How to Negotiate a Better Benefits Package

There was once a time when new hires negotiated salary alone or even just accepted whatever was offered to them.  With today’s competitive job market, however, applicants are more confident about asking for what they want- including higher salaries and a better employee benefits package.  The fact is millennials are motivated by more than just money.  They understand the importance of negotiating for other benefits and they aren’t afraid to do it.  But how exactly do you negotiate for better benefits and how far can you push it?  Here are some tips to help you negotiate a better benefits package.

Health Coverage

It’s unlikely that you will be able to negotiate a better rate within the company health care plan, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still negotiate health coverage.  If you already have health coverage through your spouse, for example, you could try to negotiate a higher salary if you choose to forego the insurance plan at work.  Hiring managers might actually be willing to negotiate with you because the cost of offering insurance to employees can be very expensive. 

Bonuses and Commission

You might not be able to increase your base salary but you can up the ante by asking your employer about the possibility of earning a bonus based on performance.   If the company offers a 401(k) plan, consider negotiating for matching funds or additional annual contributions.  No matter what you negotiate, be sure to get the details of the bonuses or commission in writing so you can be clear about the expectations.

Time Off

This is one part of the employee benefits package that might be more negotiable than other parts.  Most employees are given a standard 2 weeks of vacation but you could negotiate an extra week right from the start.  If your boss isn’t willing to give you extra time right away, you could negotiate for your time to accrue more quickly than they normally would.  A third option would be to request unpaid time off from time to time.

Flexible Work Hours

One of the best perks to have in any employee benefits package is the option to have a flexible work schedule.  Working from home once or twice a week or coming in an hour later each day might give you the flexibility you need to get kids to and from school. When you have a little more flexibility it can improve morale, save time on commuting to work, and allow you to be more productive. 

Continuing Education

Another option that can be negotiated into a benefits package is the option to enroll in continuing education classes.  You might ask if the employer is willing to provide financial support for obtaining certification or if they would be willing to provide training that would benefit you and the organization. 

The most important thing to remember when negotiating a benefits package is to make sure that any agreements or adjustments are clearly outlined in your contract or offer letter.  It is easy to forget the specifics of what was said in a meeting and miscommunication can also cause issues so be sure all details of your employee benefits package are in writing.