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Tag Archives: Management

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Turning your experience into accomplishments and skills

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Since you were old enough to start your first job or tackle school assignments, you’ve been accumulating the experiences needed to land your ideal job.

Sooner or later, you will be involved in a job search where you’ll want to put your knowledge, skills and experience to work for an employer who fits you well. At the same time, employers will be looking for someone with the right skills and experience who will also be a great fit in their organization. Whether or not you’ll land your ideal job will depend on how well you translate your experience into accomplishments and skills that match a prospective employer.

Whether you’re a recent grad or an experienced professional, your objective will be the same: matching your experience and skills to those needed by your future employer. Here’s how both experienced workers and recent grads can leverage their unique experience and skill set.

Translating Experience to Accomplishments and Skills

Tara and Davis are two candidates with similar levels of experiences, knowledge and skills. Both have maintained comparable performance levels while handling inbound customer calls in a busy customer care department. And both have applied for the same job opening.

Whose response is more convincing in answering a question about prioritizing and accomplishing tasks?

  • Tara, who confidently says, “I know how to prioritize my work because I do this every day with my task list. I also do a great job in tracking all the important priorities in my daily work. I have to keep current on all the important parts of my job in addition to handling the inbound calls.”
  • Davis, who hands you yesterday’s task list and says, “Here’s a print out of my task list from yesterday. You can see how I assigned the different tasks A, B, or C for their priority, and see that I was able to accomplish everything on my list yesterday – in addition to my handling 31 inbound customer service calls in my role as CSR.”

In her response, Tara made claims about her work with strong confidence, telling you that she can prioritize and track her progress. Davis used a different approach by offering proof of what he did (yesterday’s task list) and then framed his accomplishments by giving you the number of calls he took while accomplishing the tasks.

Both claim skills. One offered proof.

Suppose Tara and Davis reflect the same approach as the example above in their résumés, LinkedIn profiles and job applications, as well as their answers to interview questions. Which one do you hire?

Key point: you must translate your knowledge and experience into quantifiable accomplishments and skills if you want to land the job. To learn more about how to do this, read my post on how to create a results-driven résumé.

Guidance for College Students & Recent Grads

By the time you graduate, you’ll have learned about 700 skills translatable to the workplace everything from managing a schedule to using productivity software to basic communication skills. These skills were learned and mastered throughout your childhood. You have everything from which to draw out these skills for a prospective employer. For example:

  • That lemonade stand you and your friends put on your front lawn and ran for two months when you were seven is a great example for communicating your skills and accomplishments of entrepreneurship, sales, customer service, organization, planning and much more.
  • How about the baby-sitting service you organized when you were 12? What did you do specifically that led parents to re-hire you? Or maybe you trained two friends to do the same thing, formed a babysitter’s club and made up flyers to canvass your neighborhood.
  • All those sports you played in school or in your neighborhood – what was your effect on the team? How did you help others get better?
  • What did you learn from playing video games that led you to develop a few of your own?
  • What did you do in your school projects that achieved a good result? What did you learn to do well from those projects?

The list is endless. Every part-time or summer job, major school assignment, club or team participation, internship, or overcoming obstacles provided you with translatable accomplishments and skills.

What to do with this. Build an inventory that allows you to capture your experiences, then translate them into measurable accomplishments and skills, and use them as the examples you’ll give in a job interview, on your résumé, and in your social media profiles.

Guidance for Experienced Professionals and Skilled Workers

Your résumé, social profiles, and job applications should NEVER read like a job description’s list of key duties. Savvy job seekers express their knowledge and experience by presenting their quantified accomplishments and the key skills they used to have success. NOBODY cares about a candidate’s job duties when interviewing them. It’s all about what the candidate has actually accomplished that matters.

So what should you, the experienced professional and skilled worker, do with this?

