FAQ: Negotiating Benefits

Updated June 9, 2023

When negotiating your compensation for a new job, make sure to ask about the benefits that come with it. Often, you may find that even if employers cannot negotiate a higher salary, they have room to accommodate elsewhere. Before negotiations, determine which benefits can add the most advantages to your work life and how it balances with your personal life. In this article, we provide answers to frequently asked questions about negotiating benefits to help you navigate this process.

Related: Negotiation Skills: Definition and Examples

Can you negotiate benefits?

Employees often focus on salary during the negotiation process, but you can also negotiate benefits or other job perks. Benefits contribute to your overall compensation, so keep that in mind when reviewing a job offer. For example, you may not receive as much of a salary boost when moving to a new job, or the employer has little room to negotiate on it. You can then try to negotiate benefits to supplement your salary needs or otherwise improve your work-life balance. You may even find that some perks matter more to you than your salary.

Related: What Is Salary vs. Total Compensation?

When is it appropriate to negotiate benefits?

The appropriate time to negotiate benefits is when you receive a job offer. An employer should provide a copy of their benefits package, which you can review to determine whether it meets your wants and needs. If you find areas for improvement, start a discussion about negotiations before accepting their offer. Eager employers eager will be more interested in negotiating to ensure you feel motivated to work for them.

As an existing employee, you can try to negotiate benefits during annual or performance reviews. Provide specific reasons for your requests that show how they could improve your performance and productivity at work, along with your overall well-being.

Related: Compensation Packages: Definition and What They Include

What benefits can you negotiate?

Benefits packages vary from company to company, so make sure to review what is available to you. While employers often offer insurance plans (health, dental, life, vision, etc.) and 401(k)s, it can be difficult to negotiate these items because the companies already have set terms.

Once you understand the employer's package options, examples of benefits you can potentially negotiate include:

  • Stock options

  • Hiring/signing bonuses

  • Vacation time

  • Personal days and sick leave

  • Parental leave

  • Tuition reimbursement

  • Student loan repayment

  • Child care reimbursement

  • Professional development or training allowance

  • Telecommuting options

  • Flextime

  • Relocation assistance

  • Travel allowances

  • Commuting reimbursement

  • Gym membership reimbursement

  • Job titles

How do you negotiate benefits during the hiring process?

During the process of accepting a job and discussing compensation, you can begin negotiating your benefits. You can use the following steps to improve your chances of getting what you want:

Understand what benefits you can negotiate

When you receive a copy of the company's benefits package, ask about the potential for negotiation. They may tell you that certain aspects, such as insurance plans or 401(k) contributions, are not negotiable while others are. Once you gain this clarity, you can begin determining where you need to negotiate. For example, if the non-negotiable benefits do not meet your standards, you can start thinking about asking for benefits that would supplement those needs.

Do your research

Look online to learn what companies in your industry commonly provide as benefits and whether they align with your potential employer's offer. If other companies offer what you requested, bring that to the employer's attention. This research shows that your requests are reasonable and potentially standard in the industry, so the employer may be more willing to meet them to remain a competitive option for job seekers.

Provide specific reasons

Providing the reasoning behind your requests can strengthen your argument. If the company does not offer a particular benefit, outline why it is necessary and how it would benefit your work performance. For example, you can explain why having extra vacation days or the ability to telecommute a few days a week could help you avoid burnout at work. Employers want to see their employees thrive because it can help them meet their business goals.

Show your value

During the negotiation process, remind your potential employer of your worth and why they wanted to hire you. Reiterate the successes from your professional history, such as your ability to save costs, streamline processes or promote growth. Then explain how you aim to provide that same value to their company, and the benefits you receive should reflect that. When employers recognize the talent and advantages you offer, it may make them more interested in adapting to your needs.

Get the final offer in writing

Once you have finished the negotiation process, make sure to get a written offer. Take the time to review the document to ensure it includes all your agreed-upon elements and save it somewhere safe. Make sure to keep any other relevant communications that include details from the negotiation process, such as emails. Having this evidence can help prevent potential misunderstandings later and ensure that you receive the benefits that you negotiated.

