When you want a promotion or a job change, the first thing you may think about is negotiating a salary increase. But with the annual raise becoming a thing of the past, it may be more difficult to get one than you’d think.
While most people would rather receive a raise in pay, you’re not completely out of luck if your employer balks on upping your yearly rate. Salary aside, there are a number of other benefits you can negotiate to improve the quality of your work life. Here are a few perks you may want to talk to your boss about.
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1. Vacation Time
Your company may offer a set number of vacation days. If taking a longer vacation appeals to you, you can ask for more paid time off (three weeks instead of two weeks, for example) if an increase in salary is off the table.
When your company offers accrued vacation after a certain amount of time working for them, you could request to begin the accrual earlier.
Generally, it’s best to negotiate this extra time off at the onset of your job. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t request it later.
2. A Flexible Schedule
This is a major negotiating point for many employees. Whether it’s the ability to work from home one day a week or to be in the office for an alternative schedule (7 a.m. to 3 p.m.), a flexible schedule may be priceless.
In fact, 55 percent of employees surveyed by the Society for Human Resource Management indicated that a flexible work arrangement (FWA), be it in the form of an alternative schedule or the ability to telecommute part-time, was an important part of job satisfaction. And with more than half of employers now offering some form of FWA, a similar arrangement between you and your workplace represents a practical (and popular) benefit to negotiate in lieu of a pay increase.
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3. Paid Parental Leave
You can find generous paid leave policies at some major U.S. companies like Netflix (52 weeks), Etsy (26 weeks), and eBay (24 weeks). But despite this, among 34 nations surveyed in a WORLD Policy Analysis Center study, the U.S. is the only one that lacks mandatory paid parental leave.
As such, it may benefit you to negotiate some compensated parental leave. Alternatively, you could request the ability to work part-time following the birth or adoption of your child.
Remember that though you are guaranteed 12 weeks of unpaid leave through the Family and Medical Leave Act, your employer may require that you use some of your paid time off if you’d like to be compensated during paternity or maternity leave. So if you’re planning on expanding your family soon and don’t want to see your vacation time go down the drain, see if you can negotiate recompensed leave instead of a raise.
4. Reimbursement for Costs
There are many costs for which you can request reimbursement. If you take work calls on your personal phone, request reimbursement for some of your phone bill. Some companies will chip in for a gym membership with the reasoning that healthy employees take fewer sick days.
Childcare is also an important need for many people. Your company may reimburse you or allow you to designate pre-tax dollars to childcare costs.
Lastly, every company stands to benefit from employees who are both engaged with their work and constantly learning.
As such, you should ask your employer about professional development opportunities. It’s a great way to learn a new skill, while having your training paid for, whether in part or in full.
Perhaps you’ve always wanted to learn Photoshop, or you’d like to expand your knowledge of effective social media strategies. You could give your presentation skills a buff, or learn how to effectively and constructively manage your peers.
There’s no shortage of technical or professional skills you can learn, all paid for by your employer, which will improve not only your usefulness at your current place of work, but also your competitiveness as a candidate should you seek a job elsewhere. Check out sites like Udemy, FindCourses, and LearningTree to see if there’s an inexpensive class you can take.
5. New Equipment
Technology changes very quickly, but companies don’t always have the motivation to keep up with it.
If you’re still working on a PC from 2009, it might be worth asking for a newer machine that runs more efficiently. A new computer may even speed up your own work and reduce your frustration with your job. It’s a win for everybody!
Even if your company errs on the side of frugality and can’t afford a new PC, ask your I.T. or human resources department if there’s a used, but slightly more up-to-date desktop (or laptop) they can spare.
6. A Better Title
If all else fails, sometimes, a better title makes all the difference. Your job might have changed from the time you began. With a shift in responsibility, it might be time to request an “upgrade” in your official company title.
Research your industry and see what other options are out there. A title at one company may mean something very different to another. This may hurt your chances of a future promotion or job change. Looking at titles from other companies may give you a sense of what might work best for your career.
Keep in mind that when requesting a new title, the name change itself shouldn’t placate any professional aspirations.
“It can be beneficial to take a better title only if it also means job enrichment,” says career coach Gina Curtis of recruiting and résuméservices company Employment BOOM. “If you are getting the opportunity to take on additional responsibility, manage a team, or have more exposure to the executive team, it may benefit your career more than a salary increase.”
As such, don’t just take a new title because you’re disappointed you’re not getting a raise. Accept a new job title if it means new responsibilities and the ability to eventually further your career.
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7. More Responsibility
Taking the initiative to ask for different job assignments or new projects will not only help your career, but may also encourage innovation at work. A new role may add work to your plate, but it may just be what you need to feel motivated to succeed in a job that has become stagnant. Most importantly, much like taking on a new job title, it can pay dividends in your professional success down the road.
“Taking on additional responsibility and learning new areas is a great way to advance your career and get noticed,” Curtis adds. “You can schedule a meeting with your boss to talk about your career path. Ask if there is anything you can take on that will help you get to the next step.”
“Once you have shown you can take on new tasks, have learned new things, and are more valuable to the organization, it will help you move toward the conversation of asking for a promotion or increase in salary,” Curtis concludes.
But be careful not to solely accept grunt work that other individuals in your company don’t want to do just for the sake of being a team player. You want every minute of your time at the company to count, not just in terms of the overall success of your firm, but in terms of how your accomplishments define you in the eyes of your supervisor or employer. Take on the right assignments, (professionally) attack them with vigor, and you’ll be on your way to raise in no time at all.
The Bottom Line on Negotiating Benefits
If a raise isn’t in your immediate future, think outside the box. Do any of these perks pique your interest? Have they reminded you of something else you wish you had at your job? If so, talk with your boss. See what benefits you can negotiate in lieu of a salary increase. After all, you’ll never know if you don’t ask.
Additional reporting by Connor Beckett McInerney.