In the current, record-breaking employment environment, it’s no secret that candidates are well-positioned to negotiate. The unemployment rate continues to hover around 4.1% in the Delaware Valley, and at 3.7 nationally, according to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nowhere is the talent gap felt more keenly than in the technical sector. How does this environment present an advantage in salary negotiations?
There’s More Than Salary to Talk About
As tempting as it may be to focus on testing the upper thresholds of salary while negotiating an offer, there’s more for a candidate to consider in that offer than compensation. After all, 57% of employees in a recent Glassdoor survey said that perks and benefits were among top considerations when considering a job offer.
Kay Durkin, founder of Phoenix Partners, knows first hand that all job offers are not created equal.
“It’s important for a candidate to really examine the whole package and what’s important to them. Oftentimes the perks and benefits offered determine an employee’s long-term job satisfaction. Increased compensation is great, but in my experience, many candidates are happiest when their other needs are also met in a creative benefits package,” Durkin said.
For example, perks such as flex-days or telecommuting, opportunities for professional development and continuing education, and employee health and wellness programs are increasingly popular ways that companies attract and retain top talent.
“These types of perks also signal a contemporary corporate culture that is more attractive to highly talented technical candidates,” she adds.
Understanding Employers Trends in Packaging Benefits
From an employer perspective, benefits make up an average of 32% of total compensation cost, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). This is why it is important to compare apples to apples when negotiating job offers.
SHRM is an association to which most HR staff from larger companies belong. The organization recently published its 2018 Employee Benefits Report, citing the trend to use benefits as a strategic tool for recruiting and retaining talent. The report said that companies who offer the most sought-after benefits performed better– 58% vs. 34%, and are more likely to retain employees and be more effective in recruitment. So in a way, the quality of benefit package offered also signals future business performance of the company.
Ninety-two percent of employees surveyed by SHRM said benefits were important to overall job satisfaction, and 29% cited the lack of an attractive benefits package as a top reason to look for a position outside of their organization.
Reviewing these trends and comparing them to your own wish-list will provide you with the background you need to successfully negotiate terms.
Emerging Benefit Trends per SHRM
- Telecommuting – 70% of employers surveyed said they would be willing to offer this benefit compared to just 59% in 2014.
- Stress Management Benefits – 12% of companies now offer some form of stress management program for employees, a fourfold increase from 3% in 2014.
- Paid Time Off for Volunteering – Nearly a quarter (24%) of companies offer this perk, up from 16% four years ago.
- Free Food/Meals – SHRM found that 32% offer free food and beverage benefits today compared to 20% in 2014.
Important Benefits to Evaluate in a Package:
- Opportunities for Work-Life Balance
Professionals in sought-after disciplines should closely evaluate an employer package for things like flexible scheduling, compressed work-weeks, work-from-home opportunities and unlimited paid time off (PTO) policies that directly impact well-being. According to a recent survey by the Harvard Business Review, benefits that prioritize work-life balance are the second most valued employee benefit following medical benefits. Studies have also shown that employees who work remotely are more productive and have higher rates of engagement.
- Wellness Benefits
If a healthy lifestyle is important to you, you’ll want to research what type of wellness benefits a prospective employer offers. We all know it’s easier to manage stress and maintain work-life balance if there’s ready access to programs and onsite fitness facilities.
- Professional and Career Development Benefits
For most candidates in technical fields, benefits that directly relate to continuing education and professional development signal the kind of corporate culture they’re looking for. Ask questions about a company’s support of professional certifications and memberships, offsite and onsite opportunities for professional development, and cross-training opportunities. The more focused a company is on the advancement of its employees’ skill base, the more prepared it will be to meet future challenges, and the more likely it is to offer long-term job security.
Are you looking to make a move to a company that offers superior benefits? Talk to us at Phoenix Partners.