Can you negotiate benefits when asking for a raise?

When requesting a raise at work, you can also use the opportunity to negotiate benefits. You might not have gotten particular benefits as a new hire that you now believe would aid your performance or work-life balance. You can use the following tips to navigate this situation:

  • Get the timing right. A good time to ask for a raise is during your annual review. However, some companies have a specific schedule for reviewing salaries according to their fiscal year. Ask your supervisor or an HR manager about their timeline to ensure you choose the appropriate time to negotiate a raise and benefits.

  • Set realistic goals. A good time to ask for a raise is during your annual review. However, some companies have a specific schedule for reviewing salaries according to their fiscal year, so ask your supervisor or an HR manager about their timeline. That way, you know the appropriate time to negotiate a raise and benefits.

  • Determine your negotiable areas. Aside from having a specific salary to request, decide which benefits matter most to you. If you come to the negotiation with plans for both aspects, you can use them to bargain for what you want. For example, if your employer cannot meet your salary expectations, you can focus on the benefits that can supplement those monetary needs.

  • Assess the value of the benefits. You use this information to aid your negotiations by comparing the costs of a salary raise versus additional benefits. For example, if an employer denies your request for another week of vacation, ask for a raise that would compensate you for an extra week of work. If they see one option will cost them less while still making you happy, you may get closer to a deal.

  • Outline your accomplishments. If you think you deserve a raise or additional benefits, you need to prove why. Come to the discussion with a list of your achievements at the company. You can persuade employers that they owe you a higher salary or additional benefits if they recognize the valuable contributions you have made.

Related: How to Ask for a Raise (With Script Examples)

How do you negotiate benefits when advancing in the same company?

Whether you ask for a promotion or your employer approaches you, make sure to negotiate for relevant benefits during the process. A promotion demonstrates that the company recognizes your value, which means they may be more likely to accommodate your requests. Here are some steps you can take to negotiate benefits as you advance within the company:

Research the role

When receiving a promotion, you need to understand what the role entails before accepting the offer. Find out what the responsibilities include and determine whether you have the necessary skills or training to perform them. If you know you can carry out the tasks of the job, you will feel more confident about your qualifications and thus your ability to negotiate.

You also need to assess the demands of the position and how much additional time or energy it requires. This can help you understand what benefits could support you as you take on the new responsibilities. If the role requires much more travel, for example, you may need to request benefits such as childcare reimbursement or travel allowances.

Be aware of the company's limitations

When going into negotiations, make sure you have an idea of the company's current financial or organizational situation. If you know it is struggling financially, it can help you understand where you need to show flexibility. While the company may not be able to provide the raise that you want, you can offer some low-cost benefits as an attractive bargain that would fulfill your needs.

Related: What to Expect from an Average Promotion Raise

Prepare your justification

Now that you have done your research, you can provide solid reasons for your negotiation requests. A promotion shows that your employer already sees your value. However, if the offer does not meet your expectations, then you need to explain how your requests can help you perform more successfully in the new role. Try to focus on how these benefits also support their needs.

For example, explain that the option to work remotely boosts your productivity because it allows you to work longer hours to manage your new, heavier workload. You can also mention why certain perks will motivate you to continue making impacts at the company. When offering advancement opportunities, employers like to see your engagement with the company and plans to stay long-term.

Maintain your professionalism

Bring a written list of your requests and concerns, along with potential research that backs up your negotiations. Having something tangible for your employer to review can make it easier to communicate your needs. Also, try to start with your three most important priorities to avoid overwhelming them with too many requests. Remember, you may not get everything you wanted. Coming with compromises proves you have the company's interests in mind, not just your own.

Whatever decision the employer makes, keep your composure and maintain a respectful tone. If they meet all or most of your requests, thank them for the opportunity and express your excitement to start the role. Do the same when you do not get everything you wanted. Once you settle into the role and make significant impacts or contributions, you can bring up those benefits during your annual review. Now that your employer knows how much you accomplish within the role, they may be more willing to provide those benefits.

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