Pay review advice for recruiters

You can make your employees happy and ensure you aren't taken for a ride along the way.

Whether the pay rise is accepted or rejected, you can make sure your employee continues to work hard after your decision has been made.

Pay reviews give you the opportunity to reward and offer incentives. Your employee may have shown significant improvement or their job responsibilities may have exceeded their original job description.

Alternatively, they may have under-performed or have had disciplinary issues. Whatever the case, the review will be based on company and personal objectives and whether these have been met in a specified timeframe.


After you have agreed to the review and set a date, there are a few things you can do to prepare for the meeting:

  • Research the market value of the job by talking to your HR department, recruitment consultant or checking the appointments pages or salary surveys on the internet.
  • Analyse your employee's progress by referring back to past performance appraisals and pay reviews.
  • Compare the objectives and goals set with his actual performance.
  • Don't rely on performance from the immediate past. Check that he/she has been consistent and enthusiastic throughout the entire period since the last review
  • A few questions could help you analyse their progress:
    • Have they taken on extra responsibility, put in extra hours?
    • What special projects have they implemented?
    • How quickly have they responded to special requests and urgent tasks?
    • Are they professional in appearance and manner?
    • Have they brought added value to the company by applying useful skills or saved the company money in some way?

The review

Hopefully, your employee will come prepared for the meeting with a justification as to why they think they deserve a salary increase. If they come without a clear focus, it will be up to you to take control of the meeting. Clarify current salary and the salary they would like to earn.

Do not make any promises at this stage, especially if you have to confer with another party such as the Finance Director or Personnel department. Ask your employee why they think they deserve the raise. If they find this difficult, you can cover the areas you researched before the review, asking them how they believe they have exceeded their original job description or objectives.

Ask them to show evidence of their claims in order to validate the justification. Listen and write down the answers for you to refer to later. Keep the meeting light and positive, it can be daunting for the employee.

Outline the next steps of the procedure - you may want time to consider the claim further, or speak to colleagues. Also, give a commitment, if you can, as to when you should have an answer. Arrange another meeting for this.

During the interim period between the review and the final meeting, go through the points raised in the meeting and consider whether the employee's request is justified (sooner rather than later). You may feel that their request is reasonable and deserving.

You may want to meet them halfway, or refuse the request altogether. It's often more cost-effective to retain your current member of staff (unless they are proving to be counter-productive) than it would to hire a new one. Work this out. It could be more beneficial to pay the requested rise than to find yourself with a disgruntled employee who will soon decide to seek his 'worth' elsewhere.

People can become disheartened if they receive a salary they feel is below their worth, and can cease to be motivated. What are your priorities? Think about the medium and long-term consequences of your decision.

Awarding a rise

Granting a pay rise that you know will be well accepted is a positive activity. However, it's vital to ensure your employee continues to work hard! If someone asks for a decent rise, and receives it immediately, there's a real danger they may become complacent and lack the drive to continue performing well. While in the review itself, if you know you are ultimately going to give your employee what they want, then before you inform them, stress the importance of earning their pay. Talk about the need to maintain high performance standards. Maybe set higher future targets. Try to provide fresh projects or responsibilities to keep them motivated. You could bring forward a performance appraisal to show your continued interest after the pay review. Then tell them.

Declining a rise

Refusing to give someone the pay rise they have requested can leave you and your employee feeling unhappy. If you are turning down the request because you feel it is unjustified, and the employee walks away feeling dejected, they may just decide to up and leave.

Without capitulating, you must weigh up whether the cost of hiring and training someone new would be better than paying the rise. Or, while declining the request, encourage your employee to stay. Explain carefully and diplomatically how they can improve and how you can help this improvement. Reaffirm their worth to the company and if necessary, set a date for a revaluation.

Throughout this period, provide support and offer advice in order to keep them on the right track and stay motivated and loyal to the company. If your encouragement pays off, you'll be more than happy to award a rise at a future date.

What if your employee reacts negatively to your decision, or threatens to leave? Remember why you made the decision in the first place. It's a little like a candidate handling a counter-offer from their current employer when handing in their notice. If you change your mind and award the rise after all, in order to placate your employee, will the reasons you originally turned down the request remain?

Chances are, yes. Stick to your guns. Trust your judgement. That's why it's imperative you consider the implications before delivering your decision. If you really feel the rise is not warranted, but can do without the cost of recruiting and training, perhaps a nominal rise as a 'gesture' might do the trick.

It may be your employee had no idea they were not performing to the standards required. A little bit of direction might turn them round, and turn a negative situation into a positive one.

Pay rises should not be begrudged. A pay rise is not just in recognition of past achievement, it's an investment in the future and in staff retention. It makes your employees feel valued, appreciated and keen to develop their careers within your company. This in turn motivates them to perform better and increases company productivity.

Article kindly provided by Jenrick CPI