  1. For every job you’ve had since graduation, identify your top five accomplishments. What were your measurable results in each? How much, how long, compared to what standard/others? Turn each accomplishment into one or two sentences, then distill further into a single bullet point.
  2. Your current and first most recent jobs should have four or five accomplishments listed this way. Older jobs should have three accomplishments; jobs older than 10 years have one or two.
  3. Develop your example story that you’ll use with each accomplishment. What was the situation and circumstances you faced, what did you do, and haw did it turn out? Your story adds depth and credibility to your accomplishment, and further proves your case.
  4. Consider as references those who can attest to your accomplishments. Send them your résumé and re-familiarize them with what happened, so that when they are called for a reference, they can confirm what you’ve told your interviewers.

Bottom Line

Regardless of where you are in your career – just starting out, at the top of your profession, or looking to wind down – you’ll need to master the art and science of communicating your accomplishments and skills and illustrate them with example stories, in order to land your next job.

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5 fresh ways to beat consumer decision fatigue in your social media and digital marketing

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As a business owner or marketer, you’ve probably thought that the causes of decision fatigue which could stop a consumer from paying attention to your brand messages online are completely out of your control, right? Think again. Decision fatigue has everything to do with the specifics of your customers’ lives at any given moment, and nothing to do with the quality of your brand and product.

In fact, a new study from the University of Birmingham finds that the root of decision fatigue is physical and ebbs and flows — the more tired you are in the moment, the less likely you are to want to work at anything, including making choices.

So, when you understand why and when consumers are likely to choose what you have to give them, you can tailor your digital and social media marketing accordingly, and your sales will soar. Sound good? Try these science-driven strategies to make it happen.

Post medical marketing materials early in the morning.

A fascinating study from The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, the Wharton School and Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Penn Medicine and Crescenz Veterans Affairs Medical Center found that, in real time in primary care physicians’ offices, recommendation rates for cancer screenings drop in the afternoon, as decision fatigue takes hold for the doctor and conceivably, for the patient as well. This can be due to physical tiredness, mental overload, or multitasking.

If you want to be most effective in terms of marketing important medical products and services, post your ads in the 8 a.m. hour so your target audience is the most clear and alert, and can evaluate your offerings most positively.

Change ads frequently throughout the day.

A Lancaster University study from researcher Tom Wilcockson found that most people do 15-second smartphone checks unconsciously many times throughout their days — they go, essentially on attention autopilot through this repetition. Interestingly, though, a follow-up study by Wilcockson found that when people take a 24-hour break from their phones, their moods remain stable.

What that means for your marketing approach: You need to switch up what you show them to jolt them to attention, in a good way. Yet don’t change your overall marketing message — even if consumers don’t look at your ads for a day or so, their basic interest should remain the same. Your winning strategy: Always prep multiple ads within your campaigns, and revolve them multiple times a day, rather than running one ad for a period of days or weeks before switching up.

Gauge your audience’s ethics.

Consumers never want to feel they have been fooled. In terms of your strategy, always be sure your marketing is scrupulously honest and accurate.

Know, too, that timing can work further in your favor here — if you have a competitor who isn’t so honest and accurate, posting a morning ad can help you get a “goodness jump” on reaching your demo.

Keep your message clean.

Simple, straightforward language your consumers can easily interpret stops them from having to guess what you mean, then guess if they got your message right.

Survey, survey, survey.

Ask your audience how exactly they chose to use your product. The more you understand how the wheels turn in the specifics of their decision-making processes, the easier and clearer you can facilitate their choices — it’s a win-win!

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Infographic: Why the hybrid workplace is the future of work

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Let’s face it — when companies and management talk about everyone needing to return to the office, it makes you wonder: Is this really necessary? Many who are in favor of people needing to be in a physical office together argue that we’ll be losing out on chance hallway encounters and watercooler conversations. To counter this argument, remote work enthusiasts say there isn’t actual evidence that these artificial situations will automatically lead to positive results.

No matter which side you are on, chances are that we won’t be out of the woods of the global pandemic soon, so flexibility of management and mindset will be key going forward.

