Merit Increase

What Is A Merit Increase?

A merit increase refers to an increment in an employee's base salary that is granted based on their performance, achievements, and contributions to the company. It serves as a recognition and appreciation for outstanding achievements in the workplace. 

For instance, if an employee consistently exceeds their performance targets, takes on additional responsibilities, and contributes significantly to a project's success, they may be eligible for a merit increase during the annual performance review cycle.

The purpose of a merit increase is to acknowledge and reward employees for their outstanding performance and contributions to the organization. It helps to motivate employees, boost morale, and retain top talent.

What Is The Average Percentage Of A Merit Increase?

The average percentage for a merit increase varies by industry, location, and economic conditions. In the UAE and Saudi Arabia, for example, it may range from 5% to 10% of an employee's current salary.

HR and compensation teams usually consider compa-ratio, performance reviews over 1 or 2 years, previous pay increases, recent promotions, market data, and pay equity.

Merit increases are commonly given annually during the performance review cycle. However, some organizations may choose to conduct reviews and provide merit increases more frequently.

How Is Eligibility For A Merit Increase Determined?

Eligibility for a merit increase is typically determined through a formal performance evaluation process. Employees who demonstrate exceptional performance, meet, or exceed their goals, and make notable contributions to the organization are considered for merit increases.

What Is The Difference Between A Merit Increase And A Cost-Of-Living Adjustment (Cola)?

A merit increase is based on an employee's performance and contributions, while a cost-of-living adjustment is an incremental raise designed to counteract the effects of inflation on employees' purchasing power.

What Is The Difference Between A Merit Increase And A Raise?

A raise is a broader term that encompasses any increase in an employee's base salary, which may or may not be linked to their performance. Raises can be given for various reasons, such as cost-of-living adjustments, promotions, or other factors beyond performance alone.

In contrast, a merit increase is specifically tied to an employee's performance, achievements, and contributions to the organization. It is granted as recognition and reward for outstanding work, typically following a formal performance evaluation. 

Best Practices For Merit Increases:

Here are some of the best practices to implement a merit increase:

  • Determine eligibility for merit increases based on performance and contribution to the organization.
  • Establish clear and consistent merit metrics to objectively evaluate employees' performance.
  • Grade employees' goals to ensure fairness and consistency in the evaluation process.
  • Develop a transparent policy for merit increases and seek input from relevant parties for feedback and improvement.
  • Provide training to management to ensure they understand and apply the merit increase policy consistently and fairly.
  • Obtain recommendations for merit increases from employees' immediate supervisors, with final approval from department heads and the chief human resource officer.
  • Develop a compensation philosophy that outlines the organization's approach to merit increases and aligns them with overall business goals.
  • Clearly define the criteria employees must meet to earn a merit increase, ensuring it is universally applied across the organization.

A merit increase is distinct from a general pay raise, as it's specifically tied to outstanding performance rather than across-the-board adjustments. It reinforces a culture of excellence and provides employees with a clear incentive to consistently deliver their best. 

Organizations can motivate their workforce by aligning compensation with individual contributions, enhance job satisfaction, and ultimately drive overall organizational success.

Hire the best talent across MENA.
From a pool of 350,000+ top candidate