How to negotiate non-financial rewards

For a long time, many people equated review time with a bonus or salary increase, however with an ever-changing economy, companies are not always in the position to offer pay rises – no matter how impressive your performance.

The good news is, as an employee, there are other benefits and rewards you are well within your rights to negotiate, and if a company has its employees’ best interests at heart, reasonable requests should be considered.

We asked 4000 Kiwis what the most valuable incentives were in lieu of more money and the top results were unanimous - if we can’t be offered more money, we want more time. 

Time is really of the essence to most New Zealanders who said that flexible working hours and extra annual leave would be on top of their lists. This also encompassed people saying they’d appreciate a rostered monthly day off (RDO), ‘work from home’ opportunities and a day off for their birthday.

Other non-time related perks people were interested in included prizes and praise for good work, as well as professional development opportunities.

So, come performance review time, how do you go about requesting perks when you know a pay rise isn’t in the cards? We’ve developed this guide to help you best negotiate non-financial benefits:

  • Define the next best options for you. While our study has suggested what most Kiwis want as reward for good work, there are lots of different options that will suit different people. Think about what will improve your professional and personal life, whether that’s being more present for your family or pets, or gaining experience in other parts of the business, for example. Then compile a prioritised list of two or three options you think are reasonable to request from your manager.
  • Have a game plan for how you’ll ask for it. Being prepared and clear about what you’re asking for is key to projecting confidence and therefore increasing your chances of successfully negotiating your rewards. Firstly, talking to your manager about tangible ways your work has benefited your team or the broader business is a sure-fire way to show that you’re deserving of the rewards. Then, having your list of non-financial rewards ready to talk through will present you as considered and prepared.
  • Sell the benefits of your chosen perks for you and the business. Being able to articulate the value your non-financial rewards can offer you and the business will help frame your request as a win-win situation. For example, if you want an extra five days of annual leave, talk about how you would use that time to reenergise (perhaps at a health retreat or on a staycation) which would, in turn, help you be more focused at work on your return.
  • Be prepared for all outcomes. While we all hope to work for companies that look out for their employees, it’s important to be prepared for the worst. As it is a negotiation after all, and companies are often looking to hit targets and do better financially, time off from work can sometimes be seen as dollars lost in the long run. If you walk away with no reward at all, consider your next game plan, whether that be researching other companies to work for or scheduling in another review sooner than usual. 
  • Try to negotiate a reconsideration of a pay rise down the track. Just because a pay rise is not an option now, it doesn’t mean that six or 12 months from now, a pay rise won’t be an option then. Once the meeting comes to a close and you have arrived at the benefits you will receive, be open with your manager about your intention to aim for a pay rise next time. Then, take some time to think about how you’ll go about negotiating a pay rise.