In the defence forces, remuneration is standardised with a 6% increase over a 3-year period. Which is about 2% each year and in line with increases to the national Average Weekly Earnings.
In the Kinexus 2018 salary survey, there was a reported average increase of 4.4% over a one-year period across private defence organisations. So why is this higher than the ADF and overall national average? There are probably a few reasons for this, including unstandardised pay rates, increasing investment in the industry, technical focus of most roles and the project orientated nature of the industry.
However, it’s also because people simply asked for increased pay.
Many ex-defence employees assume a salary increase will come around on its own, but in general, organisations won’t give salary increases above inflation (or sometimes at all) unless the raise has been asked for and negotiated.
Overall, the principles of a pay increase in public or private companies are not all that dissimilar. Most pay rises come around, or are appropriate to ask for when there has been a notable jump in time in service or the level of duties being performed. The difference lies in the need to proactively ask for an increase when you work for a private industry employer.
For help going through the processes for the first (or hundredth!) time, here is a quick guide to asking for a pay rise.
Pay increases are all about timing. Whether it’s part of a regular review process or initiated at your request. Often success will be based on timing factors more than anything else. Some of these factors include:
Budget planning. Don’t raise the topic right after the budget has been set for the next financial year. In the lead up to the year’s budget planning can be a good time.
Stepping stones such as a shift in responsibilities or a work anniversary will provide excellent context for the conversation.
Company success. Pay attention to how the company is tracking and choose a time when you know the company has increased its profits or is doing well overall to increase your chances of them approving a raise.
Formulate your reasons. If you are asking for a pay rise, your employer wants to know why they should give it to you. Collate your thoughts on why you deserve it and your value to the organisation, including:
Achievements and contributions to the company (preferably quantified).
Evidence of positive feedback or client reviews.
Any changes to your role and/or increases in responsibility.
The industry average for the role (if relevant).
The award rate for the role (if relevant).
Anything you agreed when previously discussing salary, such as a promise to review in 6 months.
Make sure you print a copy for any face to face meetings so you have reasons in hand.
Define what you are asking for. When asking for a pay rise, always ask for a specific number or percentage increase on your current salary. Formulate this by thinking about the things you’ve achieved and responsibility changes, salary trends in the industry, and how the company is performing. Know what your ideal outcome is, and your bottom line (the least you will happily accept) so that you have some negotiation room that still feels like a win. Make sure you broaden your definition outside of simple income. If a pay increase isn’t possible, other factors on the table might include professional development spend, annual leave days, superannuation and flexible working arrangements.
Tailor your communication style to your audience. It is important to tailor your communication strategy to the person you will be asking the pay increase from. What are their decision-making characteristics? Do they like to hear all the facts, or do you need to appeal to their softer side? What is important to them and how do they define success?
Send your thoughts in advance. To avoid catching your manager unawares, let them know you would like a salary review meeting. Consider sending them a copy of your thoughts, and set a meeting date for a week’s time. This will give them time to review all the information and consider their options.
Always be professional. No matter what.
Make it clear you are loyal to the organisation and that a pay rise is a long-term investment in you as an employee. This might involve explaining what your short, medium and long-term goals are within the organisation or how your role may grow.
Don’t provide mixed messages. If you need to present a hard and fast confident proposal concerning your salary increase, make sure your body language and the words you use match this message.
Be prepared for the answer to be ‘no’ or ‘not right now’ and plan what you are going to say or how you are going to act if this is the case. If you truly believe you deserve the raise and you are asking for a reasonable amount, you can respectfully comment that you are disappointed with the outcome and ask for their decision justification. Ask them when they are willing to reassess in the future.
Approaching your manager for a pay rise can be a daunting task, but if you don’t ask, you don’t get. Although many ex-defence employees may have never gone through this process before, it is achievable and there are ways to smooth the process. Follow this simple guide to make the most of your next salary review process.