Negotiating Benefits Beyond Your Salary

women who ask

By the time you start negotiating your salary with your future employer, you’ve painted them a crystal clear picture of what kind of employee you would be. Between your resume, cover letter, and interviews, they understand the whole package of you as an employee. 

When you’ve reached this stage, they’re ready to hear about what you’d like in return from them. During negotiations, most people will only focus on their salary number as their main negotiating tool. But it’s a mistake to not consider the other forms of compensation your employer could offer you. You need to consider the entire package of your potential compensation plan the same way your employer just reviewed you as a potential hire. 

Leaving Benefits On the Table

Consider my client Megha’s story. In preparing to ask her boss for a raise, she decided to focus only on a base salary increase because she didn’t want other benefits to distract from her goal. However, unbeknownst to her, her boss’s hands were tied and he wouldn’t be able to give her a raise that year because of an HR policy and issues of internal equity.

Because she didn’t have that crucial bit of information, Megha stood firm by her salary requirements and decided that because they didn’t value her she would accept a different offer. She later learned she could have negotiated to have the company pay for a MBA program.  This would have made up for the shortfall in base salary and created a clear upward career path at the company, which she enjoyed working at. 

It’s understandable why we tend to focus on salary in our negotiations, but it shouldn’t distract us from being smart negotiators. Remember that there are always other benefits on the table that you could bring into a negotiation to improve your job satisfaction, increase your overall compensation, or make up for a base salary that might not be totally in line with your desired salary. 

A smart way to think about your compensation package is to figure that your salary should be about 70% with the other 30% being made up of other perks like health insurance, 401k contributions, travel stipends, and more. 

Don’t Think “Salary,” Think “Compensation Package”

Of course, salary is important and there are a few ways to ensure that you get the best salary you deserve. But there are definitely many other aspects of your job and benefits package that you can discuss during a “salary” negotiation that can give you greater opportunities in your new position, create a lifestyle you’re more happy with, and provide you with far greater value than your salary alone. 

Job Satisfaction

As you’re learning about this new position, probe to understand how you’ll spend your day so that you can ensure that your compensation and job title are well-aligned. Look for opportunities to do the work that engages you. Can you claim ownership of the next big make-or-break project? And don’t forget to consider who you’ll be spending your day with. Ask to work on that coveted project with the new hotshot senior executive.     

Career Growth Opportunities 

You may be able to negotiate benchmarks for review and growth with your new employer that can make future conversations about compensation easier. Are there more responsibilities that could be added over time that could lead to an increase in your pay? Is there a track to follow within the company that will allow you to grow with them and receive an increase in compensation at each level? 

Job Titles & Job Duties

An often overlooked area of negotiation is your actual job title and the responsibilities that go with it. Consider the difference between a coordinator and a manager. A coordinator is technically lower on the totem pole, but perhaps there’s no one technically above you and a manager title would make more sense. Ask for the manager title and the salary that goes with it and improve how you’re viewed within your own company. And, you’ll set yourself up for better paying jobs in the future. 

You can also discuss the actual responsibilities for the job during your negotiation. Maybe you know there’s a project you’d like to be a part of or a particular skill set you’re particularly adept at—let the hiring manager know that you’re hoping to get that experience under your belt. Part of the negotiation process can be making sure the role you get is definitely the role you want.

Vacation

Added vacation time is a great perk to negotiate when it seems like your employer may be less flexible about your salary number. Be prepared for some pushback here! A lot of corporations set lower vacation packages for new employees, but if you’ve got the experience they’re looking for and if you had more vacation time at your previous position, you can use that as leverage in your negotiation. 

Work Location, Travel, and Flexibility

If your position can be done remotely, you can try to negotiate where you work. Perhaps you can negotiate working from home on Fridays or working from home after hours (or early mornings) to make childcare obligations you may have. If you do need to be in the office, you can negotiate a stipend that will cover your commuting expenses so you will at least not have to sink any of your net pay into subway passes or tanks of gas.

Don’t be discouraged if this doesn’t pan out initially. Oftentimes, this kind of perk can be renegotiated later after you’ve developed an additional layer of trust with your employer.  

Professional Development Expenses  

Does the new company offer you opportunities to learn and grow? Could they offer you a stipend to attend conferences or will they cover tuition for an advanced degree? Negotiating a professional development perk in your compensation package can be seen as a win/win for everyone involved: the company gets to reap the benefits of your newfound skills and you get to show them off the next time you ask for a raise or look for a new job. 

Health Insurance Reimbursements and Wellness Programs

Is the company only offering individual coverage instead of the full family coverage you really need? Don’t be afraid to ask! One of my clients was able to successfully negotiate from employer paid coverage for just herself to full family coverage. 

You could also inquire about flex spending accounts (pre-tax dollars put aside to be used for medical, dental, or vision expenses), gym membership reimbursements, or any other programs they may have in place that rewards their employees for making healthy choices. 

Other Perks To Consider

There are a ton of additional perks that you could consider during your salary negotiation. Some may be more specific to an industry or a certain size company. Not all of these are things to actually negotiate, but to keep in the back of your mind while you’re evaluating potential offers. 

After doing your research to figure out what makes the most sense for your niche, keep in mind additional perks like:

    •    On-site cafeteria
    •    On-site parking
    •    Covering the cost of laptop, phone, or monthly phone charges
    •    Pay evaluation in the following quarter
    •    An overseas assignment
    •    More marketing experience
    •    Mentorship with one of the senior executives at the company

Always remember that you nabbed the job offer because the company wants you to work for them. They’re expecting you to negotiate and craft a compensation package that will make you happy to continue working for them long term.