NEW YORK (MainStreet) — In executive suites across the fruited plains, corporate financial officers are focusing on two words these days: employee retention.
A poll from Menlo Park, Calif.-based AccountTemps shows 79% of U.S. chief financial officers are "taking steps to improve employee retention as the economy recovers." Furthermore, to keep talented, effective employees on board, 63% say they are promoting "top performers" and 52% say they are doling out raises to favored staffers.
Increasingly, company executives see promotions and raises as insurance policies against key personnel from leaving, especially for a competitor. "Businesses can lose their competitive edge if they don't have key players in place as new growth opportunities arise," says Bill Driscoll, a district president of AccounTemps. "Employers who aren't actively engaging with their best people and providing competitive salaries risk losing them to other offers."
With management largely on board for giving out raises, how can you stake your claim to a bigger paycheck? Experts advise demonstrating a passion for the job, and a commitment to the company.
"I've had workers ask for raises in the first half of 2015," says Andrew Royce Bauer, chief executive at Royce Leather, a Secaucus, N.J., provider of travel and lifestyle accessories. "Employees explain they will work harder, work longer and more effectively with greater responsibility and greater wages."
"As a CEO, I always prefer to promote workers in-house rather than hire workers from outside our business," Bauer says. "As a result, I am happy to promote workers who take the initiative and show me that they want to be a part of Royce Leather for the long term. We want a worker to show as much passion for this business as management does."
Demonstrating an effective track record on the job can sway company decision-makers too. "I am constantly looking for ways to retain strong talent," says Bita Goldman, general counsel and vice president of operations at Quantum Networks in New York City. "We conduct regular employee reviews, but I always tell new hires that they should feel confident to ask for a raise any time in between a review so long as they can show growth. If any employee comes to me with tangible numbers of money that was saved, it is hard to deny his or her request for a raise."
Better yet, Goldman says, is to put the numbers on paper or in an email and submit them before a meeting. "This gives me an opportunity to look into the facts and see that indeed this employee is worth the extra money."
It's also likely better for employees to give a little extra effort all the time, rather than show bursts of productivity some of the time. Management is more likely to reward steady producers over erratic performers.
"Your employer also wants to see that you're in it for the long haul — not just a few special projects where you feel like you get something in return," says Heather Neisen, human resources manager at TechnologyAdvice, a Nashville, Tenn., business IT services provider. "If you give your role 110% every day, over time you'll have hopefully created so much value that you've become even more of an asset to the company due to your skills, attitude and dedication."
"At our company, we like to call it the 'extra 10%' — giving a bit more every day compounds over time," Neisen adds. "Giving 200% just once or twice is all smoke and mirrors."
Before you go to management and ask for a raise, make sure you have all your bases covered and have done your due diligence. "Research your job title on career sites like Glassdoor.com and Salary.com to give you a salary level benchmark," advises Michelle Joseph, chief executive of PeopleFoundry, a Chicago consulting firm. "Once you put out a number you think is fair — wait. If you're too eager to hear back and bug them with other offers, this makes you look weak."
"Don't let statements like 'Well, maybe they didn't get my email' or 'I should go a little lower' enter your mind," Joseph adds.
— Written by Brian O'Connell for MainStreet