Things To Negotiate at a Job (Besides Money)

Things To Negotiate at a Job (Besides Money)

Everyone knows that a salary can be negotiable. What most employees don’t know is that almost everything is negotiable, within reason. 

Perks Employees Want the Most

Benefits and perks can be more important than salary for many workers. The majority of employees (62.3%) indicate that they would accept a lower salary in exchange for better workplace perks. 

What perks would most employees love to have? A survey from Staples reports that the perks that motivate employees include:

  • 38% feel that workplace flexibility is the most important.
  • 17.1% view the ability to regularly work remotely as the one perk that would convince them to stay at a company. 

The top must-have perks include:

  • Flexible hours (40.2%), paid insurance premiums (33.6%), and paid family leave (29.2%). 

What You Can Negotiate

If you’re starting a job or have proven yourself to be a valuable employee in a company, you can negotiate for anything from flexible work hours to office vending machines. “Most of the time, there’s no harm in asking,” said Amber Clayton, director of the Society for Human Resource Management HR Knowledge Center. 

Clayton spoke to Career Tool Belt about negotiating for things outside of salary or promotions and raises. Tips when negotiating for non-salary benefits:

Know what’s fixed vs. negotiable.

Typically, standard benefits packages like 401ks, paid leave, and insurance are fixed within the company. You may not be able to change these benefits right away since they apply to all employees.

However, it doesn’t hurt to put your opinion out there during negotiations. Employers have an incentive to hear you out, and may change their practices down the line. The company may be growing, allowing them to offer more benefits in the future. Things like paid leave might be considered on a case-by-case basis. 

“Employers should be looking at their benefits on a regular basis,” said Clayton. “They should be offering benefits that are competitive in the market.” 

If you have egregious performance issues, don’t bother.

New and highly valued employees have negotiating power. If you have documented performance or attendance issues, you should improve your standing in the company before attempting to negotiate, said Clayton.

Come prepared.

Find out what other companies are doing within your industry. Ask around. For example, if you’re hoping to work remotely, find examples of similar companies that have a remote policy. The requests should seem reasonable and beneficial for the company. 

“If an employee has needs, they should do their research,” said Clayton. 

Don’t ask for everything in one sitting.

Choose a few negotiation points that matter to you the most. Don’t ask for everything in one go, said Clayton. If you focus on a few things and hone your presentation, you have a better shot at getting those things. 

15 Things You Can Negotiate – Besides Money

Clayton listed 15 common negotiation requests that have nothing to do with salary, promotions, raises, bonuses, or stock options. But these items all have a profound impact on your work life.

1. Start date.

A job offer comes with a start date. However, the date is typically moveable. You likely can’t ask for an earlier date, but you may be able to delay your start date by a couple of weeks. For example, if you need more time to segue from your old job, or if you just want some time off between jobs, Clayton suggested negotiating your start date.

2. Flexibility

It is common to ask for flexible or reduced work hours, according to Clayton. With many companies emphasizing work-life balance, more employees are uninterested in clocking in and out on a strict schedule. Be prepared to demonstrate that you can complete your work and be responsive in the time allotted.

3. Remote work option.

In today’s workplace, working remotely is a particularly reasonable request. Be prepared for the challenges of workflow apps and video conferencing

“A lot of employers are allowing telework already, and employees will definitely be requesting it more,” said Clayton.

Find out how to ask your boss if you can work from home.

4. Different job title.

Maybe a job title seems irrelevant, or doesn’t adequately describe your responsibilities.

If you aren’t happy with your job title, an employer may be able to tweak it – especially if you have a valid argument for the change. 

“When negotiating a job title, an employee would want to show how the job title is commensurate with the responsibilities, what they can bring to the position and how it would benefit the company,” said Clayton.

5. Different responsibilities or team assignments. 

Yes, you may be able to change the very nature of your job. For example, you can negotiate for different responsibilities or even rotate your team assignments in the name of career growth, according to Clayton. During negotiations, you must be able to demonstrate that these changes will benefit the company at large.

“The worst that can happen is they say no,” she said.

6. Subsidized equipment.

Companies are generally responsible for their employees’ work equipment, but in remote situations, those lines can blur. For example, a remote employee often doesn’t realize that he or she can negotiate for a subsidized Internet connection or laptop upgrade. Employees can even ask for ergonomic equipment, like standing desks or a yoga ball, according to Clayton.

7. Student loan subsidies.

Some companies offer student loan subsidies or programs that automatically reroute part of your paycheck. If you are facing student loan repayment, you can research programs like BenefitED or  government-sponsored programs and bring them to the negotiation table.

“A lot of companies with young employees right out of school are considering this,” said Clayton. 

8. New or upgraded office amenities.

Office workers can negotiate for new or upgraded amenities, such as vending machines, snacks, or even high-end requests like an in-office gym or health facilities. Employees should be ready to argue that the additions will benefit the wider company, and that they fall within the company budget and mission.

9. Company-sponsored recreational activities.

Companies often sponsor morale-boosting recreational activities, from kickball leagues to gym memberships or team happy hours. If you’re an employee who loves to socialize, you can show your support for these activities during negotiations and beyond, according to Clayton.

10. Leadership, educational and/or company culture development.

Instead of more money, maybe you want more training, or you want to participate in a company mentorship or diversity program. You can negotiate for the right to take a subsidized training course, to attend a leadership conference, or to start a diversity-based Employee Resource Group if one does not exist, according to Clayton.

11. Parking or transportation perks.

Employees may offer parking or transportation perks, such as free spaces, automatic subway card refills, and other commuter benefits. 

“Parking can be really expensive, especially in urban areas,” said Clayton. “An employee might be able to negotiate for parking spots or subsidies, or for MetroCards.”

If you’re negotiating for parking or transportation perks, you can suggest programs like WageWorks or state-sponsored benefits.

12. Childcare

Given the prohibitive cost of childcare in the U.S., many employers are considering or have already implemented subsidized or in-house childcare facilities. During negotiations, employees with children can easily argue that childcare benefits will improve their productivity and retention rate, according to Clayton.

13. Paid time off… sometimes.

“Paid time off can be tricky,” said Clayton. 

Paid time off is usually fixed across the company. However, if you’re in need of extra bereavement time or family leave, an employer may be open to hearing your case, Clayton said. 

Some companies have adopted a unique system for holidays. For example, if you’re Jewish and don’t want to take time off for a Christian holiday, you can take off at another time during the year.

“Some employers already have established rules in place. People might get vacation as a lump sum every year. But an employer can decide to be more generous,” Clayton said.

14. FSA and COBRA

Some benefits are more negotiable than others. For example, if you have a lag time between jobs, you can ask your new employer to cover COBRA health insurance premiums during the hiatus, according to Clayton. 

You could also ask your new employer if they’d consider adopting a Flexible Spending Account or Health Savings Account program. These are common benefits that help employees save money for medical expenditures. 

15. Any benefits packages that float your boat.

There are truly limitless benefits packages in the world. Third-party companies offer everything from discounted theater tickets to company retreats. Researching these benefits is typically relegated to the Human Resources department. However, if you find something that deeply interests you, feel free to bring it up during negotiations. Best case scenario: the employer adopts your idea. Worst case: you’ve started a productive conversation. 

The information contained in this article is not legal advice and is not a substitute for such advice. State and federal laws change frequently, and the information in this article may not reflect your own state’s laws or the most recent changes to the law. 

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  • January 14, 2023