That said, many have conceded that a hybrid workforce — sometimes in an office and sometimes remote — may be the most effective way to keep a company humming along at optimum capacity and resources. Learn more about how and why the hybrid workplace is the workforce of the future in the visual deep dive below.

Are Hybrid Workplaces The Future? - TrackTime24.com
Infographic courtesy of: TrackTime24.com

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Make every interview, sales call and presentation better with post-mortem analysis

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Following the completion of a project, sales presentation or job interview, a best practice is to perform a post-mortem analysis — a process where you assess what went wrong in a project. While the most important perspective will be the assessment your interviewers and customers make, it is highly instructive to objectively and candidly evaluate how you did during each meeting. It is possible that your prospects, interviewers, project team members and customers may provide you with feedback on what you did and did not do well, but that is not the norm. The best feedback you may get from them is their body language during the meeting, and the messaging it sent.

Mastering the interview or selling process is a series of progressive realizations and learnings coupled with continuous improvement, and the meeting post-mortem process is the most organized way to drive this.

Break Down the Process

As part of your pre-meeting planning, consider the factors and actions that will make your meeting successful. Since planning is the thinking that precedes the work, what specific steps or actions do you want to take to optimize your interview or presentation meeting?

For both job interviews and sales presentations, such factors could include the quality of your preparation and research; a timely arrival; being appropriately attired; a strong introduction that builds rapport and trust; your suite of active listening skills; modeling effective body language; clear and concise answers; an effective use of proof documents; a good summary; and an agreement of next steps.

Additional sales factors might include the quality of your needs assessment and its ability to expose the prospects circumstances, motivation, and points of pain; presenting solutions tailored to uncovered needs; your observation of their buying signals; how effectively you identified and handled points of resistance; and how well you tied your solution’s features to benefits that mattered to your customer.

Additional job interview factors could include how effectively you utilized examples to support your answers; how well you handled the deeper, probing questions; your tone and demeanor during the least enjoyable parts of the interview, and your use of pre-interview research that demonstrated a deep level of understanding of both the employer and your interviewers.

Ask Yourself the Right Questions

Write down all of the appropriate factors you’d like to assess in your post-mortem analysis, in order of where they fit in the meeting flow. A good list will assess 12-15 areas. Then answer these three questions about EACH area as candidly as possible:

  1. In this area, what things went as well or better than I wanted?
    These are the things you’ll want to replicate in future meetings.
  2. In this area, what didn’t go as well as I would have liked … and why not?
    This will expose the greatest opportunities for you to improve next time.
  3. What specific changes do I need to make for next time?
    This is the heart of your post-mortem, and where you’ll need to be very specific. Don’t just say that you need to improve your body language…WHAT SPECIFICALLY needs to change to improve?

Here’s a little secret. Not many people will be diligent to spend the time and effort required to perform a detailed post-mortem. A quick two-minute reflection won’t move the needle much on making the changes necessary to vault you to the top of group. Your investment of time may seem high now, but in two or three cycles you will see dramatic improvements in what you accomplish.

Bottom line

Your diligence in performing detailed and thoughtful post-mortem analyses will accelerate your mastery of the process and set you above the vast majority of people with whom you will compete for a job or sale.

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Infographic: How emotional intelligence can make you successful in business

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While you can learn a lot of technical skills in school and in the trenches at work, emotional intelligence is a key ingredient to your future success. If you think soft skills and emotional intelligence are just nice to have, think again. Ninety percent of employees that display emotional intelligence are the high performers in a business, and just a single point in emotional intelligence can bring you up to $1,300 in additional income.

So, where did emotional intelligence come from? In 1990, the phrase was coined in a research paper by psychology professors John D. Mayer and Peter Salovey. Later in 1995, Daniel Golman published “Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ.

What comprises emotional intelligence? Self-awareness, self-regulation and empathy. These, coupled with social skills and motivation, can really get you places.

So, why is this not stressed more in schools before going off to the workforce? Great question.

