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Employee pay reviews can be a difficult, and sometimes emotionally-charged process. Usually conducted annually, or in some cases every six months, pay reviews can be seen as the most tangible reflection of an employee’s performance. Everyone wants their work to be recognised, and everyone wants to be paid more.

So it’s not surprising that pay reviews can have a huge impact on employee morale. In fact, research for our HR Priority Report found that 37% of employees who were considering leaving their jobs cited poor pay as a reason. This is why it’s so important to get the process right.

Conducting pay reviews is a process that deserves real attention and forethought, making sure that even if employees don’t get the bump they were hoping for, they still feel appreciated, respected, and listened to. Here are some of our key tips on improving pay reviews. 

Share a pay review calendar

Our first piece of advice? Don’t leave people in the dark. By sharing the key dates of the pay review, employees know what to expect and when. This isn’t the time for surprises. Your calendar can sit within your employee engagement platform providing relevant process information and other help for your people.


Prepare clear and easy to understand pay review process guidelines

People learn in different ways. Providing process guidelines that are visual as well as written makes content more accessible and digestible. In the example above we converted a heavy text document into step-by-step chunks with process flows to aid understanding.

Change our tone and improve letters sent to employees

Managers usually opt for a formal tone of voice when communicating pay review messages with their team. This can be jarring if the rest of your communications take a warm, friendly tone. Learn how we developed our own internal communications tone of voice at Reward Gateway.

Softening the tone and making it recognisable can have a huge impact on improving pay reviews because employees recognise the voice – it’s not an unknown entity telling them the outcome of a very personal and serious matter. 

Similarly, we suggest avoiding collective messages and taking the time to contact every employee individually. It helps your people feel valued, and that whatever the outcome of the pay review it shows you considered their position personally.

Create a pay review guide

Creating a massive guide on employee pay reviews might seem helpful, but we all know that when your employees open it there is only really one thing they want to know: ‘How much am I going to get paid next year?’

So keep things simple, and tailored to each individual. Let them know what their change in pay will be, and what in their performance has impacted this change. All the other information can be hosted on your intranet so that it’s available should anyone need extra clarification on the process.

The value of all the other information in the letter was lost. So, we changed it. We ensured all the information provided in the letter was personal and specific to the employee and any overall process information was hosted on our engagement platform on our digital pay review guide.


Publish your pay philosophy

It’s always good to start with “why.” Improving knowledge on a subject is a great way to make an experience more comfortable for people. If you understand why something is the way it is, or if you know what the reasons are behind a process, then you are less likely to fear or be confused by it.

When carrying out employee pay reviews, you want everyone to understand your philosophy on pay, how pay works and what happens during an annual pay review.

Your team needs to be confident when they speak up about pay, and have a well-informed understanding and perspective as to why it works like this.

We understand that if you want your people to make the same decisions that you’d make, you need to share the same information that you have.

Recognise that it's a sensitive subject

With the cost-of-living crisis hitting households hard, money is going to be a big focus for your employees. You’ll have to prepare yourself for the fact that even if you offer a pay increase above inflation, some people are still going to feel worse off.

Don’t ignore this fact. It can feel belittling to the person checking their payslip every month. A good way to help out employees who are feeling the financial bite is to introduce an employee discounts scheme to help them get more out of their money each month.

Speak to one of our team today to discover how you can better support the financial wellbeing of your employees.

Talk to an Engagement Consultant »

Nebel Crowhurst

Nebel Crowhurst is the Chief People Officer at Reward Gateway, delivering a People Strategy that supports overall success and helps RGers thrive. She also maintains a blog called Dream Big : Believe Bigger and loves to read in her spare time.

Chief People Officer

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