Buying Time | Negotiating for Benefits Other Than Salary

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So, you got a job offer and you’re ready to move forward; congratulations!

After you’ve taken some time to enjoy the excitement and satisfaction that comes with a job offer, the final step (if you plan to accept) is making sure that the compensation package fits your needs, both monetarily and otherwise.

However, it’s important to remember that your salary is not the only part of an offer that holds value—nor is it the only part that you can negotiate.

If, for any reason, your future employer isn’t open to salary negotiation, remember that there are many other benefits to consider negotiating, from health insurance to office space.

Consider your workspace

There are several physical workspace perks that are almost always up for discussion; here’s just a few suggestions.

Where your office is located

The further along you get in the interview process, the more likely it is that you’ll be taken on a quick tour of the office so that you can get a sense of where exactly you may end up working in the not-so-distant future.

Dislike the dark cubicle that will soon be yours? Consider asking for an office with a door. The more senior the position, the more negotiable this is, but if you know that you work better in a quiet space, it’s best to talk about that immediately after any tour. When raising questions about workspace, it’s very important that you remember to use neutral language. You can try saying something like, “I have found that I really thrive in a more traditional office setup. Are there alternative options for people with different needs?” is better than “I just can’t work like that.”

Working from home a few days a week

This should come up rather early in the interview process, particularly if it is a dealbreaker for you. Ask the person who will be your direct boss if there is any location flexibility for employees. Even if you’re not given a clear answer, chances are, you’ll know if it’s something you can negotiate from manner in which they respond to your question.

Technology needs

It’s okay to ask for access to certain technology if you feel that it will be a integral part of your ability to do your job well; this includes any additional software, hardware, of subscriptions you may require. This is a request that can certainly wait until an offer is made.

Consider the value of current and future benefits

Take time to understand and ask questions about the ins and outs of your current benefits package before diving into this discussion with your potential future employer; while they have an incentive to offer you more in order to get you on board, if you can’t explain what you already have, they won’t be able to sweeten the deal.

Here are two benefits that you can consider as options on the negotiating table:

  • Your share of health insurance costs. A discrepancy in insurance benefits, particularly in the ever-changing health insurance landscape, can really add up. Don’t pay more in your new job than you were paying before! Know your deductible, what you paid in medical costs last year, and both the amount that you pay and what your current employer pays on your behalf. And after you’ve been offered the position, ask if your new employer can at least match it. They have a real incentive to work with you on this, as they want you to join them.
  • Travel costs. If you had a pre-tax commuter’s benefit in your old job, make sure to bring that up in your last interview. Neglecting to have this benefit included in your new compensation package can ultimately cost you hundreds of dollars a month. See if you can get a transit pass (or a monetary equivalent that you can use to purchase this pass yourself) included in your benefits.

Make sure to get it in writing

Regardless of the organization, once you have wrapped up negotiation and accepted an offer, your new employer should provide you with a job description and benefits statement to sign before you are officially hired. This is the last opportunity you have to review your benefits (for a time, at least).

Make sure that any and all benefits that you have agreed upon are written out in detail in this agreement, especially those that may be considered nontraditional. If they aren’t, don’t sign the agreement until it accurately reflects what you and your new employer have agreed on.

If you are the person starting up the work-from-home program or serving as the beta tester for the transit pass benefit, make sure that this is all written down in your offer package. If your leadership team decides to end either program later on, you can negotiate anew for the value of that benefit—but not if it’s an unofficial, handshake-style agreement.

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Have you ever successfully negotiated for a nontraditional work benefit?

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Caitlyn has worked in many areas of nonprofits, from health and human services to museums and a career center. She is a business, finance, and technology writer and consultant, specializing in nonprofits and small businesses.
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