We all know about the current ongoing crisis within our industry regarding pay. With all industries, we expect some various levels of pay. Nobody is expecting a premier league grounds manager to be earning the same as a local sports maintenance manager. However, year on year, recommended pay scales are published from the relevant associations within grounds and greenkeeping around the world. This information is widely available yet rarely used. How can we use this information to ensure we’re being paid a fair wage depending on our experience, position, skills, qualifications and responsibility?
You can find many articles online discussing how to tackle this subject, but this article will be based solely on greenkeeping and grounds management.
Asking your employer for a pay rise can be nerve-wracking, so much so that some people will wait a long time before asking for what they feel they deserve.
There’s nothing wrong with asking for a pay raise that reflects the hard work that you do, but there are some approaches and best practises that always get better results than others. Your manager will have the data on the hard work you have been doing, but preparing a case to put before them will greatly help your chances of securing a pay rise or even better benefits such as healthcare, free gym memberships or shortened hours.
Be prepared to negotiate. Put simply: you get paid for the work that you do, and if you feel as though you’ve outgrown your salary working above and beyond your role, you have the right to ask to be compensated for it.
How to Prepare
Prior to entering this conversation, you should prepare the facts and data you feel you’ll need to prove your worth. Not all workers have great relationships with their managers, and even if you do, your manager will be expecting you to prove that you deserve the salary you’re asking for and might not respond favourably if it seems like you did not prepare.
Research is key: Look online for published pay scales. The GMA have allowed us to share their recommended pay scales below. While looking at the recommended wages, should you discover that the industry average wage for your role is higher than your current wage, you’re within your rights to bring this information into the meeting with you.
The GMA recommended national basic salary bands for 2020 in the UK are:
Deputy head groundsperson/sole charge
£16,303 (Age 17)
Junior groundsperson (aged 16)
These bands reflect the minimum recommended basic salary payment and are based on a 37.5-hour week. Bonuses, overtime and subsistence payments have not been included and are therefore additional.
Regional pay variations have been taken into account, with higher-cost areas of the country expected to make salary awards at the upper levels of the appropriate band. Regional differentials are: London Inner £3,941; London Outer £2,353; Fringe Areas £704 – £1,413. Other UK regions are broadly similar in their pay levels.
More information regarding the GMA recommended salaries can be found here.
It’s also important not to make this conversation all about the money. Sometimes, there are genuine, simple reasons why you may not get a pay rise, such as a lack of available budget. However, just because your employer has said ‘no’ to a pay rise doesn’t mean you can’t enquire about non-financial benefits as an alternative. I’ve written more about this towards the end of the article.
Build Your Case
Look back to projects and periods of time where you went above and beyond what was expected and provided real value for your company. Always use specific performance data when possible. This could be anything from servicing machines in-house rather than paying an external company. You don’t need a script, but it’s important to know what case you have to put forward in detail.
Be realistic when building your case. Demanding your salary be doubled is unlikely to get you anywhere. Carefully suggesting increments until you meet recommended bands, however, may be an option. Bear in mind the research you have done into comparable salaries in other organisations, and that your employer does not have to agree to giving you any more money. If you want your request to be taken seriously, you need to deliver it right.
List things such as qualifications, years of experience, tournament or overseas experience and training. Sharing as much detail as possible. An example of this could be: ‘Passing my chainsaw certificates has allowed us to save money on tree surgery – here are the estimated saved figures.’ But remember the flipside is that it takes time away from the job that you’d usually be doing.
Additional hours worked, unsociable hours, high expectations and pressure are all valid points when building your case. Use these carefully. Don’t just ask to work fewer hours; explain why, how this would benefit the company, and what measure would need to be put into place. This may be additional staff or lower standards, for example.
Prepare for tricky questions: These questions won’t be to throw you off guard, but may be asked to justify your points raised. How much of a pay rise are you proposing? Why hasn’t this been brought up before? Be confident and stand by your statements.
When to ask for a pay rise: This is just as important as the preparation. Asking for a pay rise just after yearly budget reviews won’t do you any favours unless contingency is already planned. The best time would be well in advance so this can be budgeted for.
Of course, the time of day and mood of those involved will also play a huge impact. Consider towards the end of the day. That way, if you don’t get the results you expected, you won’t need to carry this through the working day. Pick a time when your manager or employer is happy. Asking for a pay rise during a busy period or after bereavement should be avoided. Schedule in advance, pick a good day for all involved and send a polite invite: ‘Dear sir or madam, I would like to request a meeting,’ is all it needs to be.
Another great time to ask for a pay rise is during an annual performance review or appraisal, when the topic of salary is not only timely, but often expected.
Additionally, after successfully completing an important project or showing excellent work, you may also see it suitable to ask for a pay rise. Appraisals can be a fantastic opportunity to assess the previous year’s performance against the aims and objectives set by your employer. This information can then be used to build a case towards your pay rise. It’s likely others will be asking for pay rises around the same time – however appraisals are typically taken into account during budget reviews.
Using your appraisal or review you can set aims and objectives for the next one. Once these have been met pay rises may be offered depending on the terms you agree on with your manager. Worth thinking about future targets ahead of the meeting.
Think carefully about when to ask for a pay rise. Don’t shout the subject publicly as it will put your manager on the spot and will appear unprofessional; an appraisal, review or other formal meeting is the ideal setting for this conversation.
Request additional responsibilities
Taking on other roles such as spray technician or tree surgeon, or even offering to look after specific areas may help fight your case. Taking on a supporting role for a manager will also help; your manager should be thankful for this (providing you did a good job!). Some responsibilities may be irrelevant, but asking for training in these areas is only a positive.
Set milestones and additional projects – things that stand out and give the impression you are working to the best of your ability, helping the company move forward and even save money.
If things don’t quite go your way, remember there are things you can still request, alongside more holidays and better staff facilities to improve the workplace. Training can be one of the biggest catapults toward your next job or a higher position. Below is a list of typical additional training options for a greenkeeper or grounds manager:
Qualifications Level 2 up to college/university.
Spraying certificates Pa1, Pa2 and Pa6.
Chainsaw CS30 + depending on the type of work you are doing. For felling, you’ll require CS31/32. Climbing will also require additional training and certificates.
Tractor and implement courses.
Hedge cutter certificates.
Machinery maintenance course.
Specific training, cricket, winter sports and artificial preparation and maintenance.
This list is by no means exhaustive. There may be other more relevant courses such as working around water, alongside busy roads or even unrelated training that is part of your job role. Many groundsmen have to take on additional responsibilities.
Finally if all doesn’t go well, don’t burn bridges. Despite your best efforts, you may not be able to successfully negotiate the pay rise you wanted, which can happen often within our industry. You may decide you feel undervalued by your employer and may begin to show emotion towards the job.
However, it’s important you remain professional. If you decide to look for another job, not only will you want your employer to write you a glowing reference, but who knows when your paths may cross again in the future? Our industry is very close-knit; someone you work alongside may become a future manager, so even if you move on, you can’t rule out working with them again elsewhere.
At the very least, you should attempt to leave the door open. It might be worth approaching the subject again in six months’ time.