How to Have the Benefits #RealMoneyTalk with HR

Real Money Talk

There are many employees who work tirelessly to produce results for their company, team or boss. However, how many actually plan to have the #RealMoneyTalk with HR? This is one of the most important responsibilities an employee should have on their plate. The most important conversation is one that is contrary to popular belief– the one that’s NOT all about the money, I’m talking fringe benefits. Studies show that the majority of workers would take a job with a lower salary if it offered better benefits (Randstad US). 

What types of benefits are we talking about here? Well, it’s 2020! The traditional benefits are almost expected. These are paid leaves for sick days or vacations, overtime or holiday pay, various forms of insurance, and a retirement plan. And sure, these are all great! But, an increasing number of millennials are starting to value “fringe benefits” as well.

What are fringe benefits?

These are any extra perks that aren’t the conventional ones listed above. For example: a flexible schedule, catered meals, a snack pantry, paid travel expenses, gym memberships, cash awards, special discounts, personal development, housing assistance, student loan repayment assistance, the list goes on! 

Your job is a huge part of your everyday life. Having these “unconventional” benefits to make it enjoyable makes perfect sense! But, how do you even begin to plan for a meeting with HR to discuss your traditional benefits and fringe benefits? 

Grab a paper and pen. Get ready to take notes. 

1. Plan

Before you even think about scheduling a meeting with anyone at your job, you need to have a plan already in place. This process can take longer than you may think, so make sure you’ve given it a lot of thought. First, you need to write down the answers to a few things. 

      • What were your goals when you first accepted this job offer?
      • Have your goals changed? What are your goals now?
      • What have you been able to accomplish at this job? Cite numbers as often as you can!
      • What was your specific role in getting these results?
      • What makes you a unique and critical member of the team?
      • Are there any major life changes that motivated you to meet with HR?
      • Rank the ideal outcomes that you’d like to see after this meeting.

2. Prepare

Now that you’ve started reflecting, you can begin to put the data together. This is the most important part. If you do not have data to back up your case, then the chances of any results coming to fruition will be significantly lower. Data is a critical part of any argument you will ever make. It is the evidence you will need to refer to and use to prove your major points.

Many don’t like the term “negotiation,” but in many ways, that is what meetings are. You’ll need to decide what’s the worst possible outcome that you’d be willing to agree to if HR declines your requests. That will be your BATNA. BATNA stands for the “best alternative to a negotiated agreement.”

Let’s look at an example now: You’ve been at your company for 2 years and have not been offered a raise. You love your team, but have recently become engaged and planning a wedding will require a lot more personal and financial responsibility. During your time at the company, you have led 7 major projects and have proven results for each project. You’re diligent and have never spent more than the budget allotted to you. In fact, you’ve saved the company money several times.

Before heading into the meeting, you decide your ideal outcome from meeting with HR. 1, to get an increase in salary, 2, to have the option of working from home once a week and 3, to get additional time off for your wedding and honeymoon. 

If the meeting goes as you hope it will, then you’ll get all of these 3 things. But, what if the company is not able to offer you a salary increase or offers you less than requested? Will you stay at the job anyway? Make this decision BEFORE you schedule the meeting. You need to decide what you’re willing to compromise on and which fringe benefits are your dealbreakers. A good practice here is to list all possible outcomes. Then, go through all outcomes and see which outweighs the other. 

3. Practice

Now that you know EXACTLY what it will take for you to stay or leave this particular position, you are ready to practice over and over again! Grab someone that you know can be a tough negotiator, either a friend or family member. Walk through the conversation with them pretending to build your case for real. This will help you nail down the words and phrasing to build up your confidence. It will also help you practice having this conversation without feeling awkward or nervous because it won’t be the first time you discuss it. Practice in the mirror so you can make sure your facial expressions are positive. Be sure to also practice pausing and keeping a neutral face for moments when HR needs to think about your request or is considering something you said. 

What if they say “no” to everything?

And now, the best question! What if they say “no” to everything? There are 3 main ways you can handle this situation: 

  1. A few weeks before you ask for a meeting, begin to look around at other jobs that you may be interested in applying for. This can help you compare salary, benefits and fringe benefits to what your current company offers and ease the decision-making process. 
  2. If you love your job and do not want to leave even if HR does not compromise, then stay. But, you must be sure that this is what you really want. Work super hard and in 6 months, try the entire process again with new and up to date data from results within that 6 month period. 
  3. This is the weakest choice and not one that is recommended by experts unless you’ve exhausted other options. If your HR team is not willing to work with you at all, save up for an emergency fund of 3-6 months of rent and expenses. Let HR know that you are prepared to leave unless they can offer your BATNA. This can be done during the meeting or at a quarterly or annual review. Be prepared for them to say that you can leave, in which case you will need to pack up and quit the job. But, with 3-6 months of savings and a lot of free time, you’re in the perfect position to start interviewing for other jobs and finding the right fit for you.

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