Perks Beyond Pay

April 17, 2019


With pay data now widely available online, many American workers are more comfortable asking for bigger starting salaries than they were in the past. According to a recent AAUW poll, 51 percent say they have negotiated for higher pay, with men negotiating slightly more than women (54 percent compared to 47 percent). But did you realize that people can ask for perks beyond their paycheck?

For example, many benefits can be negotiated, especially nonstandard ones like telecommuting and professional development programs—which is helpful to know, particularly in situations when an employer is unwilling to waver on starting salary. While a hiring manager might view flextime or extra vacation days as costing the company little, those offerings could be very valuable to you.

Indeed, it appears they are, at least to the people we heard from as part of our #AAUWAsks campaign on social media. We recently asked our followers and supporters to share their perspectives about the one thing they would negotiate for other than higher pay. Here are a few of the most-prized perks that emerged based on the dozens of comments we received on Facebook and Instagram:

  • Scheduling flexibility.
  • Remote work/telecommuting.
  • Help with student debt.
  • Paid family leave.
  • Paid vacation time.
  • Onsite child care.
  • Travel funds to attend conferences.
  • More flexible and less expensive health insurance options.
  • Paid sabbaticals.

We also created a poll on Twitter to get more insights into the top benefits you’d prioritize:


In this unscientific snapshot, the greatest number of respondents chose help with student loans, followed by remote work and paid family leave. For people interested in learning to negotiate better for benefits or higher pay, AAUW’s free Work Smart e-course includes the information and advice you need to make the ask. As the Class of ’19 prepares to enter the workplace—and with student debt a clear concern—Work Smart could be a helpful resource for helping new grads start on the right financial footing.

Tips for Getting What You Want

Work Smart covers how to structure your request in a professional manner so you have the highest likelihood of succeeding by:

  • Remaining positive and flexible.
  • Treating the negotiation process as a conversation, not a confrontation.
  • Showing how your skills match the employer’s needs.
  • Avoiding getting personal or oversharing.
  • Deflecting a salary discussion until you have a job offer.

Whether you’re negotiating for a higher salary or better benefits, a key part of the process is doing your homework. When it comes to benefits, work to establish the value of what you’re requesting, including standard benefits—such as health, dental and vision insurance—and nonstandard ones like commuter assistance. And rather than asking for more of everything, focus on the offerings that would make the biggest difference for you.

The Work Smart curriculum, available both online and through free in-person workshops in many cities, also covers how to ask for raises and promotions. Learning negotiation skills will not only enable more women succeed but help close the gender pay gap overall.

As AAUW CEO Kim Churches says, “there’s no silver bullet to closing the gap, but with our Work Smart program, women can begin to chip away at their own personal pay gaps and earn what they are worth.” And sometimes asking for—and getting—a benefit that turns a dream job into reality can be priceless.

By:   |   April 17, 2019