What Job Perks Are Commonly Negotiated In 2016?
October 28, 2016 9:01 PM   Subscribe

After some time away from my regular career (5 years), I am jumping back in. I have been spending time thinking what kind of perks I might look to negotiate in a job. It seems like more people are doing this than 5 years ago; certainly more of my friends have. So what is common?

I started thinking about this because one company has a long enough commute that I was hoping to ameliorate that by seeing if they would let me work from home two days a week and in bad weather. That got me wondering if I should look at other types of flexible options. For instance, I love to travel, and I know two people in recent years that have managed to work remotely while spending extended periods in other cities.

So what is common these days? What should I be considering asking for, and what might be too much? For instance, I have a list of wants for my next job. If the company doesn't have those things, is it normal to ask for them? Another 2 example i was thinking of is bargaining for a standing desk if they don't have it, or asking for a Mac if they are currently windows only.

From what I've seen, it does seem like companies are more open to these arrangements than in the past. I am sure it varies from company to company. And I'm in the Midwest (Milwaukee to be exact).

This is in web design and development, maybe app development, and I'm mostly looking at in-house positions that support their own product. Most of the places I'm loking at have a pretty substantial part of the business that just supports the product. Ie it's not two web developers banging out code in a company that might be culturally focused on something else, but not necessarily a dedicated software company.

I would love to hear what people are asking for, how they're asking for it, as well as hurdles they've faced.
posted by [insert clever name here] to Work & Money (14 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I recently rejoined the workforce after ~2yrs off.

The company had an "offer consultant" that worked with me on salary negotiation and he was really helpful.

When talking about signing bonuses he suggested a two-phase signing and retention bonus (half upon hire, half after 1 year). I ended up with more bonus than I would have asked for otherwise (though I do have to wait a year for half of it).

He gave me info about the average raise amount (I suppose he could have been untruthful) and suggested I factor in those amounts into my requested salary. In the end I ended up asking for a lot more than I would have otherwise.

On the downside, I asked for more vacation and didn't get it.

PS: I'm in the hi-tech field
posted by sarah_pdx at 9:37 PM on October 28, 2016

Oh and standing desks are very common in my workplace. Seems like 30-40% of desks are movable. I'd bet that most software and hi-tech firms will pay for most ergonomic things these days.

Where I work, they supply windows PCs, but have a "bring your own" policy if someone wants to be macOS or linux. I don't think they subsidize your hardware if you bring your own.
posted by sarah_pdx at 9:45 PM on October 28, 2016

As long as you are 100% ready to not take the job, there is no unreasonable request. Instead of a standing desk or mac, ask what the budget is to set up your workstation. Then say you want more (enough to cover whatever you want). Ask to start with a bank of X vacation days. Or waive any kind of waiting period before vacation days begin accruing. Ask for a monthlong paid vacation before your first working day (my mother successfully got that once).

If you have the means to reject a job offer, you're in a serious position of power. Take advantage of it! If not, you should negotiate on salary only and use the power of having a job in your next job search.
posted by paulcole at 9:52 PM on October 28, 2016 [4 favorites]

My thoughts on your specific ideas:

Working from home: This is typically a company policy thing, and something you should ask about in the interview before you get to any negotiations. They'll either offer it or they won't, and it's unlikely that they'll negotiate remote working time just for you. In this field though, there's a good chance it'll be a built-in perk of the job.

Standing desk: as sarah_pdx indicates, these are becoming increasingly common. My workplace (albeit a new office only a year old) has 100% adjustable desks. Ergonomics are quite the thing nowadays. I don't think it's out of the question to ask for one if it's not the norm.

Mac vs. PC: It sounds like the org you're considering is similar to mine, where there's a heavy IT component that supports the unique things about the business, but isn't the core of what the business does. Just anecdata; if you're a developer, you get hardware x, model y or model z. There's little negotiation there, especially when it comes to mac vs. PC, because the deskside support groups may not have any experience in multiple platforms, so they standardize the hardware to one specific platform. Doing this also creates consistency of results and processes in development teams. But, that's just my org; if you are looking at something smaller or more independent there may be more flexibility. (Not to mention Macs can be crazy expensive vs. Win laptops and can be tough to justify in a profit-driven company.) As noted, BYOD is becoming more common.

Bottom line is what paulcole said - without getting unreasonably extravagant, there is no unreasonable offer - they can only say no. But don't go too overboard, they may see you as overly demanding or entitled which could turn them off - developers are relatively easy to come by nowadays, and you're already at a disadvantage having been away from the field for 5 years - which is a lifetime in terms of technology.
posted by SquidLips at 10:09 PM on October 28, 2016

Ex-hiring guy here. See my answer in today's "Marissa Mayer" AskMe for my thoughts and experience hiring (or not hiring) those with laundry lists of specific requirements.

Short version: best to ask for adequate money up front to self-finance your needs, and then during your first weeks, offer to buy your own desk (or bring your own Mac, or whatnot) when it comes up.

Heck, if the company is a nice one, they'll do it anyway, while still leaving you a nice extra bankroll, and nobody will see or reject you for appearing to be too much of a needy and/or special snowflake on day zero. Win-win.
posted by rokusan at 10:30 PM on October 28, 2016 [2 favorites]

Mod note: A couple deleted. Sorry, but this shouldn't become a chat or discussion generally, but it especially shouldn't become a Windows vs Mac discussion. eek!
posted by taz (staff) at 1:49 AM on October 29, 2016 [4 favorites]

As a hiring manager at a company that is known for giving very good perks, I think pretty much all of the example requests in your question are unreasonable. Now, some of them (e.g. standing desks) we do offer, but as standard perks for everybody. Our company is very generous with perks but the flip side of that is that you don't get to negotiate yourself special ones. Exceptions are occasionally made for employees who have several years of excellent work performance, but very rarely for new hires, unless you are truly a one-of-a-kind talent. The only exceptional perk I've ever said yes to was three extra weeks a year of unpaid leave. (Then our company switched to an unlimited vacation policy, so that worked out quite well for the employee in question!)

