Your Guide to Benefits

What to negotiate for when you get a job offer, or in next year’s benefits package.

Published: Dec 2, 2021

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During the pandemic, Willa took the time to reflect on the things she truly values in life, and how her work life fits with those values. She found a few areas of disconnect, and decided to negotiate for a wider set of benefits going into 2022. 

A survey found that 98% of leaders plan to newly offer or expand at least one employee benefit. Respondents said they will prioritize the benefits workers deem most essential, like child and senior care benefits, flexibility around when and where work gets done, and expanded mental health support. 

Thanks to the Great Resignation and other factors, employers are stretched for top talent, and an enticing set of benefits are one of the best ways for them to attract and retain employees. “We can expect to see more benefits, more unique benefits, and more customized benefits on offer,” says Val Olson, a career coach at Korn Ferry Advance. 

Here’s our guide to the changing landscape of benefits.  

Companies will prioritize the benefits workers deem most essential, like child and senior care benefits, flexibility around when and where work gets done, and expanded mental health support.

Understand the standard benefits. 

Employers are adapting their benefits to the needs and values of five or six different generations who are in the workforce at the same time, from Baby Boomers to Gen Z. But some benefits remain standard, and career experts say you should think very carefully before accepting a job without these. 

The foundational suite of benefits are: insurance (health, life, short-term and long-term disability, dental and vision), retirement plans with 401(k) matching, and paid time off for bereavement, illness, vacation, and holidays.

Many companies also offer tuition reimbursement, stock options or profit sharing, gifts, bonuses, and sales commissions, as well as wellness benefits such as gym membership reimbursement or weight loss assistance.  

Understand the emerging benefits. 

The tech sector has been a leader in offering innovative benefits, and some of them have become a punchline. But the tech industry has also pioneered benefits that offer real value to workers, and companies in other sectors are jumping on board.  

Newer benefits that are becoming popular include: free, healthy meals at the office, unlimited PTO (with certain stipulations), health coaching, and student loan repayment.

Innovative benefits that are showing up more post-pandemic include: personalized bucket list experiences, employee discounts and rewards, a home office budget, childcare assistance or onsite childcare, elder care, paid parental leave for mothers and fathers, shorter days near the holidays, company-sponsored events, pet-friendly work environments, paid volunteer days, sabbaticals after a certain number of years of employment, game rooms, a professional development fund, restaurant vouchers, homebuying assistance, fertility expense assistance, culture passes, and more. 

Know what’s most important to you. 

No one company will offer every single one of these benefits. And most likely, no one person values all of them. Now that you have an idea of the options, list the top five benefits that are most important to you (outside of the standard offerings). Have your low, middle, and ideal range of benefits in mind prior to searching for a job or heading into your year-end review. 

“Take salary into account as you reflect,” Olson says. “Benefits are part of total compensation, and some companies with a long list of benefits may pay a little less. It’s all about what’s important to you, personally.” 

Always negotiate.  

If you get a job offer at a company and you don’t care about the benefits and perks that they propose, ask for the benefits that are important to you. 

Negotiate salary first. If the salary comes in higher than you expected, you can still negotiate for benefits. If the final salary offer is lower than you would prefer, counteroffer by asking for the benefits that have monetary—or other— value to you. “Don’t be greedy, but be bold,” Olson says. 

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