“Don’t bargain yourself down before you get to the table.” ~ Carol Frohlinger
My last two blog entries focused on salary negotiation (Step Up To The Salary Negotiation and The Feminine Negotiation Mystique). This week’s entry concentrates on non-salary items that typically are included in an Offer Package (AKA Benefits Package). It’s important to review all items carefully to determine if they are adequate for your needs and competitive with other similar companies.
Don’t be afraid to negotiate. Avoid the temptation to cross an important item from your negotiation list simply because you think your request might be shot down. As negotiation expert Carol Frohlinger cautions, you don’t want to concede points before you even get to the table.
You shouldn’t negotiate for the sake of negotiating, but you should negotiate terms that will make the job worthwhile or possible to accept.
Listed below are a few major non-salary items that can be negotiated and tips on assessing them:
Companies offer bonuses as rewards and incentives. Some offer an across-the-board year-end bonus to all employees, sometimes in the form of profit sharing; others provide additional year-end or periodic bonuses by business unit or group, such as sales, IT, compliance, etc., as well as administrative staff and other areas that are not profit centers. In some cases, individuals must be placed in a specific bonus pool to be eligible; in such cases the manager usually submits the name of her staff member to the committee that oversees the bonus pool for approval. Thus, it’s smart to inquire about
bonuses; even if you’re not included at the time of hire it’s a good idea to let them know that you’re savvy about their existence. Finally, some companies offer a signing bonus to sweeten the offer to a highly sought-after or senior manager, but sometimes for other positions. You won’t often see this type of bonus in the current economy, but you should be aware that it exists.
Maternity and Family Leave
You might find it necessary to negotiate your leave before you accept the position if you are pregnant, your spouse or partner is pregnant or you’re in the process of adopting at the time of your job offer. Or you might decide to wait until after you’ve accepted the offer, depending on your particular set of circumstances. Obviously, this should be a carefully thought out judgment call.
But here’s what you should know: maternity and family leave in the U.S. varies among companies and states. Although the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for both women and men, it does not apply to all workplaces, and the law currently does not require employers to provide paid maternity leave. Understanding what you can expect from your prospective employer is vital to planning around your prospective company’s existing policy or deciding when and if to negotiate supplemental terms.
For example, if your company offers only the minimum leave required by law you might negotiate for a flexible schedule or the ability to work from home full or part time for periods during your pregnancy and / or for a number of weeks or months following the birth or adoption. In addition, depending on your status – if you’re an experienced professional, income producer, in a highly-sought after role or senior manager, for instance — you might be able to negotiate for initial or extended paid leave. To research the U.S. and state laws as well as pending legislation, go to the National Partnership for Women and Families and this New York Times article.
If you’re not currently pregnant or planning to become pregnant or adopt in the near future this probably is not the optimal time to negotiate maternity leave. Your decision will also depend on how many other items you’re negotiating. And, you might consider whether your spouse’s income is sufficient to support the two of you during your maternity or adoption leave, or works for a company that has a good leave policy that would allow him or her to take paid time off to be with your new baby. It’s a matter of preference, balance, priorities and timing.
Other Negotiable Items
Other benefits and perks that might or might not be specifically spelled out in your offer package and which might be negotiable include:
- Vacation time and personal days
- 401K (eligibility; enrollment period)
- Tuition reimbursement
- T&E expense accounts
- Use of the company car
- Onsite gym or complimentary gym membership
- Employee travel / hotel and resort / dining / shopping and other discounts
- Enhanced healthcare coverage
You’re in a good negotiating position if you:
- Possess appropriate and reasonable arguments for your requests
- Assess your particular job offer situation accurately
- Use good judgment and a smart approach
- Expect to win some, lose some (graciously)
Prepare carefully, decide wisely and proceed confidently.
Until next time,