There is more to getting paid for the work you do than just a salary. Depending on the industry, position, and level of experience, benefits packages can include bonuses and stock options, or other less tangible options that give satisfaction and happiness at work.
Base salary is the standard compensation you receive for the job you have been hired to do. Because the labour market is comprised of organizations in different sectors – eg. self-employment, sales, small companies, e-businesses, etc., base salaries will differ accordingly.
Stock options are becoming one of the more popular incentives to offer employees. This allows you to purchase company shares at a special employee price. Sometimes stock is simply given as bonuses. Organizations see this as a good opportunity to motivate their staff by giving them a vested interest in the overall success of the company.
Bonuses are becoming more widely used in the workplace. The more responsibility you have, the more likely your compensation will include bonuses. This ensures the organization that you will go out on a limb for them since you have a stake in their company. Profit sharing, gain sharing, instant incentives, and recognition awards all make up the types of bonuses available.
Benefits affect your physical and financial health as well as your lifestyle. Employers give benefits because in some areas, it is required by law. In other cases, employers simply want you to be personally satisfied so you can give them 100% of your potential. Common benefits are health, vision, and dental coverage; pension plan; insurance; daycare; vacation; tuition subsidies; and memberships to health clubs.
There has been an increase in alternative work arrangements driven by the desire of employees to have more time for their families or to pursue other interests. Organizations that understand the importance of keeping good employees happy and thus have introduced programs such as telecommuting (a work-at-home program), flextime, functional dressing, and job sharing.
Finding Salary Information
Browsing the internet is the good place to start. If you still need more information, try contacting industry associations in your sector. They would know if a recent survey exists, and might be willing to answer a specific question for free. To identify organizations in your field, consult the Associations Canada directory.
Also, if there are any trade publications specializing in news coverage of your industry, they may mention or produce their own salary surveys. If the workplace is unionized, find out which union represents your category of workers and call them to find out about salary ranges.
Negotiating Salary and Benefits
Negotiating your compensation package can be a tricky process. Check out these tips to get started:
- Research your profession’s salary range as outlined above and negotiate based on facts — not just on your preferences.
- Determine a target salary range — having a specific objective can help you get close.
- Don’t initiate salary and benefits discussions. Wait for the interviewer to bring the subject up even if it’s postponed to a second interview. Typically, the best time to negotiate your salary is after you receive the offer, and before you accept it.
- When application forms ask for your salary and benefits requirements, say “They are negotiable” — without knowing the details about benefits and the position, you can’t accurately select a salary figure. If you are asked to provide current salary, write “To be covered during the interview”.
- Consider the cost of living if you are moving to a new area. If it’s higher, you can suggest that you be paid a differential.
- If discussing why you deserve a substantial increase, use examples of your accomplishments that prove your value, not merely your experience. Comparisons to your current salary are irrelevant and should be avoided.
- Always assume a firm’s first offer is negotiable and never accept an offer at the interview. Express your strong interest, tell your interviewers that you will contact them shortly with your decision. Analyse all the offers with a family member or a friend. You can also get an objective second opinion from an insurance, investment, or bank professional.
- Keep in mind that some components of your compensation package might be non-negotiable. Entry-level positions are often attached to job grades with preset salary ranges. If this is the case, focus on the aspects that might be negotiable including starting date, date of first salary review, mentorship, or education assistance.
Evaluating Multiple Offers?
Here are some tips from a recent employer survey:
- Consider both offers – determine which is better for you and negotiate with that institution before accepting. Don’t just focus on short-term items like signing bonuses – consider your fit with the position and the organization in the long-term.
- Be honest with the employers; indicate time pressures you may be under to accept an offer from someone else. You can ask for more time to consider your options – most employers will consider a short extension reasonable.
- If both offers are attractive, honestly let them know what it is that is appealing about the other offer.
- Do not play the organizations off against each other to leverage your salary – this is considered unethical and will reflect badly on your character. You could even have your offer rescinded.