Recent Randstad Workmonitor research shows more Australian employees expect to receive a bonus or pay rise this year when compared to the same period last year.

However, with market uncertainty around the Australian economy still hovering over us as we head into 2016, and with 2015 wage growth at record low levels, employee expectation and business reality may be misaligned.

So what can you do to put your best foot forward and give yourself the best chance of being one of the lucky few who has their contribution financially recognized? Here are a few tips:

Be realistic

Do you have realistic expectations when average wage growth in Australia is currently sitting at 2.3 per cent? How is the company performing financially? Many people do not even take this into account when they start thinking of a pay rise, yet it will be hard to pitch as salary review if a company is not performing well, no matter how great a job you are doing. It is also important to do your research. We would all like to earn much more than we do, but what are the market rates in your industry? Find real examples, don’t rely on hearsay.

Build a business case

It’s a good idea the take some time to identify your achievements and the contributions you have made to the business’ success. This may include examples of where you have taken initiative, supported the team, increased business productivity and profitability and delivered more than is expected of you. Write down your examples so you can refer to them in a meeting.

Request a performance review

This is a good opportunity for you to receive feedback on how others perceive your performance and for you to present your case for a salary review in the right manner.

Be professional

State your case for a salary review in a calm an professional manner. You don’t want to come across as making demands or being too aggressive in your approach, but you also don’t want to come across as embarrassed about asking. The performance review is a good way to set the scene and that can enable you to make the transition to salary discussion by saying something like “so now that we have discussed my performance for last year, can we discuss how that might be reflected in my pay moving forward?”

Then let your manager respond and listen with an open mind. Don’t become agitated if your manager does not give you a pay rise. Instead, ask for feedback on why and what you need to do to be considered for a review and over what time period.

Have a backup plan

If your manager is unable to give you a pay rise, discuss what other options there may be to recognize your performance, such as more flexibility around work hours, time off, or perhaps an investment in training to lift your skills. This will give you and your manager an opportunity to explore alternatives to a pay rise and keep you both happy.

Good luck.