First you need to find out whether or not you are entitled to a salary review meeting according to the collective agreement or the personnel handbook.
You may request one, even if your supervisor does not take the initiative to arrange one. If you are not entitled to a salary review meeting, you may still request one (the worst that can happen is that your request is rejected).
10 things to remember in the salary review meeting:
- Are you entitled to a salary review meeting? Take the initiative.
- Does the person you negotiate with have the authority to increase your salary?
- What value do you bring to your employer? Prepare your thoughts around this.
- What is the market situation for employees with your competencies?
- How does your salary compare with NITO's salary statistics?
- What is the company's profitability?
- Are there employment conditions other than salary that are relevant to the discussion?
- Have any changes been made to your job since the previous salary review meeting?
- Provide documentation.
- Stick to the facts
A successful salary review meeting requires good preparation. If you are well prepared before the meeting, it will make the discussion easier.
Prepare good arguments to convince your supervisor that salary review meetings are also beneficial for the company. A few good arguments are that salary review meetings motivate employees and give the company an opportunity to get a better picture of its employees' salary expectations and of salary levels more generally.
They also provide opportunities to give constructive feedback both ways and to clarify expectations, and thereby increase motivation and create a better understanding between you and your employer of your goals and development.
Find out whether your supervisor has the authority to directly grant you a salary increase. If they do, you can apply more pressure to reach a concrete decision at the end of the meeting.
Three areas you need to focus on in your preparations:
- Your value to the company
- How much do others with similar competencies and responsibilities earn?
- The company's profitability
1. Your value to the company
All the contributions you make that positively affect the company's earnings or development will be objective arguments that will demonstrate your value to your employer. You should present arguments that support this.
- Recent achievements. Present a list of projects that have generated income or that have helped advance the company in other respects.
- What knowledge development courses have you participated in recently? This will demonstrate that you have improved your competencies and skills.
- Do you have previous experience that you can draw on in your position?
- Have you helped the company cut costs?
- Do you hold a key position in the company? Are you the only person with knowledge on which the company is totally reliant?
- Do you have a network of contacts from which the company benefits significantly? If you are difficult to replace, this will naturally enhance your value.
- Have you contributed more than what is expected of you or your position?
2. How much do others with similar competencies earn?
At NITO.no you will find a salary calculator, salary statistics and average starting salaries. As a NITO member, you can use these to support your salary negotiations with your employer.
NITO's salary statistics serve as a tool that can be used by employee representatives and members, and that will provide you with the basis for comparison you need when discussing your salary review.
You could also ask former colleagues who have left the company, former co-students, and NITO members working in other companies about their salary levels.
Ask your colleagues how much they earn and gain an overview of salary levels, holiday leave, pension schemes and other employment conditions.
Some organisations have a company culture that discourages employees from discussing individual employment conditions, but the only one to benefit from that is the employer.
Being open about such issues will mean that engineers and technologists are better informed about their value in the market, and make them better equipped to ask for the market rates right from the start.
3. The company's profitability
The company’s profitability is critical to its capacity to pay; i.e. the salaries it is able to pay. In the same way as employees' competencies and work performance can differ, so too can employers' earning capacity.
A company's profitability will depend on geographical location, industry affiliations, market conditions, the management's competence, the workforce, political decisions, and so on.
If you know little about the company's development in recent years (turnover, profits, number of employees), you can ask colleagues or others who work on the financial side of the business. Some information can also be found in the annual reports.
Points to raise during salary negotiations
- When preparing to negotiate your salary, it is important to find verifiable documentation that supports your arguments. Stick to the facts.
- When salary negotiations are to take place, you will probably be better informed than your boss if you have done your work on preparing the three points presented above.
- Turning your employer’s arguments to your own advantage will give you the upper hand. There are other factors that are appropriate to consider regarding your current and future salary.
What is the right salary for me?
Common questions NITO is often asked are:
- What is the right salary for me?
- How much should I ask for?
We fully understand why people ask this question, because feeling that you receive a reasonable salary will most likely motivate you to do a good job, which in turn will enhance the company’s development.