Learn more about how emotional intelligence is your key to future success in the visual deep dive below:

Infographic courtesy GradSchoolCenter

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The future of virtual L&D: Implementing online professional development strategies

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Even the most well-educated and experienced professionals in any industry have room to grow. The best team members and leaders never stop looking for new ways to strengthen their skills and gain new talents. However, going back for another degree or attending a conference isn’t always financially feasible and may not work with everyone’s schedules. Online learning and professional development is the next step leaders can implement and use to their advantage.

Here are five keys to implementing a successful virtual learning and development program.

1. Identify Key Values and Objectives

Lesson plans, lectures and activities always center on primary learning objectives. What should participants take away from their time spent developing their industry knowledge? Many learning and development (L&D) experts start by identifying a team or company’s fundamental values. The objectives will use them to guide each lesson, like centering workplace meetings around communication and teamwork.

2. Reflect on Current Dilemmas

What is current leadership lacking that virtual training can improve? Although it’s a valuable tool for training new employees for leadership roles, it can also refine existing teams that aren’t meeting their full potential.

Reflect on what existing leaders could work on to create the best virtual L&D lessons possible. The presentation might focus on becoming comfortable with uncertainty so people grow outside of their comfort zones. The classes could teach about how to better prepare for conferences or training events. It depends on the leadership team’s duties and where they can become stronger.

3. Find the Best Format

Some people will learn more quickly by listening to lectures. Others will want to participate by answering questions or studying for tests. Anyone who wants to know how to implement online professional development classes should find the best format for their audience.

Take a poll of preferred learning styles or reflect on the course material to pinpoint the best way to make it more easily understood. This might mean videoconferencing with guest speakers that capture everyone’s attention or selecting highlighted sessions within certification training for everyone to study. Team members will value their virtual L&D if they’re comfortable with how they can access the information.

4. Connect With Creative Tools

Creative thinking may result in online professional development tools that make an instructional lesson more successful. Consider creating polls for participants to take during lectures to check in with how much they’re understanding. Use a drawing program to encourage everyone to collaborate in real-time on an activity prompt.

Taking a break from reading or listening will engage everyone on a deeper level and make the lesson easier to remember after finishing their virtual L&D courses.

5. Test the Tech Beforehand

Digital presentations are never foolproof, so test the tech before anyone checks into the virtual waiting room. Run through the presentation, open the drawing software and click any links viewers need to understand the material. It’s better to solve glitches before the lessons begin so no one feels like their essential professional development was a waste of time.

Implement Online Professional Development Strategies

Now that you know how to implement online professional development, reflect on your team’s leadership abilities and needs. Whether you need to train an incoming group of employees or refine an existing group’s skills, these virtual development strategies will make the entire process easier and more memorable for everyone involved.

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False negatives in COVID-19 testing and what they mean for your business

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As the country reopens, the COVID-19 crisis will continue to impact your brand for the foreseeable future — sometimes in surprising ways you never considered. What would the impact on your business be if your patrons or staff test negative for COVID-19 as you try to re-establish operations — but it turns out they are actually positive?

A key study by Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers, can offer you insight and answers. Several crucial points that were cited in the study clearly define the importance of accurate testing, and specifically, how COVID false negatives tend to occur in real time. For example:

  • The researchers found that the chance of a false negative result — when a virus is not detected in a person who actually is, or recently has been, infected — is greater than 1 in 5. Often, the odds are a lot higher, too.
  • The chance of a false negative result drops from 100% on Day 1 of being infected to 67% on Day 4. The false negative rate decreased to 20% three days after symptoms show up. 38% of people showing symptoms actually test negative on the day they feel sick.
  • The chance of a false negative increases again a surprising three weeks AFTER exposure to COVID-19.

Clearly, false negatives can be problematic on many levels as you attempt to conduct normal business or reestablish your brand, especially in light of the highly contagious Delta variant. The good news: there are clear, proactive steps you can take to mitigate this issue. In the case of a false negative case, your goal is to emphasize safe business policies your employees are uniformly aware of, and crafting straightforward marketing messages for those who frequent your establishments or corporate headquarters. The following four steps can help you do this seamlessly.

