Beyond the Paycheck: Employee Perks to Negotiate

Employee Perks

You’ve reached that point in your discussion that goes beyond job duties or salary, and you’re about to segue into something that could be a deal breaker. Whether you’re a job candidate or employee — or the manager or employer on the other side of the desk — employee perks is a topic to consider and negotiate.

If you’re the job candidate, these perquisites and nice-to-have add-ons may be the carrot that sways you to accept one offer over another. If you’re a valued employee, they could be the incentive that convinces you to stay. If you’re an employer, these nonmonetary benefits are the “little something extra” beyond the salary and benefits package that can elevate your recruitment and retention efforts, as well as your workplace culture.  

A recent Robert Half Financing & Accounting survey shows 40 percent of CFOs are more open to negotiate nonmonetary perks compared to a year ago, and 43 percent of workers think employee perks are up for discussion more often with their employers.

Read more about our survey of CFOs and workers and what they said about nonmonetary perks.

Why are employee perks more negotiable now?

With the hiring market improving and the demand for specialized and skilled talent increasing, companies recognize that they must enhance the nonfinancial perks and compensation they offer to attract and retain top performers. For that reason, many firms are ready to negotiate. Otherwise, they risk losing those top candidates to the competition.

Download our free Demand for Skilled Talent report to read about the ways the current state of the employment market could affect you, and our latest Salary Guide for details on the hiring environment, including salary ranges for more than 400 positions. Use our Salary Calculator to learn more about accounting and finance salaries in your area.

Which employee perks do workers prize?

Employees in our survey said that most of all, they want more vacation time, telecommuting options and flexible schedules. That may surprise some people, who think that most workers just want a higher salary.

“Employees desire perks that allow them greater work-life balance,” says Paul McDonald, senior executive director for Robert Half. "More vacation days allow employees to take much-needed breaks from work to relax, recharge and come back with renewed energy and enthusiasm for their job.”

Employees also mentioned on-site perks, such as subsidized lunches or free parking.

CFOs didn’t respond in exactly the same way in the survey. They said that they consider the top nonmonetary employee perks to be health and wellness benefits, such as free gym memberships.

So how do you get to this discussion? And once you’re there, what do you say as you negotiate? Here are three tips for both sides to consider, at small,, midsize or large companies.

Negotiation tips for job candidates and employees

1. Do your homework. Has the company mentioned any perks in job ads, or are any employee perks offered? Is there an existing policy in place? Do other businesses in your industry offer attractive perks? Knowing the answers to these questions will put you in a better position to negotiate.

2. Come up with a plan. Rather than asking for the generic “flex time,” be specific about what you want. Let’s say you want to leave at 3 p.m. every day and work from home two hours a day. You might suggest a trial period where you’d work with that schedule for a certain number of weeks before making it permanent. Talk to your manager or the hiring manager, and explain your reasons for asking. Present the value of your idea by showing how it benefits the company. If the employee perk you desire could reduce the potential for burnout or build motivation, for example, the employer may be more receptive.

3. Have a fallback plan. Remember this is a negotiation, not an ultimatum. You may not get everything you want, so decide what you’re willing to accept, and what you’re willing to give up, before you start. 

Negotiation tips for employers and managers

1. Survey your employees and examine the market. Finding out what’s on the wish lists of your staff will give you a heads up about what they want — and what future employees might want. It’s also useful to know what employee perks similar companies are offering before you begin to negotiate. “It’s a matter of having an open discussion about what perks are most coveted by workers,” McDonald says. “It’s important for employers to initiate those types of conversations. It’s also important for workers to be honest about their desires in the workplace.”

2. Consider the costs. You may not have the budget for some employee perks, but not all of them break the bank. Giving an employee a stronger job title, awarding employees with company products and services, and offering additional vacation days, for instance, don’t have to show up as expense items. There’s even a return on investment to be considered when you offer perks such as on-the-job skills training. There’s also the low cost and high value of perks like a nap room or Yoga Tuesdays to consider — if that fits your workplace culture.

3. Listen, communicate and own your decisions. Pay close attention to your employee or job candidate when he or she’s talking, and when it’s your turn to weigh in, be clear about what you can and can’t do. Keep in mind that you want top talent, and in today’s job market, it may take some employee perks to win them over. 

Nonmonetary perks can be mutually beneficial for all parties — job seekers, employees, employers and hiring managers. Don’t underestimate their power and value in the evolving workplace.

Negotiating Perks

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