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Created on 17.01.2019

The dos and don’ts of successful pay negotiations

An employee’s monthly salary is the money the majority of people have to pay their living expenses from. In Switzerland, this salary is often negotiated at the end of the year. Annual employee appraisals do not just assess an employee’s work, but are also where salary negotiations take place. Find out how to get the very most out of your appraisal in this article.

Employees in Switzerland have to live off their salary, which is why negotiating pay is often a very emotional topic. If a person believes they do not earn enough, it may not just be a matter of hurt pride − they are also unable to lead the life they would like. Even though in Switzerland we are working increasingly towards consistent pay grades and equal pay, most people still find themselves negotiating salaries and pay rises. In this article, we will give you some tips for successful pay negotiations.

Average salaries vary depending on the canton, the industry and experience,

Before we get started with these tips, here is a question you ought to ask yourself first: “What sort of salary am I due?” To answer this, it is a good idea to start by looking at average salaries. Did you know that mechanics in Switzerland earn an average of CHF 5,656 gross a month? And that a general office / secretarial worker earns CHF 5,979 a month? Of course, these salaries differ depending on the canton, the industry and experience. Still, pay negotiations can make a major difference in Switzerland. Do you think your salary is high enough compared to the salaries mentioned above?

If not, then a meeting to discuss your salary with your boss could well pay off. If the very thought of this makes you feel nervous, a calm and collected approach usually helps, and so we’re going to show you how you should definitely not go about negotiating a pay rise.

"Don'ts" for negotiating pay. Applicant: Boss, how much would my pay be if I started working for you? Boss: About 3,800 francs. Applicant: That's not very much! Boss: It will be more later. Applicant: Fine, I'll apply again "later" then. Employee: You promised to increase may pay if you were happy with my work. Boss: Yes, but how can I be happy with someone who asks for more money? Employee: You said that you would pay me appropriately for my performance. Boss: Yes, but I can't let you starve either...

Pay negotiations

Definitely don’t request a pay rise by:

  • Discussing pay rises or a higher salary via WhatsApp, e-mail or text
  • Trying to arouse sympathy and justifying a pay rise by citing your own personal problems
  • Showing a lack of interest, or saying pay is irrelevant or not important
  • Threatening to resign if you are not given a pay rise

Our tips for successful pay negotiations

This is how good negotiations will help you get a pay rise:

Solid preparation and research

Be well prepared for your meeting. Look up the minimum wages in your industry, check with the Swiss Federal Statistical Office to see how high the gross wage for your profession is and calculate the gross wage you would like per month and per year. Calculate exactly how much income you need to earn enough to make a living. Be realistic about it and take into account average wages.

Base your arguments on measurable achievements

Give details of your performance over the last year and justify your request for a pay rise with specific examples. Show why you are an asset to the company and a valuable employee. Specific, recent examples of good performance are an excellent way to back up your position.

Don’t be the one to make the first suggestion

Wait for your boss to make a suggestion. If this is not possible, you should reiterate your experience and set out all the achievements in your job. Explain what your goals in the company are, and only then should you state exactly what sort of figure you are looking for.

Be patient

Calmly listen to your manager’s suggestion. Pause briefly and make a thoughtful counterproposal, ensuring you use the same technique mentioned above. List your own qualities and goals in your job, and only then should you respond to the salary your boss has proposed.

Pay negotiations are not disputes

Be confident and remain professional no matter what. Try not to show too much emotion and stay cool. Think of your very best poker face.

If there is no progress with your salary

Try to negotiate a bonus or fringe benefits for yourself, for instance a fuel card, a public transport contribution or a contribution to your mobile phone contract if you need these to do your job.

Don’t be disheartened

Arrange a new meeting in the next few months. If your boss is remaining firm in their position, you will need to be patient. After all, pay will almost certainly be a matter for discussion again in a year’s time.

If things don’t work out despite our tips, there are other options. Looking for a new job is just one such option. It is possible to boost your income in other ways, for instance with a side job or with smart investments.

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