Written by: Jillian Climie.
I support women in negotiating for the compensation they deserve, and interestingly, the more women I work with, the more I’m reminded of one thing: time is your most important resource. We live in a society that rewards us for constantly pushing for more, and while this can be good in some ways, it continuously makes us feel like we’re not quite “there yet” – just a few more years of hard work before we can enjoy it, just a few more promotions before we’re at a respectable level of achievement. Accordingly, we allocate more and more of our time to work.
I had a client recently tell me that they were biking home from work, saw a stand on the street that was asking for volunteers, and spent the remainder of the night volunteering for that organization. I was shocked at her having unencumbered free time to make a last minute decision to spend hours volunteering. She is one of the smartest humans I know, and traded a role in a technology company for something that was more aligned with her values – and now has the time and energy to spend hours volunteering on the way home from work. She expressed how great spending her time in this way made her feel.
This example, and many others, have made me realize how important it is to have a sense of control over your time and how you spend it. And this impacts how and what we should be negotiating for.
In compensation negotiations, think about the value of your time
In negotiations, most people focus the majority of their energy on negotiating their salary, and then annual bonus and equity compensation (if applicable for you). These are essential to get right. As women, we must feel empowered to confidently negotiate in these areas so we can be paid what we deserve. Being paid appropriately for the value we're delivering enables us to have more flexibility and choice, and in turn, more control over our time.
However, I also want you to think about the other parts of your compensation and benefits package that can impact your time:
Vacation / Paid Time Off (PTO): this benefit is relatively straightforward. The more vacation or PTO you have, the more free time you have for doing things you love outside of work. Employers are starting to really understand the importance of taking time off for employee well-being, so we’re seeing vacation and PTO be more flexible and negotiable than ever before. If this is important to you, don’t be shy to ask for more.
Sabbaticals: another relatively straightforward policy, but one that can have a significant impact on your life. Being able to take a sabbatical, whether paid or unpaid, provides you with the ability to take space away from work when you need it. Space offers you perspective, which helps you determine what’s most important. Ask up front if this is something your employer offers.
Long-term savings programs and employee share purchase plans (ESPPs): having access to an RRSP, 401K, pension or ESPP that helps you save (and matches your contributions) gives you more time and freedom in the future. We don’t typically see these as the most exciting parts of an offer, but especially when you’re comparing offers from different companies, don’t discount these programs and the long-term impact they can have.
Flexible work schedules: remote work became prevalent during the pandemic, and we’ve seen with it the increase in flexible work schedules. Employers now realize that giving employees flexibility and autonomy most often increases their productivity – so if this is important to you, it’s still a great time to be negotiating for it. For example, if being able to work from home every Friday is essential for you to be productive and not work all weekend, try to get that in your offer at the outset.
Parental leave policies: depending on where you are in your life, and if having a family is something you’re considering, having a solid parental leave policy can be invaluable for your time. At The Thoughtful Co, we are passionate about employers offering their employees support and compensation through this period – read my Co-Founder’s article on it here. While these policies are not always negotiable, ask questions about them to ensure you understand how they work and how they can be best utilized. And especially if you’re comparing two offers, don’t hesitate to get into the details.
Allowances: as employers work to attract and retain the best talent, especially in the Great Resignation/Re-Shuffle environment, something that has become relatively common is allowances. These can be for a variety of things – from coaching sessions to health & wellness experiences to travel. They can help you to feel supported in spending time on the things that keep you happy, or the things that help you grow.
Non-competes and severance: these clauses can significantly impact your time and autonomy after you leave your employer. Non-competes can restrict what you do and where you go next, whereas severance can support you in having space to think through your next step. Make sure you thoroughly understand and feel comfortable with these clauses before you agree to them, and leverage an advisor if you need.
Role scope: while many of us don’t think about this while negotiating, compensation is closely linked to role scope, so it’s a great time to bring it up. Ensuring your role scope is rewarding but realistic is important. Clearly defining at the outset what is and is not in your scope can enable more control over your time and clarity over your career path.
Valuing your time can help you set your non-negotiables
As women, we often struggle with feeling confident about the value we bring at work. Women ask and expect for lower compensation than men do, and we're not socialized to feel comfortable articulating our worth. Understanding the importance of time to you, and how that’s linked to compensation, can help give you the confidence to set your non-negotiables. Being undercompensated for the hours you work does equate to less flexibility and free time. So use that as a way to motivate yourself to ask for what you deserve.
At The Thoughtful Co, we support you in getting the best compensation and benefits package you can – which includes all the elements described above, and more. This enables you to have more control over both your wealth and your time. Please reach out to us if you’d like support with this at firstname.lastname@example.org.