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A ‘Competitive Salary’ Should Include Benefits and Perks

Topics: Data & Research
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Are you gearing up to negotiate a job offer? As you prepare for this process, it’s important to know that many employers’ definition of a competitive salary has changed and become more favorable to employees. These days, a competitive compensation package is no longer just about base pay plus medical insurance and a 401k plan — it also includes bonuses, multiple benefits and perks.

What’s the New “Competitive” Salary Package?

Recently, we released our 2019 Compensation Best Practices Report (CBPR), which dives into how organizations make pay and benefits decisions in order to recruit candidates and motivate and retain employees. This data is gathered from over 7,030 HR professionals and business leaders ranging from small businesses to huge enterprises across North America and several other English-speaking countries.

Here are some noteworthy stats from PayScale’s 2019 CBPR on what employers are offering at this time:


Employers today are using a variety of bonuses and incentives to attract and retain employees. For example, 66 percent of organizations — and 74 percent of mid-size and large organizations — offer individual incentives based on performance. Fifty-six percent of organizations with 750 to 5,000 employees and 66 percent of firms with more than 5,000 employees offer hiring bonuses. Profit-sharing (when employees get a cut of the company profits) is offered by 23 percent of organizations.

66 percent of organizations — and 74 percent of mid-size and large organizations — offer individual incentives based on performance.Click To Tweet

Employer-paid medical/dental/vision insurance and 403b/401K are now table stakes

These items are no longer differentiators for employers: 77 percent of organizations provide healthcare insurance to their full-time staff and 72 percent provide 403b or 401k plans.

Work-life balance is now a normal part of the deal

Many organizations are starting to embrace work-life balance as a benefit. Forty-four percent of organizations offered remote work in 2018 (up from 39 percent in 2017); 37 percent offer flex-time and 10 percent of organizations adhere to a four-day work week. Although the number of organizations offering unlimited PTO is still relatively low, its prevalence has nearly doubled in the last two years (9 percent in 2018 versus 5 percent in 2016).

In the same survey, we also asked organizations to tell us what new benefits they plan to offer in 2019. Based on our findings, it’s clear that organizations are now considering work-life balance as a significant portion of total compensation.

In 2019, over a quarter of organizations plan to offer remote work; 24 percent plan to allow flexible schedules; 17 percent plan to provide gym membership or reimbursement; just under 10 percent of organizations plan offering transportation allowances and a four-day work-week.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

Paid family leave is on the rise

Thirty-two percent of organizations provided paid family leave in 2018 — up from 29 percent last year. Paid family leave is far more prevalent for the largest employers (those with 5,000 or more employees) than the smallest ones (those with between 1-99 employees): 39 percent of the largest employers provide this benefit versus just 28 percent of the smallest firms. By a stretch, this benefit is most common in the technology industry (45 percent of tech firms provide this benefit).

32 percent of organizations provided paid family leave in 2018 -- up from 29 percent last year. Click To Tweet

Education or tuition reimbursement

If you’re planning to take more classes to keep your skills fresh; this is a great time to do so as it’s very likely that your employer will cover at least some of the cost. In 2018, 45 percent of organizations provided education or tuition reimbursement as a benefit; and midsize (those with 750-5,000 employees) and large organizations (those with more than 5,000 employees) are significantly more likely to provide it.

Ask for More

Take advantage of today’s job-seeker friendly climate and make sure you get the best deal you possibly can with your next gig. After all, no one knows when the climate may change, and there are already signs that a recession could be around the corner.

Next time you consider a job offer, be sure to ask about the types of bonuses you may receive and the criteria for earning them, as bonuses can easily net you another $10,000, $20,000 in cash or even more.

And if benefits and perks aren’t clearly articulated in a job posting, go ahead and ask the prospective employee what they provide, and let them know which ones matter to you.

Lastly, it’s useful to verify that a perk is really a perk. For example, if your new employer offers unlimited PTO, and taking vacations matters a lot to you, let the firm know up front you’d like to take five weeks of vacation per year and have that written into the offer.

Tell Us What You Think

What sorts of benefits have you been able to negotiate recently? Share them with us in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.

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