It's fine to ask about whether the company offers these kinds of arrangements when you're talking with the recruiter at the interview stage, but I would honestly be kind of annoyed with a candidate if they asked at the offer stage for a major concession like working from home two days a week, or working from a different city. I agree with rokusan that the best thing to ask for in most cases is money -- especially in the form of a signing bonus, which recruiters often have more flexibility to negotiate on than salary. Nobody will think you are an entitled special snowflake for asking for money.
posted by phoenixy at 5:19 AM on October 29, 2016 [6 favorites]

If you want to work remotely, specifically look for positions with companies that work remotely, e.g., on We Work Remotely. There are definitely increasingly many in the field that do, and they don't care where you work, unlike a small local shop. If you want unlimited vacation time, look for companies specifically that offer that; they will almost certainly mention it in their listings or on their site.

What companies offer in terms of standing desks and laptops will vary, but that's not an unreasonable thing to look for. If they don't already offer those perks to everyone, though, it might be harder and you might need to take the approach rokusan mentions. But yeah, self-selecting for a position working remotely is the best way to get what you want in this regard, rather than trying to bend another workplace's policies.

If you open up your search to companies that aren't based locally, you may be more likely to find what you want. I rarely saw benefits like this listed by companies based in my city in the Midwest.
posted by limeonaire at 6:19 AM on October 29, 2016 [4 favorites]

I would be cautious expecting a lot of negotiation power reentering the workforce after five years. That's a very long time in terms of web technology and trends, which puts you on a weak footing to begin with. Asking for things out of the ordinary could be enough to get your application rejected if there's other candidates that go with the conventional flow.

i was thinking of is bargaining for a standing desk if they don't have it, or asking for a Mac if they are currently windows only.

These (and telecommuting) are things that you want to look for as standard options in a company - you don't want to be perceived by coworkers as getting special privileges. (Other than the standing desk, which you have a medical need for.)
posted by Candleman at 7:24 AM on October 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

The standing desk is fine, those are all the rage right now. The Mac is almost certainly a no-go, for compatibility reasons that also bleed into security reasons, from what I understand.
A weekly telecommuting situation might work if they let other employees, but it won't if they don't. Working remotely while you travel definitely won't happen. Like Candleman says, those two in particular could easily breed resentment, and resentment plus two days a week they have to bitch about you openly is probably not a good way to establish a rapport with your colleagues.

Ask for inconspicuous perks upon hire, like a higher salary. Negotiate for the conspicuous ones once you have some time and a record of solid performance under your belt.
posted by good lorneing at 10:16 AM on October 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Just looked at your question from August. The standing desk is in aid of accommodating your disability you say, so that's almost certainly reasonable under ADA. If you can demonstrate that working at home twice a week is something that would ameliorate symptoms of your disability, then that too might be a reasonable accommodation depending on the nature of the job. But again, with the resentment of coworkers, if you have an "invisible" disability, I personally would drop a heavy hint to a coworker and let it make the rounds. "Eh, I've got a thing," with a vague, broad motion to a random area of my body is usually how I roll.
posted by good lorneing at 10:30 AM on October 29, 2016

As you referenced in your question, this all depends on the job and how much leverage you have to request additional perks. If the position is hard to staff and you've already gone through the interview process and they want to hire you, you have a lot of leverage, because it's cheaper to just give you an extra $1000 for a new desk than to start all over with another candidate. But if the position is easier to staff (more junior position, or there's a glut of qualified applicants in the market) then you lose that leverage. The job market as a whole seems to be heavily skewed in favor of the candidate right now.

If you're in a tech field (as I surmise you are) then you probably have quite a bit of leverage for things like start date, vacation time, or working remotely to accommodate a long commute. Asking for special equipment might get some pushback or eye-rolls from current employees so I'd be careful asking for more than necessary. It all depends on the company. Sometimes working remotely is a sore point because the CEO had a bad experience with a remote employee years ago or whatever. It's hard to judge ahead of time, but you can probably feel it out from an interview.
posted by deathpanels at 12:29 PM on October 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

The Mac is almost certainly a no-go, for compatibility reasons that also bleed into security reasons, from what I understand.

It's a web shop. They are very likely already a Mac office, and they certainly have at least some. In a web field, this is the most obviously normal request to me, actually.

(It was something like ninety percent of the top firms when I was intimately involved, and it's still almost three quarters, from what I see visiting them these days. Design and web development shops are not legal or accounting firms.)
posted by rokusan at 1:01 PM on October 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Milwaukee is a surprisingly Windows/Microsoft town. It is starting to change, but there are still a lot of companies that are Windows everything.

Is it common to be able to provide your own computer? That would be the easiest, but my experience has been companies have frowned on that either due to the security risk, or licensing or data/work that could walk out with your computer during a termination, etc...

I would normally agree about asking for too much reentering the field after a prolonged time away, but I am getting a lot of interest, a lot more than I expected and these hiring managers know I haven't worked in the field for 5 years. It helps that it's UX and that is really in demand and low supply now. I also have many years of experience in web dev and am not as out of touch as I thought I was. The advantage of being an early adopter? If my position were weaker, I probably wouldn't consider it.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 2:34 PM on October 29, 2016

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