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On August 2014 I will be employed for 2 years at the agency where I currently work. Last September (so basically after the first year was over) I was given some really nice hardware (for my personal use) which somehow comes near to a salary raise I guess. Maybe that even was the intention of my boss, I believe this kind of gift/reward instead of a salary raise is a common do in the IT/ web dev business, isnt it?

But, having that nice hardware does not make it easier to pay my bills. So my question is: when and whether would it be appropriate to ask for a raise given that I received some awesome "gift"/hardware not too long ago?

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    " I believe this kind of gift/reward instead of a salary raise is a common do in the IT/ web dev business, isnt it?" - I was not aware this was fairly common. Our bosses (I'm in IT) seem to think bottles of wine are "reward for a job well done" - but until my mortgage provider accepts wine in lieu of payment, it cuts no ice with me – Mike Apr 29 '14 at 12:50
  • Does your employee handbook or do other employment documents have any indication of regular review/potential raise cycles? – jcmeloni Apr 29 '14 at 13:03
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    no, they dont imply this – user19105 Apr 29 '14 at 13:06
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Gifts as a bonus are not unheard of in most industries and in some tech fields, it's understood that computer hardware is a decent gift for most folks.

But it's not generally seen as the same thing as a raise, which implies the commitment to pay a higher salary not only this year, but in future years as well. A smart company will divide compensation thinking into:

  • awards and bonuses - cash or gifts that are given once, fully under control of the employee immediately and imply no future payment
  • salaries and ongoing benefits - includes raises - it's the collection of costs that are required to keep an employee on staff.
  • long term retention options - like vesting stock options, or incentive programs that promise delivery of extra money in discrete chunks if certain obligations are met. Sometimes that's as easy as "still be working here in 3 years and you'll get stock", some are more complicated involving hitting targets for an incentive.

These are not generally seen as interchangeable in the industry, but they are used at different times in different places depending on the company, it's financial state, and it's overall retention strategy.

Most companies will generally consider raises in two ways:

  • cost of living increase - given to most employees to recognize that the economy can experience inflation, and to have the same lifestyle, salaries have to grow.
  • good performance increase - a certain amount of the budget is earmarked for increasing the salaries of top performers to make sure that their pay stays competitive, or slightly better than competitive so that the company can feel more confident that they are likely to stick around.

Because raises are an ongoing commitment, they are generally reviewed as part of some sort of cycle - quite often an annual one. It's likely that salaries get reviewed at either the anniversary of employment or at the start/end of the fiscal year.

It's fair, since it's been well over a year with no raise, to ask your boss what the process for reviewing salaries and considering raises are, and if there are any conditions that you need to meet in order to be eligible for a raise. That's a good place to start to see what the mechanics are in this case, and it gives your boss a starting point to explain the specifics of raises and raise criteria.

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    well that was very informative and detailed, thank you very much – user19105 Apr 29 '14 at 18:42
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If your employee handbook or other employment related documents do not have any mention of annual review and raise processes, then based on my experience as a manager and an employee in numerous types of companies and industries I would say that annually is a perfectly reasonable and appropriate time to ask for a review and a raise.

In the OP's specific situation, it seems as if there is some precedent set for an annual review or "gifting" given that the gift occurred near to the OP's anniversary date with the employer. This is something that should be clarified with HR, or -- if the company lacks explicit HR folks -- your direct manager.

There's absolutely nothing inappropriate with saying to your manager, "I just realized that my annual review time is coming up soon. Should we get together and chat about my performance and goals?" If you and your manager don't typically have meetings about your performance and goals, or any sort of mention of "annual review" time, then here's a way to let him or her know that you are thinking about it -- both for your own growth and (you can be honest here) your bank account's growth.

There's also nothing inappropriate about saying, as part of that conversation, that you're looking to increase your salary, and does he or she perhaps know how much is being set aside for raises this year? If the answer is "none" or "that's not how we do things," then you know where you stand, and you can start figuring out how to turn your hardware "gifts" into something more tangible. If you feel you're underpaid and want to bring more info to the table about how to normalize your salary, take a look at the Workplace.SE question: "I am being paid less than I would like, how can I change this?"

  • i would really love to upvote this but my repution lacks. thank you very much for your answer. we do have regular meetings and chats about performance and such, i guess i will soon ask to talk about this – user19105 Apr 29 '14 at 18:40

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