How to Negotiate a Great Wellness Package

Posted by Julia McVeigh on

When it comes to pursuing a new job, many of us are solely focused on the bottom line: Salary, bonus, equity. No doubt about it, money talks -- and it's a large determining factor when taking a new position. But money, it seems, isn't enough to keep employees satisfied. In fact, a recent study via jobs website Glassdoor noted something we've kind of known all along: Money doesn't buy employees happiness. What can buy happiness? Well, there remains consistent evidence that being healthy -- emotionally, physically and mentally -- are all positive indicators for happiness.

If wellness directly impacts our professional happiness, then, shouldn't be negotiating as rigorously for our health as we are for our money? That's what we think -- and ahead, we're dishing out some of the ways in which you can negotiate a great wellness package. 

CONSIDER MATERNITY AND PATERNITY LEAVE

Let these stats sink in: The U.S. is dead last in developing countries for our maternity and paternity leave policies, with only 12% of U.S. workers in the private sector being able to get paid family leave through their employer. Given this dismal state of affairs, it has never been more important to insert maternity and paternity leave into negotiations, particularly if you're planning on starting a family soon. While we still have a very long way to go, companies are increasingly beginning to understand the importance of a reasonable leave and most HR departments will be willing to negotiate (we think 12 weeks paid leave is the goal). 

DISCUSS VACATION AND PAID TIME OFF

So, you may be making the big bucks, but how's your vacation time looking? This is a personal one for me, as I once worked for a company that payed me very well, but offered only one week of vacation in my first year (which I couldn't take until I had worked there for six months!) Not surprisingly, that type of culture didn't bode well for me and I left within the year. (And took a serious vacation!) I use this anecdote to emphasize that getting vacation and paid time off is a really important negotiating point, especially when it comes to mental health. Push for at least two weeks and don't forget to cover sick leave, too. 

EXPLORE TELECOMMUTING AND FLEX TIME 

I have a good friend who just had her first child and was able to negotiate working from home every Friday with her employer. She told me that it's the best thing she's ever brokered -- better than any raise she could have ever asked for. She's not alone; telecommuters consistently report having more control over their schedules, feeling less burnout and stress and being able to spend more time with their families. So, if you're starting a new job and prefer working from home (or have a family and would like that flexibility), make that a negotiation point in your offer discussions.

ASK ABOUT WELLNESS PROGRAMS

Okay, you have a guaranteed bonus. But do you have a discounted gym membership? Seek to clarify the various employee health offerings that are available under your contract, including wellness discounts. Moreover, many progressive companies will lower our health insurance premiums if you take regular fitness assessments -- ask about it! 

mental health wellness workplace wellness

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