How to Negotiate Benefits After a Job Offer

FT Contributor  | 

If you’ve recently received a job offer, congratulations! Now it’s time to negotiate your benefits. As an employee, your salary is probably considerably less than the compensation your boss receives. That’s where negotiating benefits comes in.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to accept the benefits package that comes with your job offer. By leveraging the job offer you have yet to accept, you can negotiate what your benefits package includes.

Most employers offer basic benefits that help employees cover the costs of healthcare and invest in their retirement, but some employers offer even more. From flexible work schedules to personal days and paid time off to volunteer, there is a world of other benefits out there than you can leverage in your negotiations.

It’s important to negotiate your benefits while thinking about your long-term goals, such as retirement. While you may be new to the workforce and just starting out, you could be working in this position for some time. Therefore, you’ll want benefits that protect you throughout your life.

The salary you are paid is different from the benefits you receive, which makes negotiating benefits of the utmost importance when an employer refuses to increase their salary offer. Inquiring about increased benefits can help make up for what you won’t be earning in income.

Learn more about what it takes to negotiate benefits after you’ve received a job offer.

Types of Job Benefits to Negotiate

While you can’t negotiate every aspect of employee benefits, there are certain benefits you are able to negotiate. Below, we’ll discuss some of the most commonly negotiated benefits.

401(k) Match

A 401(k) is a profit-sharing plan that allows you to put a portion of your income away into a retirement account. In some cases, an employer may choose to match your contribution. In the event that they don’t, you can negotiate that they do so. Additionally, you can negotiate the percentage they contribute to your 401(k).

To negotiate a 401(k) match, start by seeing if the company matches your contribution. Consider the salary you were offered, too. A company may be offering a high salary, but unwilling to match your 401(k) contribution.

Added Insurance Perks

Consider the health insurance coverage the employer is offering. Some employers will offer a health savings account (HSA). This savings account lets you set aside money on a pre-tax basis to pay for qualified medical expenses. An HSA can be extremely beneficial to employees who would be paying higher out-of-pocket costs for health care otherwise.

To negotiate additional insurance perks, start with an understanding of the company’s existing insurance offerings. If they don’t offer an HSA, see if they’re willing to, or ask for the employer to contribute more funding towards your insurance coverage.

Wellness Programs

Employee benefits go beyond healthcare coverage. Wellness programs, like paid gym memberships, are often negotiable.

To negotiate wellness programs into your benefits package, start by asking local gyms about discounts they might offer, then present that to the employer. You can also inquire about bonuses for employees who make healthy choices. Certain employers offer incentives to encourage their employees to stop smoking or sign up for wellness programs.

Negotiating for wellness program perks might mean that you receive less coverage when it comes to health insurance, so keep that in mind.

Professional Development Perks

Just because you’ve landed the job doesn’t mean you’re done progressing. Professional development programs can help you stay relevant in your industry and ultimately negotiate a raise in the future.

When negotiating benefits, see if the employer will cover the costs of attending professional development programs such as conferences or higher education classes that will teach you new skills. Explain that these professional development activities will benefit you, but they’ll ultimately benefit the company, too.

Commuter Perks

In some cases, the job you’ve been offered might be a bit of a distance from where you live. When you receive the job offer, negotiate commuter perks with your employer. You may be able to leverage stipends for bus or train fare or even gas by demonstrating the expense of getting to work.

Paid time off allows an employee to avoid burnout and strike a work-life balance, which helps them cultivate job satisfaction and be more productive at work. Demonstrate the need for paid time off to the employer. By explaining how time away from work allows you to come back refocused and reenergized, you may be able to obtain a few extra days off or ask for leeway on a pre-planned trip.

What Percentage of a Salary Is Benefits?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, benefit costs accounted for 37.7% of employer’s expenses in 2019. Knowing that this is what the average employer is willing to put towards the benefits of an employee, you can feel confident asking for 30% of your compensation to come in the form of benefits.  

To understand if you’re getting the best deal, it’s important to research the benefits being offered to you from an employer. Ultimately, the benefits you are offered should be a deciding factor when you’re considering a new job.

Negotiation Tips

Don’t be intimidated — it’s normal to negotiate benefits when you receive a job offer. To haggle successfully with your boss about benefits, use the negotiation tips below.

Know the Market

To avoid asking for too much or too little, it’s important to know the market. With an understanding of the benefits that are common for employees in your field, you’ll be better equipped to negotiate the benefits you receive.

You can gain a better understanding of the typical benefits in your industry, but it might be difficult to know the benefits you’re entitled to. It’s a little more tricky to research benefits in a specific role because they vary by company, but ask your network about the benefits they receive. This allows you to gain a better understanding of the average benefits compensation in a particular job.

Research the Company

You’ve probably already done this during the interview phase of landing a job, but researching the benefits offered by the company will allow you to understand which perks they offer so you can negotiate the right ones. It will also demonstrate your interest in the company and hopefully put your boss in a more positive attitude during negotiations.

Clearly Define Your Goals

When it comes to negotiating your benefits, it’s important to know what you want. By clearly defining your goals, you’ll be better equipped to outline your wants and needs to the employer, ensuring that the negotiation meeting is a productive one. To prepare for this meeting, create an outline of the benefits you want to negotiate, then flush out exactly what you want.

Whether you have a limited employment history of you’ve negotiated benefits for previous roles, these tips on negotiating benefits can help you get the perks you deserve. With an understanding of the benefits you can negotiate and the benefits your employer is willing to offer, you’ll be able to use the negotiating tips provided here to leverage better benefits.


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