6 Perks High-Earners Can Negotiate at Work


negotiateYou already know the basics: Salary? You better be negotiating. Vacation? Also on the table. In fact, here are five things beyond your paycheck you can negotiate on the job, at pretty much any level.

Since most of us spend more time at work than we do at home or with friends and family, asking for what you deserve is important.

But if you’re a senior, high-earning employee, such as a vice president or higher, did you know that a little artful negotiation may help you secure even more unique extras?

Here are six perks you might want to know about if you’re within spitting distance of the C-suite.

As for what’s worth asking for, Roy Cohen, career coach and author of “The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide,” says you’ll have the most success negotiating perks that have some bearing on your position and may support your ability to do your job more effectively.

We talked to career experts and real workers to find out which of these six nice-to-haves seemed nicest to them, and how they went about asking for said perk.

1. Sabbaticals

Lincoln Smith, a minister in Huntsville, Ala., has spent more than 20 years working at Twickenham Church of Christ, eventually moving up to an executive-level position. As his twentieth year approached, and he was wrapping up a major project, Smith asked for—and received—a three-month paid sabbatical. He spent the time biking across the country, covering 2,700 miles in 32 days, resting and traveling to visit other churches to pick up new ideas.

“The biggest benefit for me was getting a chance to be free of the daily grind and recharge my batteries,” Smith says. “We had just finished a building renovation, which I oversaw, and I was pretty worn out. The church hopefully was reenergized because I was recharged when I returned.”

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How to Get It: Elizabeth Pagano McGuire, a founding partner at YourSabbatical.com, says a sabbatical is more than an extended vacation; it should have a purpose. So before you talk to your employer, make sure you have one—and that you’re a valued employee.

Then outline a specific plan for what you’ll be doing during your sabbatical—volunteering in another country, finishing your novel, learning to make cheese? Articulate how your time off will positively affect your organization. Maybe you’ll feel rejuvenated and more productive upon your return like Smith was, or you’ll have learned valuable lessons you can share with your co-workers.

But be aware of the timing: You’re more likely to hear yes if you don’t ask to skip your company’s busy season this year.

2. Training Opportunities

The best performers are interested in constantly improving throughout their careers. One surefire way to do that? Pursue an advanced degree or certificate program, or attend conferences and other industry events.

As a senior-level employee, you may be able to secure approval to take paid time off for these endeavors; however, at many companies, training expenses are not included in the regular budget—so you’ll have to ask for them.

How to Get It: Stacy Lindenberg, owner of workplace development firm Talent Seed Consulting, says the right companies will actually encourage you to seek out these opportunities—so long as you frame them in the right way. Spell out how your coursework or conference attendance will benefit you and your company, she says. “For instance, if 
attending a conference, offer to share best practices and 
learnings with others when you return, thus benefitting more employees in 
the organization.”

In the case of an educational benefit, such as your company footing the bill for an executive MBA, Cohen says you’ll likely be asked to commit to staying at the company for two to five years after completing the degree. Use this to your advantage in negotiations, explaining how your employer can continue to reap the rewards of your additional knowledge—not to mention the money they’ll save in recruiting and training a replacement.

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3. Telecommuting

As the mother of a special-needs daughter and a longtime corporate officer for technology companies, Brenda Christensen has frequently negotiated for the ability to work away from the office when necessary.

Before starting her current job as director of communications at email solution provider Contatta, Christensen says she was completely transparent about her needs, which require working from home and odd hours—sometimes even having to leave a meeting or work at a moment’s notice.

To negotiate for the telecommuting schedule she needed, Christensen relied on her network of contacts who were willing to recommend her work and vouch for her 25-year record of success.