You took on a new role and exceeded expectations, delivered projects ahead of schedule and under budget. You got great feedback all year long and expected to earn a raise.
But the economy is still tight, and many employers are not offering pay increases for their employees. And if your company is tightening its belt, asking for a raise at your next performance review may not be the best move.
Instead, consider negotiating for alternative perks at work that may be as good as cash.
Most companies want to keep their most valuable team members on board. That’s why they’re often willing to work with employees if asked about receiving these five perks at work.
1. Flexible schedule
Even if your company upholds a 9-to-5 schedule, do not rule out the idea of flexible hours. In 2013, four out of five employers offered employees flex options, according to a report from Catalyst.
Compressed work weeks, staggered start times, and job sharing are all potential options for flex schedules. And they are increasingly common perks at work, both for small startups and large corporations.
To get what you want, enter discussions with your boss with a specific goal in mind. For example, request a compressed workweek with every Friday off. Then, explain how you would continue to fulfill or even exceed your current responsibilities with the modified schedule.
One argument you can make is that having extended work days Monday through Thursday gives you more time to focus uninterrupted. Since you will be in the office longer than core hours, you will be available for last minute projects or changes that need your attention.
If your supervisor is reluctant to offer a flexible schedule, suggest a trial period to see how it goes. Once they see how it works, they may be more likely to agree to it in the long-term.
2. Title change
If a raise is not an option, a title change could be the next best thing.
A new title can show you’ve progressed in your career and have taken on new responsibilities, which will look good on your resume. If you’ve added value to the organization, talk to your manager about updating your role.
For example, after killing it on a major project or milestone, ask for a meeting with your boss. Explain how your responsibilities expanded and how much more you delivered than expected.
Discuss how you think your job description has evolved past your original title, and your new responsibilities line up more closely with the next level up. Having solid examples and results to back you up will help your case.
3. Education and training
Education and training can be a great backup plan if a raise is not an option. Empowering yourself with more skills can benefit your earning potential and the company, so it’s a win-win situation for everyone.
Improving your skill sets will help position you for better roles later on, so it’s one of those perks at work that is also an investment in your future.
Research what skills you need to progress to the next level. Perhaps it’s a design course, or spending some time in ToastMasters to improve your public speaking abilities. Either way, approach your manager with ideas on how the course will help you add value to the business.
Great work perks include attending business conventions. Like asking your company to pay for classes, conferences are a great investment in your career.
By sending you to an industry convention, you can network with other leaders, stay on top of the latest business trends, and build your own executive presence.
When requesting your company to pay for you to attend a conference, make a business case for why it’s worthwhile. Point to specific examples of sessions you will attend, people you plan to meet, and what you think you can bring back to the business.
5. Paid vacation
The average U.S. worker gets just ten paid vacation days, according to a 2013 report from the Center for Economic Policy and Research. But if you’re a high-performing employee, you can ask for more than is usually offered.
If it’s time for your annual review, you can ask for an increase in vacation time as part of your compensation. Otherwise, you have the best chance of getting more vacation days if there are extenuating circumstances, such as a honeymoon or other major life event.
Either way, position the request well in advance of when you want to take days off. Show how your work will not slip through the cracks while you are out of the office, like being available out-of-pocket via email.
Be your own advocate for perks at work
While a pay increase may not be in the cards right now, that does not mean all your hard work has to go unnoticed or unrewarded.
Do some brainstorming on what perks at work you would find meaningful and beneficial, both to your life and career. Then, come up with some alternatives. Remember, if you have had a great year at work, you come to the negotiation from a place of power.
Employers ultimately want to keep their best talent satisfied. And by coming to them with ideas for great work perks, you make their job a whole lot easier. Not to mention, in the end, you reap the rewards.
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