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It’s common to think that workplace negotiations always involve salary, but having such a narrow focus can limit your career growth. Looking at other employee benefits available to you gives you more ways to negotiate, and can be a great way to avoid feeling stuck at work.
Exploring your options can take some work, but it’s worth it since many companies offer a variety of attractive perks. These negotiables may include professional development opportunities, flexible work/life balance, or more “tangible” things like financial reimbursements. Here are some of the things to ask for and negotiation tips to help you get them.
Project placement - While titles and salaries are inevitable factors in your career journey, positioning yourself to help with a project typically “above your paygrade” can help jump-start your next promotion. Asking for and capitalizing on a specific project shows your ambition while providing an opportunity to prove your worth.
Tuition reimbursement - Your employer may offer this benefit to help offset their team members’ education expenses. Although you’ll initially pay out of pocket, employees may see some or all of their tuition costs covered at the end of a program. This is especially relevant during a time when “the college degree is becoming the new high school diploma,” according to a New York Times article.
Professional development opportunities - Many organizations will budget for “PD” opportunities ranging from specific industry/discipline classes to speakers, conferences and seminars. Since it’s a win-win for both employee and employer and shows your interest in improving career skills, asking for paid professional development might be one of the safer “asks” in workplace negotiations.
Wellness programs and perks - Whether your employer subsidizes a monthly gym membership, pays for yoga/training classes or offers rewards for reaching healthy benchmarks, wellness perks are more common than ever before. According to a recent Forbes article, companies are recognizing they need some type of wellness initiative to stay current and competitive. You can’t do your job right if you’re not at work or performing at the highest level due to your health and wellness.
Schedule flexibility (hours and location) - Unless you’re happy working the same hours at the same space every day of your job, you’re probably interested in negotiating “flex time” or remote work options. Once typical “9 to 5” jobs are becoming less and less standard, with many companies allowing employees to designate work from home days or occasionally alter when they start and end their work days.
Transportation or parking reimbursement - If you’re a regular commuter, why not ask for transportation reimbursement to help you get to and from the place you’re working? If you drive to work, employers may help offset gas and/or parking costs, while urban commuters may get their public transportation costs reimbursed or subsidized.
Physical office/work space - Setting yourself up for success means actually creating an environment for success. If you’re looking for a more comfortable, productive work setting, talk to your employer about your physical space. You may even be able to tie this into a conversation about flexible scheduling/location (i.e. working from home or remotely) to help change-up your surroundings.
Plan and prepare for what’s on – and off – the table - Take the time to research what you want and decide if each item is a realistic option, then prioritize your perks. You want to avoid asking for things that are off limits due to strict company or legal factors, like disability coverage or 401(k) contributions which are more pre-determined than the list of negotiables above.
Look over a total package breakdown - Ask your current or prospective employer for a complete list of benefits that match your current or desired position. This will help you get a big-picture understanding of what’s already in place for you versus things you aim to add. You may even see benefits that you didn’t know were available, and therefore won’t want to ask for in negotiations.
Analyze the field - Research is your best resource when negotiating at work. Analyzing the common benefit options for your industry could sway the conversation in your favor. Compare what you’re looking for with what you’re finding is available to other employees in similar positions.
Keeping in mind that negotiations may not feel like the most comfortable conversation, be polite and firm in what you’re asking to ensure both sides reach a good conclusion at the end of the conversation(s). Be prepared, be confident and remember the negotiation process is an investment in your daily happiness and career goals.