February 7, 2022
Four Steps to Negotiate Work-Life Balance in a Job Offer
by Amy Stuntz
Woohoo! You’ve made it through the interview process and received an offer from what feels like your dream employer. Now comes the hard part- negotiating. Compensation isn’t the only thing companies have wiggle room on to sweeten the offer. Work-life balance, with a flexible work schedule being the most common, is a hot commodity. Define what workplace flexibility means to you before accepting the job offer. Here are four steps to start the conversation and negotiate the terms you want.
Step One: Explain Your Reasons & Needs
However you broach the subject, do so from a heartfelt, honest, and transparent place. Hiring managers are human beings, too. We all have obligations outside of the office and a typical 9 am-5 pm routine. Give a few examples like, “I have to help my elderly mother to her doctor’s appointments every other week,” or “My son has soccer practice T & Th. I need to leave early on those days to get him there.”
Most employers will be understanding especially if they see how at the very least your schedule won’t hurt them… and could actually help the business. Here are some ways they will get creative:
- Modified Hours- This could be where you work from 7 am- 4 pm when others on the team start between 8-8:30 am. This is very common as companies have operations, clients and employees in different time zones.
- Flex Time- A lot of companies allow up to two hours away from the office for appointments without requiring PTO. All you need to do is work with the hiring manager on a way to make up that time.
- Hybrid Schedules- This is one step away from 100% work-from-home. The pandemic has shown companies that they don’t need employees to work 5 days/week in the office. A huge portion of companies offer a 3/2 schedule with 3 days/week in the office and 2 days/week at home. This gives you a break from long commutes and allows you to schedule personal commitments on the days you work from home.
Step Two: Proactively Offer Solutions
Feel out what the company might be most comfortable with by suggesting a few options that work for you. Recall any conversations during the interview process that suggest workplace flexibility. Did the hiring manager mention other employees being out of the office or working from home due to personal commitments?
Ask for a copy of the Employee Handbook and Benefits Summary. Many employers also interpret Work-Life balance as ways to provide mental health resources. In these documents you’ll see enterprise-wide services that could give you the R&R you deserve.
If the hiring manager is still a bit skeptical, ask them to agree to a trial run. Discuss possible outcomes from the experiment such as:
- If a flexible arrangement is not successful, you will agree to a standard work schedule.
- If it is successful, agree to put your alternative schedule in writing into perpetuity.
Step Three: Put Your Schedule Down in Writing
A lot of the workplace flexibility you’ll receive will be at the approval and support of your direct supervisor. Up to this point all the dialogue has been verbal; however, we recommend you solidify the plan in writing. That way as changes take place within the company’s ownership & leadership or overall philosophy on workforce engagement, you can point back to terms & conditions in your offer of employment.
Step Four: Schedule a Check-In
It’s easy to talk about all of these issues pre-acceptance and forget about the issue once you’ve started. Changes mentioned in step three aren’t exclusive to an employer. Your needs are likely to change too. Before that comes, and crisis mode sets in, think about when you can talk about how things are going with your boss.
- Your annual review is a great time to bring up your schedule. You’ve gotten glowing marks on your performance. If you need to make changes, those positive vibes are sure to influence your boss. If nothing has changed, let them know that too. At a minimum you want to keep the conversation front and center on an annual basis.
- Your 90-day new hire mark. Most companies want to check in and see how things are going being the new kid on the block. Whether your negotiation was easy or an arduous task, the fact is you received this accommodation and you want to let your boss know how it’s working out, especially if it’s going well.