Is it time to demand a raise?

I am trying to decide if I am wrestling with a sense of entitlement, or have I truly experienced an injustice in my workplace.  My situation is this:  I have been given many additional responsibilities at my work due to an acquisition of my company.

My workload has increased greatly, but I have not received a meaningful raise to reflect this. The painful part is that other employees who used to do these tasks are still making the same salary.  In other words, they are paid the same to do less work and I am paid the same to perform  much more work.  Another by product of this arrangement is that my opportunities for advancement have been diminished. 

Should I complain, or demand a raise?  Or, should I just be grateful to have a job?

Chris T.

Dear Chris,

We appreciate that you are trying to look at your work situation from a number of different perspectives.  However, our answer to both the choice you present in your first sentence and your question to us in your last paragraph is: none of the above.

You don’t say how long ago your company’s acquisition took place, but there is an adjustment period when any big changes take place in a work environment. An injustice, albeit one about which you can do very little, is when the boss’ nephew gets double the salary for half the work. A sense of entitlement is when the boss’ nephew expects to get double the salary for half the work. During an adjustment period, it may take time for new management to get the whole picture, but they aren’t being unjust. Neither are you showing a sense of entitlement for wanting to be compensated properly.

Thinking in either of those terms, “injustice” or “entitlement” suggests an emotional analysis rather than a businesslike approach. We heartily recommend that you remove emotion from the equation.

Similarly, complaining is a bad idea in general because that is a release of emotion rather than a productive step. Demanding a raise is also an emotional phrase. Instead, you should build the case for explaining to management what you are doing currently and what you can and hope to do for the company. If you don’t have a work review scheduled, you should try to schedule one.

Practice presenting your facts in an unemotional way. You can certainly say that you would like to advance in the company and would appreciate being told what skills you should work on developing to set yourself up for that.

Before you go in for a meeting, you need to decide if you are willing to look elsewhere for a more suitable job or if you hope to stay where you are. How strongly you speak will be a function of that. No one should “demand” a raise, unless he or she is willing to leave if the answer is no. We would recommend not pulling that trigger unless you are sure the gun is loaded – in other words, you have other options on the table. Even if that is the case, human nature pushes back against demands, so we would encourage you to use more tactful language.

We assume that this is an ongoing situation rather than your response during the turmoil of the first few weeks under the new circumstances. It is a good opportunity to take stock and assess your abilities. You may choose to accept the situation or make plans to improve it. In general, feeling resentful is detrimental to both those choices.

Wishing you success as you sideline the emotion,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin



9 thoughts on “Is it time to demand a raise?”

  1. Dear Chris,

    Don’t complain. Do go out and look for another job. When you’ve got one then have a little meeting your boss.

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Thank you Richard–
      And Chris himself was good enough to write and let us know that our response was helping him redesign his approach.

  2. Thank you for the gentle manner in which you handled this request. There is no appropriate time to complain or demand in the workplace as children, especially infants and toddlers, who are being socialized sometimes do, at home. Child labor is no longer allowed in this country. If you find yourself in a company that still hires and retains children in their workforce (even when those children are in their 20’s and 30’s or more) you should probably find another place to work. I started working outside the home at age 8 yrs and for the past 35 years I have been a contract IT worker in many companies. I am now 73 and will continue to work. My pay is whatever I’m willing to accept for the contract. If the contract needs to be renegotiated due to factors such as scope changes, acquisitions, relocations, skills requirements, etc. it is treated as any other business transaction. I do have a small quibble about factoring out emotions. If a proposal doesn’t excite me I won’t accept it. The few times I violated that rule, in the distant past, I regretted it. Regards.

    1. Jim, emotion does have a place, as you say. But not in being confrontational. It is wonderful if you can be excited about a position and building excitement about what you are doing is vital. Sometimes, of course, one just needs a job. And showing management that you are passionate about the company and work is important too. We were referring more to the negative emotion that pervaded Chris’ letter. Thanks for adding your piece.

  3. I went through the same situation. Duties continually added on to my position but with no benefits. I was not the only one. Employer has been spoken to by other employees yet nothing had change. My health was declining a bit because of the heavy pressure. I had to look out for myself, no one else could. And why should I fight for a raise when it is so obvious I am an excellent employee. So after doing some research into the marketplace, I found better opportunities. Much better for my health, and much better for my pockets.

    I was not being ungrateful. I was not being entitled. I was simply taking care of my well-being.

    1. Lisa, it sounds like you made a great choice and we’re so glad that you found new opportunity.

  4. Chris T Thompson

    Rabbi and Susan:

    Thank you for answering my question. I have wrested with this issue some more since I wrote to you, and I agree with your suggestion. I must work on removing the emotion.

    1. We put a lot of thought into this, Chris, and are delighted if it helps. However you decide to move forward, learning to react from a non-emotional place is good training for many areas of life.

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