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How to navigate conversations about pay in the workplace

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When it comes to your career, knowing how to ask your supervisor for a raise is an important but challenging task. Breaking the taboo associated with talking about money is crucial to progress. Research from a YouGov poll found that a higher proportion of women (60%) have never asked for a pay rise, compared to just 48% of men. 

This comes as further evidence from Indeed found that a staggering 52% of British workers feel they are underpaid. If having these conversations wasn’t stressful enough, the present economic climate, where inflation is at its highest since 1982, makes it difficult for companies to offer a raise, placing another obstacle to overcome. Establishing what employees find most difficult about these conversations and offering guidance on overcoming various challenges, Rethinkly addresses why a staggering one in four (26%) harbour all workplace tension as they find confrontation too difficult.
 
According to Rethinkly’s research, 22% of workers say that verbal communication with bosses and peers is the hardest part of their job suggesting that the root of this issue may be poor communication or a fear of judgement. Rethinkly has found just under one in five (18%) worry that their employees will judge them for making a mistake. It has been found by Accenture Career Capital, that more than three-fourths (77%) of employees who have asked for or negotiated a pay raise have received one as a result. Therefore, despite fears about broaching the conversation, if communicated correctly, the outcome is likely to be positive.
 
Andrew Jackson and David Tinker, co-founders of Rethinkly, list below their top tips for addressing this conversation: 
 
1- Preparation is key 
 
Include a script of what you’re going to say and your arguments for why you believe you should be given a rise, then practice saying it aloud. As a previous study has demonstrated, communication and emotion are intertwined, thus maintaining composure and confidence is key. 
 
When speaking with superiors, fear and worry are common emotions. Research has shown that these negative feelings have an adverse effect on both the speaker’s message and how the listener interprets it. Due to its ability to make you more comfortable with the subject of what you are trying to say, practice helps you control nervousness and project confidence. 
 
 
2- Know your worth 
 
You should be able to ascertain how your present salary compares to the market average by looking up how much people in similar occupations and sectors are making at that level. With this knowledge, initiating the conversation should be easier because you have done adequate research and compiled sufficient evidence to support your argument. 
 
Consider if you have taken on additional duties or projects, as well as how the projects have benefited your business. With these in mind, you can offer convincing justifications for why you are also worthy of the pay increase. Having strong examples of success is a key component in persuasive communication as it boosts the credibility of the message you are attempting to express.
 
3- Right time, right place 
 
The timing of the chat is a crucial element, so make sure to ask at a time when your supervisor is open to suggestions and isn’t overly busy. If other high-priority projects are on their mind your request is likely to get lost or pushed to the back of their mind.  

You can improve the likelihood that your message will be well-received and effectively understood by communicating when people are more open, receptive, or in a favourable emotional state. According to neuropsychological studies, our brains are less able to process rational information when we are under a lot of emotional stress. Therefore, think about bringing up the subject once a project or assignment has been done satisfactorily or when your superior doesn’t seem unduly pressured.  

Rethinkly develops a virtual world that employees can access anonymously using avatars to combat this issue. As they use the power of visualization to convey how they feel during these difficult dialogues, employees feel more comfortable and supported in this environment. 
 
How does Rethinkly work:
 
By design, the software removes all real-world references creating a neutral, virtual space that is solely designed to inspire autonomy of expression. In this context, users are able to create avatars that can express emotion and gestures, enabling detachment for reflection and transparent communication. By utilising a virtual world – the platform reframes problem-solving and communication in the workplace and beyond, in scenarios where people may feel uncomfortable expressing their feelings or opinions out loud. As such, the power of imagery and visualisation prevails where words fail, with Rethinkly combining the most effective principles of storytelling, psychodrama and coaching to address the issue at hand. 
 
Understanding the power of images, the NHS has been relying on the software for years as a tool to help patients express themselves when they otherwise couldn’t, alongside corporate firms such as IBM which have integrated the software into employee development and coaching initiatives. Crucially, the software can either be used under expert direction – which may be appropriate for particularly complex issues including the mental health sector. Users can be taught how to use the software within minutes, making it a scalable solution, especially for teams within businesses. Research on the use of virtual realities in these settings is constantly evolving, and Rethinkly uses a combination of insight from practitioners, academia and case studies leading to one of the most sophisticated tools for addressing communication issues worldwide.

Andrew Jackson,  co-founder of Rethinkly, comments on the need and benefit for organisations to improve their team communication:

“If we think of the teams and groups we work in, why do some perform better than others? Well, it turns out that people being able to express themselves, say what they think, call out bad stuff, and feel connected to their colleagues are the things that really make a difference. For most, employee voice means sending out an annual survey and then trying to work out what to do with the results. Ambitious organisations are using tools like Rethinkly to discover what their talent really thinks and feels only then do you have real power through more comprehensive data to make positive changes.

“Most challenges at work stem from a lack of or just bad communication. Communication challenges are directly aligned with morale, productivity, and commitment which have real business impact. Effective communication and building a strong culture based on healthy engagement are often talked about but surprisingly difficult to achieve. But when organisations start to embed and grow critical communication skills and adopt them as a competitive advantage, they can start to see a significant shift in their trajectory.”

About Rethinkly:

Founded in 2013, Rethinkly powered by ProReal is a unique development and coaching visualisation tool that provides a safe digital space for ambitious teams to explore problems, relationships, conflicts and dynamics. Based in the UK, Rethinkly is helping organisations to build the skills and cultures needed in today’s dynamic business environments. 

We have been developing and improving the ProReal engine over the past seven years, combining insights from academic studies with feedback from our clients and practitioners. 

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