Negotiating for Workplace Benefits
Improve a job offer by thinking beyond your salary.
It’s a job seeker’s market. The Great Resignation, which began in April 2021, has seen Americans leave their jobs by the millions, often in search of greener pastures. It has also produced a labor crunch, often leaving employers desperate to fill positions across industries. As a result, employees are in a good position to negotiate for higher salaries and workplace benefits with new or prospective employers.
Before you hit the negotiating table, here’s what you need to consider:
Know what you’re worth
If you’re competent, reliable, and easy to work with, then you’re a valuable asset for your current or new employers. Go into your negotiation with a clear understanding of what skills you bring to the business. Be ready to frame salary and benefits as an investment in these skills and even as tools that will increase your productivity by allowing you the flexibility to manage your schedule or providing resources for career development, for example.
Know what’s available
Some formal benefits may be impossible to negotiate because your employer simply doesn’t offer them. For example, if your employer doesn’t have a tuition reimbursement program already in place, don’t expect to negotiate one into existence — at least not immediately.
Before negotiations begin, get to know what benefits are available. Ask a company about:
Ask about a defined contribution retirement plan and health insurance options when considering a new job, but know that the terms of these plans are not usually negotiable.
Get more out of your benefits
If it’s starting to look like your employer has run out of room in their budget to expand your benefits, focus on items that don’t require more money in the immediate future. Improve your quality of life by pushing for flexible scheduling options. Increase the value of your resume by upgrading your job title. You may even wish to focus on your severance package, which doesn’t cost your employer anything immediately. However, it helps ensure job security and that you’ll be taken care of should your employer need to let you go.
Be sure to consider how increased benefits might affect your financial plan. For example, will a signing bonus or salary increase allow to boost retirement savings? Or will vesting stock options bump you into a higher tax bracket in certain years? Your financial advisor can help you integrate your new benefits package into your financial plan.