How to ask for, and get a pay raise as a Housekeeper

Housekeeper Photo

People depend on you, whether it be for business trips or highly anticipated vacation time, and they expect the best conditions at their hotel.  As customers enter and exit their rooms, they smile at the fact they become magically cleaned by you!  However, even though  you have been consistently keeping customers happy, your base salary may be remaining the same.  How can this be?  Most likely, you are suffering from a lack of mobility, stemming from not knowing how to increase your salary.  However, we are here to give you guidelines to plan, ask, and achieve a pay raise! 

Firstly, are you currently underpaid?

Before deciding that you deserve more money, it’s important to assess the current job market to determine if you are actually being underpaid. Whilst this isn’t crucial when asking for a pay raise, it will help you considerably when making your case.

Things to Consider:

Supply and Demand

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the housekeeper industry has approximately 922,600 employees across America where the mean hourly wage is $10.45.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics also shows the highest percentage of housekeepers are located along the western and eastern coastal regions.  

Following the trend of supply and demand, cities have a much higher population density and thus higher distributions of jobs and higher salaries compared to other counties in their respective states.

However, along the southeast and central coast lines, housekeepers are paid lower wages.  This is due to having areas of rural concentrations and also laws in these states that have a lower minimum wage.

Industry Trends 

The graphs below show the salary outlook within 2010-2016.  The trend shows that the salary has been slowly increasing and going to be gaining a higher median due to higher influx in travel and higher minimum wage laws.  In addition, more people are  becoming aware of tipping housekeepers.  If you want tips on how to get those extra tips check out our article especially made for housekeepers on how to earn more tips.

Making a case for your pay raise 

Having extra training or even a certificate from the Cleaning Management Institute (CMI) can dramatically increase your ability to ask for a pay raise if you are early on in your career.  If you are later in your career, Payscale shows that you can be entitled to a 23% increase in wages and 14% increase for being an experienced worker.  Having great customer service and cleaning skills can give you a boost of 53% and 42% respectively.  Being able to differentiate yourself from your colleagues by having knowledge in other languages can further increase your desirability as languages are hard to learn.  Other values can be seen in your work ethic, ideas for improvement, and even attending housekeeping conferences/starting a social media channel informing people of common mistakes inexperienced housekeepers make.

When determining your value to your employer it is ideal to make a list. The list should showcase how the skills you have now far exceed the skills when the company hired you and that you have earned the right to ask for a raise.  If you show up and do the same list of tasks at the same speed with no improvement, you can’t request more compensation.  Additionally, pay should be baked into your value.  You should be able to show that the pay you get per hour reflects the value of improvements and speed you do tasks.  For example, if you do your necessary cleaning tasks and in your spare time to read books/listen to podcasts about leadership and managing people and apply these skills, your manager would be more inclined to listen to your request.  Additionally, starting a program educating younger housekeepers about techniques to use different chemicals and how to clean more efficiently will show your employer you have immense communication skills that deserve to be rewarded.  All of these value-adding activities are key to making you an indispensable component to your company.

After determining the values you bring to your company, compare your salary range with the current market rate.  Find the wage ranges through websites such as Glassdoor which have a Know Your Worth™ salary estimator, and LinkedIn Salary with their crowdsourced data.  By giving your job title, location, years of experience, and a few other variables you can get a good understanding of the current market, which allows you to put together a report to show your manager.  A good hourly pay median to look at is shown below.

After looking at compensation, housekeepers especially should see which benefits they would like added.  The figure below from Payscale shows average benefits for other housekeepers.

Never back away from benefits as they can cut your costs drastically!  Since 61% of housekeepers do not receive benefits, obtaining any medical, dental, or vision care can help you and your family reduce annual overall health costs and be able to afford much needed check ups.  Medical protections are especially key due to the dusty and sometimes moldy atmosphere that can be left behind in hotel rooms.

Also, do not be afraid to ask both what your peers make or your manager what the annual increase of wages for your title has been in the company.  Let’s say housekeepers at your company received an average of 2% more last year, a 10% raise would seem ridiculous.  Be sure to keep your value in mind and maybe ask for a 3%-5% raise whilst listing out your case.

When’s the best time to ask for a pay raise?

Once your case for the raise and compensation you want added has been ironed out, it’s time to figure out the best time to ask for your pay increase. The first step should be to find out when your company’s fiscal budget is being planned out so you can be sure your raise will be included in the next cycle.  Be sure to also keep these four timing strategies in mind:

  • Annual Performance Reviews
    • This is the most natural time for the conversation to come up.  It is often expected at this time and both you and your manager can be prepared to negotiate salaries.
  • After completing an important project 
    • By doing an excellent job bringing in new clients or with a new social media campaign/award, managers will be impressed with your recent performance and be more inclined to raise your salary to keep you. Raises are typically a reward for great achievement after all.
  • When a manager is happy 
    • Asking for a raise during hectic or stressful periods will guarantee your manager will be short on time and be losing patience.  Waiting for these times to blow over and for your manager to be happy with recent results will allow for success.
  • Economic Booms/Hotel Notoriety Rises 
    •  Asking for a raise when the markets are up or when your hotel has performed at historic highs are both perfect times to ask for a raise.  There will be a lot of free cash available and managers will be more willing to keep their experienced staff who have helped build relations with clients.

