As many residents and business owners in the Seattle area know, the price of living in this area has recently skyrocketed.  As we continue to see housing prices increase, chances are that employers will also notice an increase in the amount of employees requesting raises to keep up with the cost of living and working in such an expensive area.  Without increasing wages, many workers will be forced to relocate to less expensive areas, decreasing the talent pool in Seattle.

The “Livability Survey for Puget Sound Millennials” that was recently conducted by Forterra (a regional sustainability nonprofit organization) found that nearly half of the millennials in the Seattle area are considering moving to less expensive areas, even though 87% said that they would ideally like to stay in the Seattle area long term.  As you hear more employees complaining about their finances and asking for raises, remember that giving appropriate raises is one way to decrease turnover and retain your valued employees who may be rethinking their financial ability to stay in the area.

As you are faced with raise requests, consider the following reasons that employers typically choose to give raises and how you can use them to retain your valued employees.


Market adjustment:  If your employee is serious about getting a raise, they will have done their research and will come into a meeting prepared to show you the comparable salaries that other companies in the same industry are offering their employees.  If an employee has done their research and found that their counterparts at other companies are making more, it is time to consider the value of that employee.  If they are a highly valued employee, it may be time to adjust their pay to stay completive and keep them from finding employment elsewhere.

Performance:  Performance based raises are typically conducted annually and the employee’s performance over the period of an entire year is evaluated.  When evaluating their performance, keep in mind any major accomplishments that they have had in addition to if they have mastered their current duties and taken on new responsibilities.  Through performance assessments, employees are given a rating based on their successes and areas that require improvement and their raise is then based on that rating.  Not only do these performance based raises reward employees for their hard work, but they also provide an incentive for employees to work towards throughout the year.

Cost of living raises:  Along with performance based raises, some companies decide to factor in the cost of living when they are assessing employees and reviewing their annual performance.  In areas such as Seattle where the cost of living has increased dramatically, it is important to consider giving your employees cost of living raises to keep talented employees at your company and in the area.

Responsibility change:  If you have an employee who has recently had a drastic change in their responsibilities, it may be time to consider a raise to accompany their new role.  A raise is not necessary for small responsibilities that are added over time; rather, it is geared towards substantial responsibility changes that essentially change their role in the company.


Unfortunately, not every request for a raise going to be able to be granted, and it is important to adhere to your company’s policies as well as using your best judgment.  When you are unable to grant a raise request, make sure that your employee feels heard and explain what they can do to earn a raise moving forward.  Include clear expectations in your explanation that will incentivize them rather than smother their morale.