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You Got a Promotion but No Raise — Here’s What to Ask for Next

May 5, 2021

Making the ask for a raise is nerve-wracking. This is why it can really sting when your boss says they can’t (or won’t) give you a raise after you’ve perfected your pitch and put yourself out there. That frustration can really grow if you were given a promotion without a raise. More responsibilities, but no extra compensation? Good times. 

Let’s Pause for a Minute.

Before considering what to ask for if you got promoted without a raise, examine why they said no. 

Ideally, they’ll have explained their reasoning to you, but if they haven’t, asking for a reason will help you decide what to do next. If you received great performance reviews (or even a title promotion but no raise), but they can’t afford to give you a raise right now, then asking for other perks in exchange for extra money might be the way to go. 

If you were told no because management doesn’t think you’re deserving of a raise at the moment, then you may want to hold off on asking for any favors and instead ask what you can do in the next six months to a year to warrant getting a raise. Maybe you haven’t been at the company long enough or they don’t give raises tied to work anniversaries. Perhaps there are issues with your performance that you need to address. The reason could just be that you’ve done a fine job, but you haven’t shown you’re ready to move up to the next level. Have a transparent conversation with your manager and create an actionable plan that you can use to work toward a future raise. 

Because of the coronavirus, many businesses are struggling financially right now and some companies truly can’t afford to give their employees raises at the moment, so they hesitate to give a promotion without a raise. No matter what type of financial situation your company is in, let’s look at what you can ask for instead of a raise if money is off the table. 

Extra PTO

You know that saying "work to live, not live to work"? Now’s the time to jump on that. Your time has value, and if your company can’t afford to monetarily match that value, they may be able to give you some extra vacation days that allow you to spend your time as you please. If keeping your current salary but getting to spend more time away from the office sounds like a good deal to you, request some extra paid time off (PTO). If your company can’t afford to give you a raise right now, giving you more vacation or personal days offers them an affordable way to help retain an employee. Not to mention, down the road they may give you a raise and let you keep those extra vacation days (consider updating your employment contract to specify your new PTO terms). 

Volunteer Time Off (VTO)

If there is a cause that’s near and dear to your heart, consider asking for paid time off to volunteer each month. An increasing number of companies offer volunteer days as a perk for employees, so why not lead the philanthropic way at your company? Volunteering can help you make an impact in your community while giving you the opportunity to use that promotion without raise to expand your network and grow new skills. 

If you’re feeling uninspired at work or like you need a refresh, being given time off to volunteer can reignite your passions and help with workplace satisfaction. LinkedIn found that 71% of workers would actually be willing to take a pay cut if their company shared their values. While you probably don’t want to take a paycut, that statistic shows just how valuable a benefit VTO can be if your company supports you and your cause. If your company is receptive to the idea of providing volunteer time off, consider offering to spearhead a volunteer program at work so your team can take a day off once a month or quarter to volunteer together. 

Education and Career Growth Resources

A shiny new title is great. However, if you got promoted but no raise was offered, it can rightly feel unfair to take on a new title with no extra pay. If you’ve been promoted without a raise in salary, you’ll want to make the most of that new title and how it will look on your resume. While you might certainly want to proceed in good faith and hope your company will one day increase your salary to match the title, spending some time preparing for your next career move can’t hurt. 

If your company gives you a title promotion but no raise, you might consider asking for professional development resources, which are benefits that can help you in your current job and future ones. This may involve attending a digital conference — or an in-person conference when those are available again, taking an online class, or pursuing a professional certificate. 

Education is a great perk to ask for no matter your career stage. If your company values you, but can’t afford to increase your compensation, they might consider your professional development an investment in both you and the company. If they won’t provide these resources, you may want to consider requesting time off from work to pursue them on your own. 

On top of resources that can help you grow your career, you can also request that you receive compensation in other ways. If a raise is off-limits for now, see how they feel about bonuses, mid-year salary adjustments (when the company may be in better financial shape), employee equity, or reimbursement for equipment you need to do your job from home. 

More Flexibility

As life begins to pick up speed post-pandemic, it will be helpful to have the flexibility you need to improve your quality of life. Maybe you’re sick of rush hour traffic and want to shorten your commute by shifting the hours you come into the office. Perhaps you need to pick your child up from school every day at 3 p.m. and want to finish the remainder of your workday from home. Some workers may want to take a long lunch once a week to squeeze in appointments or to hit a gym class. 

If having a bit more flexibility in your work day will help you relieve stress, stay on top of your personal to-do list and make your life easier to manage, then that’s something valuable worth asking for, especially if you received a promotion but no raise. 

More Time Spent Working From Home

While many employees have continued working from home since the beginning of the COVID pandemic, some offices are starting to go back to their pre-COVID routines. If you enjoy working from home, but your company wants you in the office, consider asking to work from home a few days a week or as needed. 

If your company is happy with your performance and wants to give you a raise, but can’t do so at the moment, then take advantage of the leverage you have to make your work life more enjoyable. Cutting out your commute two or three days a week, having quiet time at home to focus on important projects and not having to get dressed up to go into the office are perks that can feel just as valuable as a raise.

Reaching Goals With or Without a Raise 

Even if you aren't getting a raise — one that might have helped pay down debt — there are still ways to manage your debt with the earnings you do have. A debt-management app like Tally can help ease some of the stress associated with keeping track of multiple payments each month. You'll be able to have a clear picture of what you owe and make a plan to reach your financial goals.