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Money and Life
(Financial Planning Association of Australia)
With the COVID-19 pandemic taking hold again, many employers aren’t in a position to hand out pay rises, no matter how hard you’ve worked. If that’s the case in your role, it’s worth asking for other non-financial benefits that can improve your work and home life.
Negotiating a pay rise or salary package is nerve wracking at the best of times, let alone during a pandemic. And, while you should always ask for what you think you’re worth, the economic climate may prevent you from getting it.
Slow wage growth has been an issue in Australia for several years, even before the COVID-19 pandemic sent it tumbling to a record low of 1.4 per cent last year.
Fortunately, employers are increasingly offering non-financial benefits to help entice employees to join or stay with their business. If your company has a wage freeze in place, and you don’t expect to be granted a raise this year, it might be time to think outside the box.
Here’s some things to keep in mind when you’re negotiating non-financial benefits.
How to negotiate better employee benefits
- Identify which benefits you want most
Before approaching your employer, think about the benefits that would be most valuable to you. What would enhance your lifestyle and wellbeing? What would you be happy to accept in lieu of a pay rise (at this time)?
The perk that’s consistently rated as the most desirable in Australia is flexible working hours. Whether you need to balance family commitments, study, a side hustle or just want the chance to exercise and recuperate after work, employees value having the ability to choose the hours they work.
Seek research also has found that time in lieu, the ability to work from home, health insurance and subsidised education and training courses are among our top five most desired benefits.
If these don’t appeal, you might want to consider asking for extra annual, sick or carers leave, health and wellness programs, employee share options, a better commission structure, even a new job title. Whatever is most important to you is worth asking for.
- Understand what you have to offer
Understanding how much value you bring your employer will help you make your case. Get granular and find examples to clearly demonstrate the value you bring. This might include things like results you’ve achieved, sales you’ve made, accounts you’ve won or projects you’ve completed. You could also consider how valuable your knowledge of the company’s systems and processes is, as well as the nature of your role within the business.
- Research the market
Next look at job ads for your role and see what type of benefits companies are offering. Is it something your employer could match? You might also like to research your value in the wider job market, as it may give you a stronger negotiating position. Are your skills in high demand? Is there a shortage of workers to fill your role? Would it be difficult for your employer to hire a candidate with your skills and experience? This information can all offer you support to back up your request for better benefits.
- Set up a discussion
It’s best to set up a meeting to talk about your request. Talk to your boss about the ways your work is benefitting the business, and have your list of non-financial perks ready to discuss. If you’re asking for these in lieu of a pay rise, make that clear at the time. Try to spell out the benefits your non-financial rewards would have for the business, as well as for yourself. For example, flexible work hours might mean you can start early when you’re most fresh and focused.
- Plan for the best and worst outcomes
Whether or not your request is granted, have a back-up plan ready. Ask for a follow-up meeting to discuss your salary and benefits in three to six months’ time. And get feedback on exactly what you need to do until then to put yourself in a better position for next time.
In an uncertain economy and tightening job market, many employers are having to rethink how best to incentivise staff. If non-financial rewards would make your life better, it’s worth including them in your salary discussions.
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