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Salary vs Benefits: who wins?

I recently was talking to a person I used to work with. She is a very dedicated employee:  she has great customer service skills, understanding of the business from the core out and has a great attitude towards everyone around her. This is the type of collaborator and partner you want in your team. She had the opportunity to move to a different role within the organization. Due to several circumstances – that I will not detail here – she was not feeling as passionate about her job as she used to. It is then when she started to think: “Am I making the right amount of money for the job that I do?”

As we were talking about it, I asked her to see the situation from a different point of view and analyze  the benefits she can get out of the job. It is true that you do not pay bills with the benefits your company gives you, but it is also true that money is not everything after all. So this brings me back to the subject of this note: who wins in the fight between Salary vs Benefits?

Every good negotiator will advise you to get the most out of any deal. If you are buying a house, try to make a deal to get kitchen furniture, or to get a discount for the change you will need to make to the bathroom tile; it is about the same with salary and benefits. Companies will have a very strict policy about monetary compensation, but then it is up to you to work on the benefits you can get.

With the right approach you can get your company to pay for phone bills, language courses, payments on college tuition, gas mileage, internet connection fees, etc.  At this point you may be thinking ” my company will never get that for me”. If this is the case, you have to challenge your creativity. Being creative is the first requirement when talking about negotiating with your boss about this topic; you need to make a compelling case about your requirements, the viability on your boss’ behalf to accept it and the “return on investment” he/she will get out of the negotiation. If your company does not have a strong benefits program, you have to accept that your  expectations on this field need to lower; start thinking about asking to work from home some days of the week, work permits associated with business goals achieved, obtaining work experience by being assigned to projects of your interest.

As I was mentioning above, when you are negotiating benefits with your boss you need to have a solid case that supports your request. You need to demonstrate that you are a valuable asset for your company, so they really listen to your demands:

  • Make sure your business results are always strong and with great positive impact for the company.
  • Demonstrate dedication to deliver excellence in your projects.
  • Innovate on your circle of influence.
  • Be ethical at all times; do not get in situations that pose a dilemma.

Now that you have done this and other actions to gain the right to negotiate, you can start sharing your views on what you would like to get from now on. Always keep in mind that you need to have a clear understanding of your boss’ likes and dislikes in order to get him/her in agreement with you.

My friend still has a long road ahead of her. Negotiating is never easy due to the different intentions the parties have. However, I am pretty sure she now understands that salary is just part of the equation and benefits are a great complement that gives very valuable options and the possibility of regaining the passion for the business she lost.

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