At any point you can negotiate your contract and benefits, however, it is important to have a strategy and plan to do so. Negotiation is uncomfortable for most people, but it is a critical career management skill. There is also a gender dimension, as men usually negotiate more than women, whether its new contracts or for a promotion or raise. The following 6 tips and 15 benefits one can negotiate for, as well as the references will hopefully get you started.
Tip 1 – Know Your Worth and What You Want to Negotiate
- Mentally and practically prepare to negotiate, so do not be quick to accept and offer and sign, even if you desperately need a job. They have interviewed you, you have passed and now you are working on the details of the contract together. They will tell you when they reach their final offer.
- Know what you have as leverage e.g. performance, expertise, new contract etc, and make use of this as part of your rationale.
- Be clear about what is important to you – a package that covers bills; you can’t relocate or travel; working hours that allow you to look after family or do schoolwork.
- Know your “walk-away” point. It is not useful to negotiate when you can see that what is on the table does not serve your needs at all.
Tip 2 – Research – What is Possible and Impossible?
- Ask for the salary package and research in the market how that role is compensated. There are a number of free online tools and websites that can give you an indication. Refer to the reference list provided at the end of the blog.
- Ask for the benefits package and what is open for negotiation, so you don’t waste time on areas that are non-negotiable for them. Despite this, still ask.
- Know the sector or industry standards e.g. corporate versus non-profit benefits.
- Know what the legal standard is in the country e.g. maternity leave benefit.
Tip 3 – Have a Strategy: it should answer – What, Why, Who, When, Where and How?
- For new contracts, let the employer make the first offer and do not go into negotiation or ask about salary and benefits too early in the interview process.
- For a raise or promotions, you can prepare your negotiation rationale and supporting evidence e.g. quantitative targets, awards and performance reviews. Make sure you know the politics involved and the decision-making process and timings.
- Your Strategy should have answers for the 5 Ws and an H – What, Why, Who, When, Where and How?
- In all negotiations, the best result is a win-win, so aim for that.
Tip 4 – Areas of negotiation – Financial Benefits
- Finances – research and benchmark the salary then negotiate; negotiate for an end of annual cycle/year Bonus or 13th cheque; have a severance package written into your contract; ask about a sign on of a new contract, as well as a relocation bonus/payout.
- Matching Financial Contributions – these could be to a Retirement Plan/Fund; Life Insurance; Investment or Stock options etc. This all depends with the sector and the company, but it is worth understanding what is available.
- Health and Wellness – medical allowance; dental allowance; gym membership; work showers; standing desk; ergonometric chair; mental health or psycho-social counselling support services etc. There is an increased focus on wellness in most organisations, it would be useful to you to ask what is available and negotiate for more if possible.
- Childcare – creche at work; childcare allowance; travel with child – pay for child and nanny. This benefit is particularly important for women of child-bearing age or anyone who will adopt a baby and need to travel for work. This is one of the limitations to career growth for a set period.
- Allowances – commuting costs allowance or is there transport provided e.g. car allowance; Housing allowance; travel for work allowance/ per diem; Acting or additional work responsibility allowance e.g. when Acting in another role that is not yours etc.
Tip 5 – Areas of Negotiation – Work Structure, Wellness and Days Off Benefits
- Working hours structure – work from home/ telecommute; flexi-time / flexible schedule; compressed working hours. These benefits may not be monetary, but they support you with better work-life integration and having greater autonomy over your time.
- Work tools – cellphone and data allowance; laptop. These work tools are not a given in every organisation. However, if you are going to work flexi-time and telecommute, you need the company or organisation to support you with these work tools.
- Paid time off – annual vacation/holiday days or leave; for volunteering and charity work or matching contributions to your charity.
- Paid sick leave – short-term and long-term; Paid family responsibility leave; Paid Compassionate leave – death of close relatives or long-term care. All these various types of leave are important to clarify and specify who they cover and that they should be separate from the paid vacation/holiday leave.
- Parental leave – paid maternity leave and unpaid supplementary maternity leave; paternity leave. There are statutory requirements related to this in every country, find out what the minimum period is and negotiate for more, if you intend to have a family. Adoption – If you are going to adopt, negotiate for the same amount of parental leave as biological parents. Miscarriage – Also ask about the amount of leave available or provided for in the case of a miscarriage and be clear about the stage of the fetus. Make sure to have this written into your contract, if relevant.
Tip 6 – Areas of Negotiation – Personal Development Benefits
- Personal Development – ask about opportunities for education, training, professional development; payment of Professional Association subscriptions;
- Higher education payments – Student loans repayment; degree or graduate school fees. Some organisations or companies have this as part of employee benefit, but do ask about the clause related to how you will be expected to repay, one is usually bonded to the company for some time. Also negotiate for time off to go and study and write exams.
- Sabbatical/extended leave after a certain period of work e.g. 5 years. This many not be something you need upon signing a contract, but you never know how long you will stay, so it is best to have it written into your contract.
- Location of the role if multiple locations are available; Relocation support – if this will be needed. You will need to do your research here. There are many hidden costs and logistics involved in relocation. You will need support to pack and ship your property before relocating, you will need transition support when you arrive and for the first month and to settle yourself and family in the new location and also other types of support for the first three months.
- Title of the role – go for a title that reflects your growth trajectory and is industry or career path specific. Look for something that translates across sectors. You can research job postings on job ads and on LinkedIn to see what framing is popular and easy to use for future job search.
SALARY BENCHMARKING RESEARCH – South Africa
SOUTH AFRICA STANDARD BENEFITS
- By Lindsey Lanquist – 17 Benefits (Other Than Salary) You Can Negotiate When You Take a Job; Yes, you can ask for more vacation days; June 1, 2018| https://www.self.com/story/benefits-you-should-negotiate
- CAREER CONTESSA – Beyond Salary—How to Negotiate Your Benefits Package https://www.careercontessa.com/advice/negotiating-benefits/
- Amanda Augustine – 5 Benefits to Ask For in Your Next Salary Negotiation
‼ JOIN THE CAREER ADVICE WEBINAR ON THIS TOPIC TOMORROW
Individuals: If you need support on how to utilise this career information for career planning, job search, career progression or CV/resume review, whether currently employed or not, get in touch using the e-mail address provided. Also share and follow this work 😊.
Written by: Ennie Chipembere Chikwema, Career Coach and Learning Expert; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
LinkedIn Profile: https://za.linkedin.com/in/ennie-chipembere-chikwema-81a30910a
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Twitter: @EnnieChipembere Date published: 05 July 2019