Sunday, July 14th, 2024

Know Your Company’s Salary Structure Before Asking for a Raise

Did you know that many businesses follow salary structures to determine when you’re eligible and how much of a raise will reflect on your next paycheck?

Every company has a salary structure in place. This structure is an essential tool in creating effective employee compensation programs. Having guidelines in place regarding salaries helps the business to stay competitive with its incentives.

While every business has its guidelines in place, it is based on a principle structure. A Pay structure works around two areas: grades, bands, or levels and the scope of each one. For example; within companies pay structure, there may be different categories of employees grouped (managers, clerical staff, and so on). Within each group, there is are levels or grades assigned to individuals that dictate the salary they make.

Groups are comprised of employees with similar job descriptions and skill levels, which is why management would never fall into the same group as the sales department, for example. The pay structure for each group defines how much of an increase in pay and employee may be eligible for and when they are available.

Because of these guidelines in place, you aren’t likely to get a raise unless it’s the right time. If your company offers once annually, then you won’t get a raise after only eight months. Employers won’t have much room for alteration and stick to the companies pay structure to determine what you’re eligible for.

Factors Affecting Pay Structures

There are a ton of factors that affect the group an employee fits under in the structure. There are also many ways that employers offer pay raises. Some use percentages, while others follow a strict dollar amount. There are fixed percentages based on the rate of inflation each year, and others that offer a set increase regardless of inflation, or any other influencing factors.

Some factors that commonly affect wage increases are:

  • Age and experience
  • Employee sector (health care/government, ect…)
  • Unions
  • Certification Increases
  • Promotions

Your rate of pay depends significantly on the position you hold. In the United States, the highest paying positions are anesthesiologists and surgeons, understandably so. In terms of management positions, Computer and Informations Systems managers are the highest paid and Natural Science managers are the lowest.

Determining your employers’ pay structure

Knowing the structure your employer follows is a must if you plan on asking for a raise! Otherwise, you won’t know when you’re eligible or how much you can expect. Keep in mind that your boss has little wiggle room within the companies policies around raises, so their ‘hands are tied’ so to speak.

The best way to keep informed of company policies is to read through your hire package. Every new employee gets an information package that includes the companies salary structure. Any modifications or updates to these policies are shared with employees through contract updates or other written notice.

If you aren’t sure what you’ve done with your hire package then you can always ask your boss for another copy. They won’t have any problem with getting one to you because your boss wants to know that every employee is aware of the policies in place.

What’s next?

Now that you have the information be sure to study and understand everything clearly. If there’s anything you’re unsure of, you have the right to ask your boss to clarify it! Knowing your employers pay structure gives you control over your pay increases because you know your rights. So long as you figure out the rules in place, you know when you’re eligible for what.

Knowing the companies pay practices is an essential tool in asking for a raise. If the method is to offer raises once every six or twelve months, you most likely won’t get an increase at any other time. For companies that provide frequent raises with no set schedule, you shouldn’t worry as much about the timing. Pay attention to anything mentioned about raises! If your boss says that the increases cap at, for example, 3.1%, it’s unlikely you’ll get anything more.

Once you understand the way your company handles increases, you should start preparing to ask your boss. The following information will help you make for your performance review;

Schedule a meeting

Timing is a crucial part of asking for a raise because the last thing to do is ask at the wrong time. Your boss should devote their attention to you entirely. Any outside distractions could affect the outcome.

Timing is a crucial part of asking for a raise because the last thing to do is ask at the wrong time. Share on X

Ask your boss to schedule in some time for your performance review. Make sure to schedule a week or more in advance. Having some time to prepare is essential! You want to build a strong presentation to present during the review.

Take note of any accomplishments since your last review and all the ways you benefit the company. (Raise Guide has an article on how to effectively share your wins.) Don’t mention things like arriving on time, because it’s part of your job description. Instead, mention specific projects or situations with which you have proven yourself. Perhaps, there was a time you helped to motivate co-workers or exceeded in sales. Things like these are worth highlighting.

Make a list of your strengths or benefits you bring to the company. Sitting down and discussing the ways that are valuable and the areas with which you shine. Write down any savings, productivity improvement, staff development, and other things you contribute. Having documentation of these strengths will help you to earn your raise successfully.

During the review

When the time for your review finally comes, be sure to handle yourself appropriately. Doing so will make you much more likely to be successful in getting your raise.

How to communicate effectively

Effective communication skills make a world of difference in this kind of situation! But how can you communicate in a practical way?

  • Speak calmly
  • Speak slowly and clearly
  • Allow your employer time to speak
  • Listen and repeat back anything of importance
  • Be open to constructive criticism
  • Never appear upset or hostile
  • Body Language

Body language is a useful communication tool too! Make sure that your posture is tall, but not pin-straight. Sit towards your employer and look them in the eyes during your conversation. Looking down or away from your boss signals that you’re nervous or not being honest.

How to ensure you always get a raise

Just because your company has a salary structure in place doesn’t mean that you always get a raise! You have to demonstrate that you deserve an increase. There are several ways to continually show that you’re a valuable employee and guarantee that you always get your raise when the time comes.

Proven ethics

The kind of work ethic you demonstrate daily is one of the things an employer notice. Being on time, or early every day, staying until your tasks are complete, proactively participating in meetings or at staff events. These are all things that your boss notes.

Make sure to take notes when your boss verbally gives instructions. This behavior ensures that you always complete tasks correctly, just the way your boss wants! Be friendly and outgoing at all times, even if personal issues have got you down. Leave outside problems out of your workday! Be sure to strictly focus on work-related goings-on while in the office.

Keep yourself busy during the day even if there’s no work at the moment. If you’ve hit a slow patch, help out around the office. Ask your boss if there’ anything extra they would like you to do. By proactively offering to take on additional tasks you show that you’re a dedicated employee who’s willing to work.


Consistent workflow is a must! Be sure to hand in work in a timely matter, every time. Aim to turn any tasks in the day before it’s due that way you know you’ll always make deadlines. Work quickly but be sure that everything is reviewed for accuracy.

Never rely on coworkers to relay instruction about a project! Always get directions directly from your boss. That way, you know that you have everything correctly. Coworkers could have easily been mistaken and asking them for instructions means making the same mistakes they do.

Customer relations

Building strong relations with your customers or clients is always productive. Keep an honest and open relationship by following through on any promises. Always listen to your client’s complaints and do your best t resolve them in a way that makes the client feel assured. After all, every company relies on customers of some kind to make money. And, if your company isn’t making money then you can forget about getting your raise.

That concludes our guide to knowing your company’s salary structure before asking for a raise. The most important thing to keep in mind is that you should always be informed of any policies in place at work. Knowing the rules means that you won’t have to worry about making a mistake and asking for a raise too soon.

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What to do next?

This is just one step in getting paid what you're worth. Master this topic and everything you need to get the raise you deserve. Get our full Ask Guide to know how, when and how much to ask for.

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