One of the most significant effects of the pandemic is that companies have put aside plans to promote or give raises to staff – even excellent staff. The conversation about negotiating job perks and salary increments is difficult, even for senior-level executives, but in light of such a freeze it’s even more complex.
As workers, we already find such conversations uncomfortable, and the result is that we lose money. Carnegie Mellon University economist Lind Babcock asserted that employees – especially women – lose as much as $1.0 -1.5 million in a lifetime from not negotiating salaries and perks.
As you grow in your career, it is helpful to improve your negotiation skills to ensure your salary and benefits capture your experience and value. In tough times, salary increments or promotions may not be possible, but that doesn’t mean you have no bargaining power to improve your benefits. These are some perks you can negotiate to recognize your accomplishments in tough times:
Ask For These Perks During a Promotion Freeze
Flexible scheduling and the tools to facilitate it.
A recent Adecco Group survey showed that employees value work-life balance as much as their salaries. Time is now more valuable to employees than before, as many are forced to work longer hours or multiple jobs to make ends meet.
Even though companies were forced to adopt work-from-home arrangements (WFH) with the pandemic, many consider this a temporary plan. Still, if you prefer the new arrangement, now is the time to negotiate for a more permanent arrangement. If you have resumed in-office work, you can ask for WFH a few days a week/month or compressed schedules to leave a few days free.
Along with allowing WFH or flexible scheduling, ask for tools to enable this arrangement, such as laptops, network connections, software installations, or smartphones. You can use your productivity data from the last few months to support your ask.
If you must be at the office for your work, you can ask for transportation allowances to ease your commuting costs. Most companies don’t have these allowance packages outright. However, they would be willing to give a few hundred dollars a month to keep valuable employees.
Other allowances or budgetary allocations.
Think about the budgetary allocations and allowances that would make it easier to do your job. Depending on what you do, you can ask for the following:
- Magazine subscription allowance
- Professional association memberships
- Client entertainment budget
- Professional certification tuition and support
- Budget for networking events
- Travel allowances, among others.
While companies may not be willing to offer promotions or salary raises, they may allocate these discretionary allowances if you demonstrate how they will benefit. You can bring up these allowances during your annual performance reviews.
Added vacation time.
An extra week or two of paid vacation time is relatively easy to negotiate, primarily because it doesn’t involve money. Many employers will choose to give you seven more days a year than increase your base salary during tough times. Find out what the company offers and ask them to double it or increase it by a factor. Additional rest time can be helpful, especially if you’re in a high-pressure job.
Think beyond the immediate gains of salaries and promotions to more significant benefits for your career in the long-term. Introduction to company leaders and a formal mentorship program/relationship can be invaluable to your growth within the company.
Mentorship is often left to chance, thinking that it will happen in the natural course of work. However, getting it in writing ensures that you have a real opportunity to benefit from the insights of the leaders you look up to. As a bonus – it costs almost nothing for the company to effect this.
Education allowances or tuition reimbursement.
If you plan to pursue further education to improve your workplace performance, you can ask the company to cover your tuition fees. Whether or not you get a positive response depends on how you frame it – for instance, paying for your education is often a tax-deductible expense and furthering your skills makes you a better asset to the company.
If they cannot pay for your tuition, ask for education support, often in the form of flexible hours to attend classes or even study leaves before exam seasons. Remember to show them exactly how they will benefit, and you’re likely to get a good response.
Bigger and/or better office.
Depending on your job level and amount of space at your disposal, you may be able to negotiate for a better office or workstation. For some people, it could be a corner office with huge windows, while others are content to have a cubicle with a little more privacy than open-plan spaces.
If space is not constrained, upgrading from workstation to cubicle or cubicle to office can be a huge confidence boost and motivator. If you can find a way to make your ask work, they are more likely to comply.
It would be best if you approached any negotiation conversation holistically – thinking about your short and long-term benefits. It helps to take a few days before a meeting to research on the perks that mean the most to you, and how you can make it easy for your employer to comply.
Prioritize your list of perks: unless you’re extremely valuable, you may have a chance to ask for only a few things – often just two or three at each meeting. Make them count.
That said, remember negotiation is on-going; practicing various negotiation skills can help you develop greater confidence when facing that all-important conversation.
Improve your negotiation skills with the help of our career coaching services