After years of paltry wage increases that barely keep pace with inflation, it looks like employees would be willing to take some desperate steps to achieve a significant pay bump.

Just how much would workers be willing to give up for a fatter paycheck?

Who needs health care, SSI or voting right?

LendEDU recently polled 1,238 U.S. workers and asked them what they’d be willing to sacrifice for a 10% pay raise. Here are their responses:

  • 88.6% would stop watching “Game of Thrones” for life
  • 73.4% would give up all alcoholic beverages for the next five years
  • 55.9% would work an extra 10 hours per week for life (even though that probably takes the “raise” out of the equation)
  • 53.6% would give up all social media for five years
  • 50.7% would give up watching movies for the next three years
  • 50.4% would work one day every weekend for the next year
  • 47.7% would give up all caffeinated products for the next two years
  • 43.9% would give up exercise for the next five years
  • 34.9% would “give up the right to vote in all elections for life”
  • 18.9% would give up access to health insurance for the next five years
  • 17.9% would give up Social Security benefits for the next two years
  • 15.3% would give up all of their vacation days for the next five years
  • 12.2% would break up with their partner or significant other
  • 9.1% would give up their child’s or future child’s right to vote in all elections for life, and
  • 5.3% would eat a single Tide Pod.

No laughing matter

While this study was clearly conducted mainly for entertainment purposes, it’s no laughing matter when staffers march into HR demanding a raise and the company simply doesn’t have the funds to accommodate them.

While there’s no way to guarantee employees’ feelings don’t get hurt, there are certain things HR pros can do to minimize the damage. Here are five of those tactics:

1. Consider the offer carefully. A hasty denial is a surefire way to offend or insult the employee. Reason: It looks like the request is simply being blown off. Instead, allow the employee to make his or her case and listen attentively.

2. Ask about the details. Has the employee taken on more responsibilities that you weren’t aware of? Has his or her pay fallen well below the market rate? Even if you can’t bump up pay right now, it’s good to have that info on file for when you can.

3. Break down the decision. Carefully explain why the raise request is being denied and offer details if performance is a major factor. Good employees will appreciate the feedback and make the necessary changes.

4. Use work as a “reward.” If an employee needs to bolster performance to earn a raise in the future, give that staffer a project where they need to develop new skills and priorities.

5. End it on a high note. Let the employee know you appreciate the initiative he or she took with the request, and do what you can to lift the person’s understandably low spirits before he or she leaves the meeting.

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