It is therefore important for both parties to arrive at a salary that is as right as possible. It is difficult to give an exact answer as to what the right salary is for you.
This will depend on your competencies, work duties and performance, as well as on the company's profitability, industry and geographical location.
NITO’s statistics should give you an idea of where you stand in terms of salary level. The statistics are mainly based on two variables: Number of years of technical experience and job category.
Which category you belong to depends on the level of autonomy associated with your position, what level of advanced case processing your job requires, and whether you have a management role, etc.
The statistics also provide a list of variations in geographic location, industry sector and job roles. All the same, it is important to remember that statistics are not the same as standard wages. The way statistics work is that the more similarity there is between your salary and the salary in the statistical category you are comparing it with, the more relevant the statistics will be.
If you have unique competencies that are in high demand, it will probably be misleading for you to refer to the statistics to gauge what salary you can request.
Conversely, not all companies are able or willing to pay salaries close to the average salaries stated in the statistics. They may nevertheless be attractive as employers in terms of interesting work duties, location, stimulating working environment and so on.
Same job and education = equal pay?
NITO’s salary policy encourages individual salary determination, which means that the company determines salaries based on individual assessments.
Wage differences may be perceived to be unreasonable if one does not know on what basis the management made its assessment. For example, wage discrimination based on gender, age, ethnicity, etc. is prohibited. There may be other reasons for wage differences.
Do you and your colleague have exactly the same education and work experience? Do you perform exactly the same duties at the same level? Maybe your colleague has more experience than you and is expected to work more independently and take fewer instructions from their supervisor?
Could your colleague’s salary at their previous workplace have been a factor when negotiating their current salary?
The time at which your colleague was recruited may also affect their pay level. If they joined the company at a time when it was difficult to find engineers, this would naturally have influenced their salary.
We recommend that you do not question your colleagues’ salary with management. Doing so will make a manager defensive and compel them to justify a previous decision.
And you should be prepared to hear that your colleague actually does a better job than you, which will rarely have a motivating effect on you. In some cases, you may also reveal a breach of promise between your supervisor and your colleague if you make it known that you know what your colleague earns. Instead, take your colleague’s salary as the target for your own salary review meetings, taking your own results as your basis.
In general, wage differences will benefit everyone over time, since those who earn most will pull the others up with them.
Employment conditions: More than just a matter of salary
Several factors may compensate for a lower salary; holiday leave, pension schemes, bonuses, car allowances, free mobile phone/broadband, newspapers, flexible working hours, cheap loans, etc. can be worth a great deal.
It is important to look at the big picture when evaluating your employment conditions.
Make a list of the company’s employee benefits. Maybe you can agree on additional benefits if the company cannot offer the salary you're looking for.
During the salary review meeting
- Speak plainly. Use the arguments you have prepared, and be clear about what you think of your current salary. State the salary you're looking for. If salary increases were deferred in previous negotiations ('We can’t offer you much this year, but we’ll make up for it next year!), remind management accordingly.
- Make sure that you are in agreement. If you don't understand what your supervisor means, then ask. It is a good idea to summarise the discussion and check that you both agree on what has been arrived at ('So we agree that ...'). Write down what you have agreed on.
- If your boss says they need to think about your salary expectations or refer the matter to someone who is authorised to make the decision, make sure that you set a new date for feedback. If you are not satisfied, then say so. Remember that keeping a professional tone during the meeting is always worth it in the long run.
Things you should avoid at salary review meetings:
- It's never a good idea to get personal at salary review meetings. From a company's perspective, asking for a pay rise because of poor personal finances is usually a weak argument.
- Making a personal attack on your supervisor (or other colleagues) is also destructive. Remember that you must continue working together in the future. Present your arguments and justify them as professionally as possible.
- Never set an ultimatum unless you are prepared to go through with it. If you threaten to quit if you are not given the salary increase you're asking for, you will lose respect at the company if your request is rejected yet you decide to say nonetheless.
- Falsehoods tend to come to light sooner or later, and when they do, your credibility will be undermined in all future negotiations. Stick to the facts: That's enough!
