Singaporeans work long and hard for their money (longest hours in the world, in case you were the last to know). But as many as 80% of Singaporeans aren’t satisfied with their salaries.
Now, you might dismiss this as a classic case of complaining Singaporeans. But when you consider the general misery that’s directed at the lack of work-life balance and escalating stress levels, it’s not that hard to see why people feel they’re not being adequately compensated for their sweat, tears and souls—oh, and their first born children, too, which would explain the dismal birth rate.
If you’re being paid less than the market rate or just had a really insulting salary increment that doesn’t even keep pace with inflation, here’s how to wring a bit more money out of the tight fists of whatever corporation you’re working at.
1. Negotiate with your boss
I have no doubt that many Singaporeans reading this are rolling their eyes, muttering, “If it were so easy I would have done this a long time ago.” In fact, most of the people I know would never dream of asking for a raise, instead preferring to sneakily hunt for a new job.
The irony is that the few people I do know who’ve had the guts to ask for a raise have usually come away successful.
If you’ve been with the company for some time and are doing good work but haven’t been receiving reasonable pay increments, you’re in a good position to ask for a raise. Having been with the company for some time means you’ve received valuable training and gained experience that would make it very troublesome for a company to impart to a new hire.
If you’re been paid way below market rate and your boss declines to give you a raise despite your having satisfied the criteria above, you’re better off leaving and looking for an employer who’ll pay you what you’re worth anyway. At least by taking the first step to negotiate with your boss, you’ll have seen how much the company really values you as an employee.
Decide to gather your courage to negotiate with your boss? Here are some tips elsewhere on MoneySmart, brave soldier.
2. Get another job offer and use that as a bargaining chip
While this is a little sneaky and might not work for everybody, some of my friends have managed to increase their salaries by snagging another job offer, and then using it as a bargaining chip.
Once you tell your boss you’ve received the offer of a job that will pay you more, if you are indeed a valued employee and the company can afford to pay you more to keep you, you’ll be offered a higher salary.
Of course, this could backfire. If your boss secretly hates your guts and is glad he finally has an excuse to get rid of you, or if you’re a mediocre employee who’s easily replaceable, you’ll be told to go fly a kite, leaving you with no choice but to accept the job offer.
For this reason, it’s not a good idea to go an interview at a company that’s got a reputation as a hell hole that pays its employees well, just for the sake of bargaining with your current boss.
3. Jump ship
While the news reports always make it seem like our salaries are increasing at okay rates each year (despite being the third lowest in the region), in reality your boss isn’t going to read these articles and then, light bulb going over his head, decide you deserve at least that much more when it comes time for your annual increment.
If you’re particularly unlucky, your boss might have withheld salary increments for more than a year (it’s happened to me, so don’t think nobody is that heartless).
Conversely, changing jobs within your industry usually yields at least a 10% to 15% salary increase.
If you’re being severely underpaid or are some superstar employee, you might even be able to wrangle a 20% to 30% pay increase just by jumping ship and swimming over to the warm, welcoming shores of another company.
In fact, in Singapore’s current employment climate, recruiters often recommend that employees not stay in the same job for more than 3 years.
4. Ask for more benefits
Your boss might wince at the thought of increasing your salary, but there are other, sneaky ways you can effectively increase the amount of money you’re taking home at the end of the month without affecting your actual salary. You do this by asking for benefits you would otherwise be paying for on your own.
If your company doesn’t offer transport allowance and you find yourself having to take cabs after late nights at the office, the first thing request you should make is for the company to reimburse taxi fares if you leave after a certain hour. If you’re working past midnight and are forced to take a cab home and incur midnight surcharge, only the most satanic of bosses would refuse to consider reimbursement.
If clients are constantly calling you on your mobile phone, it’s a good idea to ask for a phone allowance as well. A former employer of mine used to give each employee an $80 phone allowance each month, and since most of us had free incoming calls we didn’t have to pay when clients rang us anyway, making the phone allowance tantamount to an $80 raise.
The types of benefits your employer is willing to dole out really depend on what kind of company you work in. I’ve got friends whose employers pay for their gym memberships or muay thai classes, and I even know someone who convinced her employer to reimburse her for her French lessons because they happened to be a European company.
If your company is willing to offer you good benefits that you would have paid for yourself anyway, you indirectly raise the amount you get to save at the end of each month, and your boss doesn’t feel bitter that he’s paying you more.
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