5 Tips for Parents to Negotiate a Raise as Inflation Skyrockets

Inflation has soared to 7.5 percent nationally, making salary talks even more important in 2022. Here's how parents in particular can make the most of such negotiations this year.

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Balancing the family budget can be daunting in the best of times. But when you factor in a national inflation rate of about 7.5 percent, suddenly the job of putting food on the table, keeping the lights on, and filling the car with gas becomes even more challenging. Increased costs for necessities also means there's less money for other family expenses like swim lessons, tutors, or summer camps—and then there's the fact that the cost for each of these extras has skyrocketed as well.

So as plenty of parents can probably attest, raise negotiations amid this type of economic environment can take on even more importance. The question, however, is how best to approach those negotiations. Should your family's increased cost of living play a significant role in raise discussions this year? Or is it best to leave family costs and considerations off the table altogether? Should you have inflation data points handy for salary talks? And how might parents approach raise conversations differently than peers who may not have similar expenses to consider?

To help sort through the do's and don'ts of salary talks in 2022 for parents, we reached out to negotiation, career, and personal finance experts. Here's what they had to say.

Focus on performance first, not rising family expenses

Did your efforts at work during the past year translate into success for an employer? Did you help land a new client or valuable publicity? The best outcomes for salary increase requests are typically rooted in performance, not personal circumstances, LinkedIn Career Expert Blair Heitmann tells Parents.

"Come to a salary negotiation with proof points as to why you deserve a pay bump, like an increase in company sales tied to your work, any outstanding praise, or projects you completed that year," explains Heitmann. "And be sure to highlight how you plan to continue your strong work at the company."

This effort could include bringing a list of how you've helped the company achieve its goals—and making the case for why you're asking for more, adds Colleen McCreary, chief people officer at Credit Karma. "It won't come as a surprise to anyone that prices are going up, so you may not even be the first person who has asked for a raise," McCreary tells Parents.

Tatiana Tsoir, CPA, MBA and founder of Linza Advisors, advocates taking an even bolder approach, one that encompasses your reality as a parent. To that end, when underscoring your accomplishments in pursuit of a salary increase, don't shy away from highlighting your dedication to the company amid the pandemic—especially as a parent pulling double duty.

"Families…especially those with children, had kids in remote school, no school, and all kinds of crazy schedules—and many parents still committed to work and delivery of results at work," says Tsoir. "A lot of sacrifices have been made and are still being made, including working harder and seeing less of family. Absolutely this consideration should be front and center of the negotiations."

Know what you want—and what's fair

Only you can know what compensation package makes financial sense for you and your family, and you should ask for what you want. When pursuing that goal, it can help to know what industry pay standards are for your role and responsibilities. This means doing your homework so that you can ask for an amount that's on-target.

"Do your research before having a salary conversation to know what others in your job or industry are making and have a real number in mind," continues Heitmann.

Andres Lares, managing partner at Shapiro Negotiations Institute, describes this step as finding precedence. Similar to when you're selling a home and you must identify how much comparable homes are listing for so that you price your property appropriately, you'll want to research what the current pay rate is for your job.

"There's so much great information online these days," Lares tells Parents. "Find out what your role gets paid on average."

LinkedIn Salary for instance allows users to view what members earn, on average, for a specific role and city, broken down by base salary, total compensation, and additional compensation such as bonuses. The platform can also be used to dive into insights at a company level.

Consider more than salary to compensate for inflation

A pay increase isn't the only request you can make of an employer to improve your family's financial picture in 2022. In other words, think carefully about what else might be of value to you financially. Even if they can't increase your salary at the moment, an employer may be open to other ways of providing compensation.

"What would make your work easier or more enjoyable? What would set you up for the next role you want to be in? What would make life easier or better or your family?" says Zoe Chance, senior lecturer at the Yale School of Management, who teaches the negotiation course Mastering Influence and Persuasion, and is author of the recently published book Influence is Your Superpower. "I've had students and friends ask for—and get a 'yes' to—jobs for spouses, company cars, family house hunting trips in the new city, moving the family abroad to work remotely, and leaving work early every day to pick up a kid from daycare."

Lares also advocates taking this type of approach, pointing out that parents in particular might benefit from making requests that help cut costs for the family budget. "For example, if you ask to be able to work more days remotely, that might mean you don't need to hire a sitter a couple day each week," Lares explains. "Those types of requests are valuable."

"Everyone wants flexibility, but for a parent there's definitely a monetary value to that flexibility," adds Lares.

Yet another request you might consider making, beyond a salary bump, is a new title, one that sets you up for professional advancement and an increase in future income. And the list of potential asks doesn't end there.

Think: additional PTO days or even a spot bonus to temporarily help out with expenses, says McCreary of Credit Karma.

"Parents likely have far more expenses than those who aren't raising a family, making their compensation package that much more important. And the emphasis here is on their total compensation, not just salary," says McCreary. "There are other benefits that could be more valuable to parents today beyond just their salary. Families may be motivated by different things than those who aren't raising a family. Things like, more PTO days to spend with their family, child care assistance, stock or 401k benefits, student loan repayment options, fertility or adoption assistance, or flexible days of work when childcare is in flux can make a huge difference."

Look at what your family spends money on each month, and how you use things like your vacation days and your healthcare benefits. Nearly all of us appreciate a higher salary, but ask yourself if there are other perks that you can come to the table with during a negotiation.

There may even be perks your company offers to families and parents that you aren't aware of or don't take advantage of, so it's worth digging into your benefits package or talking to your HR team to have them help you navigate it all," says McCreary. "The key is to make a list ahead of time so you come to these conversations prepared with a tiered list of what benefits are most important to you and your family."

Give your manager the full picture

Though the cost of inflation is hardly news at this point, when negotiating compensation, it can still be helpful to give your manager the full "why" behind your request, suggests McCreary. And if it's not been made abundantly clear by now, be fully prepared to support your why with research.

"Beyond the fact that you're supporting your family and not just yourself, prices of nearly everything are going up, and sometimes our compensation just doesn't keep up," McCreary tells Parents.

"One of the best tools you can bring to a negotiation is data to back up what you are asking for. There are a number of stats to keep in your back pocket," McCreary continues. "If you're asking for a raise because of increasing prices of nearly everything today, have a few stats on hand that prove that point. For example, wholesale inflation jumped 9.7 percent from this time last year. In addition, a recent Credit Karma survey found that 80 percent of Americans say rising inflation has made it more costly for them to buy groceries. There are some figures that could really help make your case."

Have the conversation sooner rather than later...

Many people have their compensation reviewed once a year, and unfortunately that schedule isn't influenced by things like skyrocketing inflation rates. For many families, an increase in compensation can be a game changer, so it's crucial you advocate for yourself and your family sooner rather than later, says McCreary.

"Even if your evaluation isn't for a few more months yet, if you need an increase in compensation, you should start those conversations now," advises McCreary. "That way, even if your employer can't meet your needs overnight, you've still planted the seed and can work toward a goal together with your manager."

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