- Don't stray off-topic. If you're supposed to discuss a salary review, don't ‘take the opportunity’ to raise topics that are beyond the scope of the meeting. That will make you appear unstructured, and will distract attention from the purpose of the meeting, which is to increase your salary.
What if they turn me down?
If your employer cannot increase your salary on account of, for example, a sudden pay freeze, you can try to schedule a salary review at a later point in time.
To get your supervisor to look beyond an apparently impossible situation when it comes to raising your salary, ask: 'What do you think might result in me getting a salary increase in the near future (such as other work duties, more responsibility, etc.)? This will often help your superior to consider other options.
Maybe you should also think about how satisfied you are if you feel you're not being paid enough for the job you do. How hard would you work if you genuinely felt underpaid, and will you get the pay increase you believe you deserve if you don't perform at your best? If so, it might be better if you start looking for a new job. NITO recommends that you do not hand in your notice until you have found a new job.
If you don't sell yourself to your employer, you are highly unlikely to achieve your potential salary development. You must dare to ask. The worst that can happen is that you are turned down, but then you can always try again later.
When you are offered a job, you are usually in a position to conduct an individual pay negotiation. These negotiations are usually conducted between two equal parties, where both parties are interested, in and benefit from, reaching an agreement. Both parties have the authority to decide on the intended result.
When you are in an employment relationship, it's not a given that your employer sees it in their interest to pay you a higher salary; nor is it a given that the person you 'negotiate' with has the authority to decide on a specific pay increase. Such a negotiation is therefore called a salary review meeting, meaning a formal meeting to discuss your salary and salary development.
What sector do you work in?
How salary review meetings proceed and what rights you have will depend on where you are employed.
Your rights are defined in the collective agreement pertaining to your specific area, if one exists.
More about the collective agreements (Norwegian only)
Most of our members work in the private sector, where the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO) is the largest employer organisation.
Most of NITO's members in the private sector have pay and working conditions that are regulated by the agreement between NITO and NHO.
Wage formation is regulated in chapter 3 of this agreement. Section 3-2, fourth paragraph states: 'An individual wage formation requires dialogue, such as a wage review meeting between the employee and their supervisor.' NITO's agreement with Virke (Enterprise Federation of Norway) contains similar provisions.
The right to a wage review meeting is founded on the general provisions in the Basic Collective Agreement, section 5:
'The employee has the right to an annual meeting to discuss competencies, responsibilities, pay and career development compared with local wage policy. The discussions shall contribute equal pay between the sexes.
On return from parental leave, the employee shall be invited to a meeting to discuss competencies, responsibilities, wage and career development.'
The right to a wage review meeting is founded on the basic collective agreement with KS (Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities), section 3.2.2.
'If an employee requests a wage review meeting, this shall be conducted between the employer and the employee.'
Wage negotiations in the municipalities are founded on chapter 3.4 for managers, chapter 4 for teaching jobs, among others, and on chapter 5 for jobs with local wage formation. Most engineers working in the municipalities are covered by chapter 5.
The City of Oslo has its own provisions because it constitutes a separate collective agreement area. Document no. 25, Part B 1-1-6 of this collective agreement states:
'The individual employee may request a wage review meeting.‘
The right to a wage review meeting is founded on Part A, section 2, paragraph 6: 'In individual enterprises, individual wage reviews shall be conducted annually based on a wage review meeting with individual employees and be based on, among other things:
- Applied competencies
- Work performance
- Areas of work and responsibility
- The rest of section 2 discusses local wage negotiations.'
The right to a wage review meeting is founded in the collective agreement for energy enterprises with independent membership in the Samfunnsbedriftene employers’ association (Energiavtale II) section 3-4.1: 'Individual wage determination requires dialogue in the form of a wage review meeting between the manager and the employee.'
Local wage negotiations are founded on section 3-4.
How to negotiate a higher salary after a job offer?
Check this video by Bob Bordone, an internationally recognised writer, teacher and coach in negotiation.
How can you as an employee representative strengthen salary review meetings for your members? The salary review meeting is an important tool for getting wage policy to work. How can you as an employee representative ensure that members and employers use the salary review meeting in a productive manner?