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What to Consider When You Don’t Get the Pay Rise or Bonus You Expected

What to Consider When You Don’t Get the Pay Rise or Bonus You Expected

What to Consider When You Don’t Get the Pay Rise or Bonus You Expected

Covid-19 has changed the way we work, in terms of how we work and where we work, but it has also changed how we are measured and rewarded in the workplace, albeit possibly on a temporary basis. In the coming weeks, employees will see how the pandemic has influenced their remuneration on a fixed and variable basis. Depending on the sector within financial services, the impact may be substantial or minimal as companies of differentiating circumstances will look to retain their staff in different ways. With industry indicators showing an average 3-5% increase in salary, and deferred or non-bonus pay-outs likely to be common, the question to ask is…what should you consider when you don’t get the pay rise or bonus you expected?

For the most part, there are two options available to employees in this position:

Option 1 – leave your current employer in search of a more lucrative position; or
Option 2 – stay, show loyalty during these unusual times and hope to reap the rewards next year.
Deciding what to do next for your career is critical, particularly in current circumstances where the volume of jobs on the market have not returned to pre-pandemic times. In this article, Director Andrew Murphy shares 4 key points to consider when weighing up your next move.

The role challenges you; you have variety every day and you feel like you are learning and adding value. The pay rise/expected bonus would have been the ‘cherry on top’ but without getting what you hoped for, you still find job satisfaction in your daily responsibilities.


Speak to your manager. Having a discreet conversation in an emotionally intelligent way is key to finding out why you didn’t receive what you were expecting. Sometimes our own perception of our work and efforts can differ from that of our peers and managers. Other times, the reason behind a less-than-expected raise or bonus is tied to factors beyond your performance and more associated with factors within the business, particularly in the face of the pandemic.

Money ranks behind the challenge, job satisfaction and company culture in reasons for leaving, so moving for money would not be the best decision.

The person you report to has your best interests at heart and takes the time to work with you on developing and improving on your strengths. They are opening doors for you at a more senior level and you have a great working relationship. The company culture and job satisfaction are fine but you want to work for your manager/mentor more than the company.


Depending on the stage you are at in your career and the benefits you are seeing from working with your mentor will determine if this is reason enough to overlook a pay rise/expected bonus. If the person you work with is adding huge value to you and your career, then that will reflect later in terms of remuneration when those skills and experience start to pay dividends.

Money cannot buy the type of person who puts your career at the forefront of their mind. It is worth speaking to them, again discreetly, to get a sense of why you did not receive a rise/bonus, but if you feel there is more to be gained from working with this person then it may outweigh the disappointment.

You get to work from home when possible (even before Covid-19), you have flexible working hours which suits for managing responsibilities at home, and/or you get great additions to your salary such as health/dental/travel etc.


If these apply to your current place of work, then sacrificing them in search of a higher paying role or larger bonus % is something that needs serious consideration. Look at your life outside of the workplace and weigh up how that would be impacted if these benefits were no longer available to you. Not all companies offer flexible working hours or the ability to work from home in a Covid-19 free world, and for those with families or relatives in need of care, such options are sometimes priceless.

Having agreed to certain goals or milestones, you achieved everything on your part and are approaching the time for review of your salary/bonus with confidence. The bad news, however, is that you are not going to be getting what you expected, so what to do in this situation?


This scenario comes down to trust – trust of your boss and the business. There may be valid reasons outside of your control and you are not the only person in this position. Or is it a case that the company is doing well and what has been agreed to is simply not being followed through?

Once you have set out in a non-emotional way to gather some more information and facts, if the answer points to the latter then perhaps making a move to a company that will value your skills and attitude is the best option.

It is worth keeping in mind however, that a year ago, very few people would have predicted that Covid-19 would have such an impact worldwide. Promises may have been made but in current circumstances and as a result of the pandemic, perhaps they could not be met.

Of the scenarios outlined above, there will be no simple answer that points to a definitive action. The key is to take all points into consideration, step away from the monetary element for a moment and try to understand if your current environment is right for you at this moment in time and will ultimately benefit you and your career in the future. Once you have assessed this, only then can you weigh up how these rank against the disappointment of the financial reward. Making a knee-jerk decision based on monetary terms can often lead to a wrong move further down the line.

Covid-19 has had a massive impact on many companies, with some taking necessary measures to ensure business continuity. Before making any decisions to leave a company, the pandemic’s influence needs to be taken into consideration. It is also worth thinking about the possible challenges of starting a new role remotely, in terms of integrating into a remote culture or making an impact while working from home. If, however you are looking to make a move in financial services, our specialist consultants would be more than happy to have a confidential conversation about your next step.

For further advice post appraisals and bonus discussions, please connect with us for a confidential conversation at

William McCoppin


William has experience across multiple markets, specialising in compliance and financial crime at the interim, mid-to-senior and executive level.