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Dear Heidi: Should I ask for a raise during the pandemic? Or should I wait?

Updated: May 19, 2020

Our company has laid off quite a few people because of COVID-19, and I’m doing tasks that two other people once did.I don’t want my boss to conveniently forget all of my hard work once things return back to normal. Or worse, just assume that since I’ve been doing certain things, it’s okay for me to keep doing them without additional compensation. Thoughts?

I feel that under these truly, unprecedented times, your extra efforts are likely appreciated and noted. Yet you feel you are under-compensated, having taken extra work. In this rare circumstance of the COVID crisis, I believe you need to look at the greater good — for this moment — and think about your personal compensation a bit later, if possible. This does not mean that you should do the work of two, and be paid for one. Rather, take a good look at your company, at your industry, and determine the financial climate. Are they struggling badly, or are you in one of the few industries that are thriving right now?

If you feel your company or industry is barely hanging on, now may not be the time to ask for a raise. The money simply may not be there. Be in tune with what’s happening, and be realistic. However, while you are a team player, you still have responsibilities and bills to pay. If you personally are struggling, then perhaps it’s time to candidly speak to your boss and explain your situation. Good leaders are more empathetic than ever, and because of your commitment and hard work, if your boss can help, my guess is that he or she will.

Regardless of your decision to ask for a raise or not, please remain respectful and mindful that every one of us on this planet is doing our best to navigate our new, and unknown world. Even in these anxious days, full of stress and financial hardships, we all still have the power to be kind — heck, it’s free.


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