In most cases, you should not ask for a raise more than once a year.  There are exceptions to this, such as if your employer did not give you a raise you asked five months prior, but promised to revisit the issue in another month after reviewing performance goals or available funding. If your performance has been increasing steadily each year, it is more than acceptable to ask for a raise each year in compensation for the value you are adding.

 Another consideration to keep in mind is your manager’s personality.  If they do not like beating around the bush, make an appointment with a clear subject like “I am hoping we can sit down, and I would like to make the case to you for revisiting my salary”.  In this case, be straightforward  and make your manager aware of the value-adding activities you are doing and how your skills have improved since you last visited this topic.

How should you request your pay increase?

After your case and timing strategy have been planned out you should brush up on what not to do and what to do while negotiating. 

What NOT to do when asking for a pay increase:

  • Apologise when asking 
    • Apologising shows you are willing to back down whilst negotiating your proposed salary.  You are confident in your skills and value in the first place so do not back down on the salary you calculated.  Negotiation is a part of business and there are no hard feelings.
  • ‘No’ and other negative words 
    • When discussing, steer clear of negative words which will slow negotiations down and make collaboration difficult. If you are negative or defensive, the chances are your employer will act the same way.
  • Later – “I can deal with this part later…”
    • This is for the procrastinators out there. It may be easier to avoid uncomfortable parts of negotiations by pushing them away to a later date, but this can be a costly mistake.  By saving harder parts for later, you will not have as much leverage to improve your position.
  • “Can we try…”
    • By having passive words such as ‘can’, you leave a lot of wiggle room for your manager to take control of negotiations.  You don’t want to TRY; you want to DO. Using positive language such as “I would be comfortable..”  gives more open-ended leverage and calls for a reasonable discussion. 
  • Want 
    • Using ‘want’ can undercut the premise of your argument that you deserve to be paid more and instead seem as though you’re making demands.  Go into a negotiation with the facts and make a compelling case with your research and achievements.

What you SHOULD do when asking for a pay increase:

  • Be clear
    • Begin the discussion by stating how excited you are to work and grow the company, and how you would love to discuss salary.  Be clear about what you deserve for your new salary and other pertinent details.
  • Be specific 
    • Mention your desired salary and specifically outline how you came to this.  Bring a copy of your estimate you created and cite your skills and achievements.
  • Be confident 
    • An employer will be uncomfortable about giving you a pay raise if you are unsure of yourself. If you are nervous beforehand, consider exercises to help you feel more confident such as practicing power poses
  • Express gratitude and appreciation
    • Be appreciative of what you currently have at the company, you don’t want to see, unappreciative, but you still need to address your desires.
  • Express enthusiasm 
    • Sharing excitement for future goals for yourself, family, and the company is a good way to show you are invested in doing well at your job, and that you aren’t looking to leave anytime soon.

If your boss asks how much you want directly throughout the year be sure to justify the raise.  Cite recent accomplishments and quantify your value with data, awards, and accolades.  Be sure to bring up the raise logically and tactfully to justify your request.

What happens if you don’t get a pay raise?

Rejection is hard to hear, but do not let it discourage you!  Reply with, “What else would it take for me to earn a raise in the future?” If your manager is unable to tell you, it is a big indicator that your manager is either bad at setting guidelines for mobility and/or your company is structured poorly.  If your boss does offer an explanation, know exactly how to step up your game for the next time!  Set up a plan with your boss with a specific timetable and goals mapped out for you to reach your desired salary.  You can even negotiate for benefits instead of pay if there is no way a salary can be increased right now.  These can be additional vacation time, a title change or more paid sick days.  It is also beneficial to ask if there is any training (paid or unpaid) you could do to help reach your goal or new assignments/responsibilities to take on that will make you more valuable to the company.

If that does not work you can still have other options.  One option is to make money through earning more tips – we’ve written a guide for housekeepers looking to increase their tips, which you can read here. If that doesn’t help, and you are still not satisfied, look on Glassdoor or other job boards near you to find other hotels that offer higher pay and benefits.  Be sure to read reviews about the company’s culture too!


The key to obtaining a raise as a housekeeper is creating a case that includes all the value-adding activities you have been performing, statistics from websites and peers about pay adjustments based on the values, and expert knowledge of the timing to ask.  By applying these great tips and showing confidence in your abilities, you will be able to get a raise in no time!  Having a backup plan ready in case your boss rejects your initial plan is key, and be sure to find out how you can increase your salary, one way or another through waiting for another time with new skills outlined, gaining more side income from tips, or finding a new company.

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