Returning to work after a significant time away? By thinking beyond salary while negotiating a job offer, you can maximize your employment package.

 

It used to be that a solid income, health insurance, paid vacation and, in some cases, performance bonuses, were the crème de la crème of employee benefits.

Today? Not so much.

In fact, a retirement plan, flexible work schedules and a casual dress code are among the perks today’s job seekers value more than pay raises, according to a 2015 Glassdoor survey. What’s more, a surprising majority of employees – 79% — said they value added benefits and perks more than pay raises.

“For example, while Millennials may value more dearly subsidized gym memberships and paid leaves to work at a nonprofit of the employer’s choosing,”  says Carroll Welch, a career coach focused on workplace reentry, “on-site child care and flexible schedules may be important to employees in their thirties.”

But what perks should be on your radar? Consider the following.

Flexibility

“Many of my clients who are reentering the workforce after a hiatus to care for children are fixated on getting part-time work,” says Welch. “However, when exploring what they really need, they often realize that it’s flexibility, not necessarily a reduction in hours, that’s most important.”

The good news: Depending on the industry and role, many employers are comfortable with and willing to allow employees to work at home, finish work in the evening, or take calls or meetings by teleconference. It’s important to note that this may not happen immediately upon employment, but may be a perk that’s granted after a period of months to a year.

Welch suggests taking inventory of what your non-negotiables and “must haves” are, and be ready to compromise on other aspects of the role before making requests of a potential employer.  “What are you willing to be flexible about?” she says. “If being able to work from home on Fridays is your most important perk, then perhaps you can give on another perk of less value to you.”

Executive Education

In the past, many employers typically paid for training when it was directly relevant to a specific role or skill needed to perform a job.

Today, “more employers are investing in their employees in terms of broader training and experience, and offering benefits that allow employees to pursue training, classes and conferences on a more regular basis,” says Kathryn Kerge, an executive search and talent acquisition expert.  “For example, some technology companies are inviting all their employees to take coding classes, regardless of role, as it’s an important technology skill that supports the company mission.  Other companies might offer employees attendance to one annual, industry-related conference to allow the employee to learn and build valuable business relationships.”

Not only are these types of continuing education opportunities beneficial to the larger workforce, they allow you to add to your professional network.

Wellness Offerings

Many firms have stayed competitive by offering subsidized memberships to area gyms. Today, the idea of wellness has been flipped on its head.

“Many companies are now including broader offerings such as free yoga at the office, access to wellness classes and coaches, and even free, catered healthy snacks and lunches,” says Kerge. “The idea that healthier and happy employees will be more committed and productive has become more than just a fad and is becoming a popular and well-received perk in many workplaces.”

Opportunities For Advancement

While you may be focused on the job at hand, you want to make sure it is a role at a company with plenty of room to grow, a benefit that’s often taken for granted.

“Look carefully at the opportunity being offered and what roles are available to  advance into down the road,” says Welch. “What training, mentoring and support does the employer offer so that you have the opportunity to grow professionally?  Perks that promote your career advancement are invaluable.”

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