Average Salary Increase for 2011 is 3 Percent

average salaryAccording to The Conference Board's annual salary increase budgets survey report projections for 2011 show a modest median salary increase, of 3 percent, slightly up from the 2.5 percent average increases in 2010. Salary increase budgets represent the pool of money that an organization dedicates to salary increases for the coming year excluding overtime, bonuses, etc.

The report states that the largest year-over-year projected increases are in the diversified services industry, where the projected 2011 median salary increase budget is 0.5 to 3 percentage points higher than the actual 2010 budget; and in the diversified financial services industry, where the projected 2011 median salary increase budget is 0.5 or 0.63 percentage point higher than the actual 2010 budget.

Sectors projecting lower increases in 2011 include:

  1. Transportation industry -- expected to have the lowest median salary increase budget for 2011: 2.25 percent for exempt employees and executives.
  2. Insurance industry -- expected to have below the 3 percent median overall forecast increase for non-exempt salaried, exempt, and executives.
  3. Banking sector -- reported the lowest projected 2011 increase for non-exempt, hourly employees.

How to increase your chances of a bigger raise

Companies will continue to reward pay for performance, and employees can increase their chances of optimizing their merit increase by exceeding employer expectations for performance. Here are a few suggestions for how you can stand out from the average performer and potentially get a higher merit increase in 2011.

1. Document your accomplishments regularly throughout the year.

Keep track of all the projects you manage. Upon completion of each assignment, write a note to yourself detailing your contribution and how your efforts helped the company make money, save money, save time, grow the business, or retain customers. Quantify your accomplishments with dollars, percentages, and other appropriate metrics. Actively seek out opportunities to improve efficiencies and profits regardless of the task at hand. By showing and quantifying your specific value add, you build a better business case to support the requested salary increase.

2. Become hard to replace.

Create opportunities to diversify your experience by offering to learn how to perform tasks that support your main role and make you more efficient at what you do. An alternative strategy is to become an expert in one specific aspect of the job so you are seen as the "go-to-guy" for a particular type of information. No want wants to lose the "go-to-guy," because then they have to take ownership of an additional task.

3. Take on tasks that no one else wants to do.

This does not mean taking on grunt work. It might just mean mastering a new technology that no one else feels comfortable with or taking on an assignment that is outside of the traditional scope of the job. Employees who demonstrate this level of flexibility tend to get more flexibility from their bosses on other issues, including compensation.

4. Accept high-profile assignments close to review time.

Since it is easier for people to remember what has happened most recently, why not take on an important assignment to coincide with an upcoming review? The project is bound to become a focal point of the performance review discussion, and the boss can quickly remember and document the achievements relevant to the project.

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