Use the human touch.

What’s the right approach when it comes to informing the public that an employee thought to be COVID-free is actually ill? Research from the University of Exeter found that people prefer contact tracing to be carried out via a combination of human interaction and apps. The most important thing to keep in mind is, yes, your customers may like the ease and speed of digital notification, but they also need to trust the knowledge you are giving them. It’s important to be personable, plus take personal responsibility, so they understand exactly what their risk is in connection to contact with your worker. Reach out directly to those you know have patronized your business, be honest, and offer any further info or clarification you can.

Spell out your entrance policies in capital letters — literally!

Post clear, obvious signage outside your entrances that details your specific guidance for the patrons entering your building so there is no confusion. Are masks required? State it. Proof of vaccination? Let that be clearly understood. This approach lets the public know you take their safety, and the safety of your employees seriously. It has even more impact in the event you have an employee who has dealt with COVID-19.

Communicate testing and/or vaccination requirements for your employees in a clear way.

A new study from the University of Wyoming finds that explaining the benefits of getting the COVID vaccine to someone’s personal health makes vaccination rates more likely to rise. If you are not mandating vaccination at your business, holding an informational seminar or sharing fact sheets that explain why the vaccine is safe can go a long way to convince your unvaccinated employees to get immunized, and help both themselves, their co-workers and your customers. After an employee experiences a false negative, you’ll find many of your employees are more receptive to the data you present.

Reassure, reassure, reassure.

Tell your workers and customers that your absolute priority is keeping them safe. Let everyone know you are using current science to do this; work with local authorities and your board of health to stay up to date on current case rates, alerts and guidance. Reassurance builds trust–and trust allows everyone to do their very best work.

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Infographic: Could STIR/SHAKEN regulations help make spam calls the exception?

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We all tend to think that we get more spam calls than anyone we know, but statistically speaking, you’re definitely not alone. On average, no less than 54% of incoming phone calls are spam and 46% of Americans receive spam calls every single day.

In 2020 alone, spam calls cost Americans $10 billion, and 175,699,527 robocalls were received every day for a total of 46 billion robocalls per year.

One of the ways spammers appear more convincing is through spoofing. Spammers spoof real numbers that look valid. Because of this tactic, robocalls were able to nearly double from 2017 to 2019. This has not only decreased trust of all unknown phone numbers, but has also hurt valid businesses who are attempting to connect with consumers.

Fortunately, lawmakers are working to address the problem through STIR/SHAKEN regulations. STIR (Secure Telephony Identity Revisited) and SHAKEN (Secure Handling of Asserted information using toKENs) are frameworks that aim to prevent the completion of illegally spoofed calls, making use of caller-ID authentication to determine whether a call is spam or authentic.

Businesses stand to benefit from STIR/SHAKEN when they are accredited and verified. They can also use cloud-based phone systems that will maximize trust, touchpoints and conversations.

Check out the following infographic for more information on how STIR/SHAKEN regulations could help make spam calls the exception.

STIR/SHAKEN Is Changing The Future Of Phone Calls

Infographic courtesy PhoneBurner.

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Securing your systems for long-term hybrid work

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When widespread shutdowns forced an overnight shift to remote work, financial services companies made rapid-fire adjustments to their tech stacks to keep teams up and running. Many of these changes, however, were designed to be temporary. More than a year later, as offices reopen and many organizations adopt long-term hybrid work models, companies should act now to assess the changes they made—and ensure that their software and systems are secure today and into the future.

Even when changes were made as securely as possible, remote connectivity introduced risks that simply weren’t there previously in the financial services industry, which has historically leaned heavily on protective measures like physical protections, firewalls and network segmentation. The use of noncorporate assets surged to enable remote workers, all the while firms struggled to provision, patch, update and manage mobile devices and laptops centrally for a remote workforce, increasing the threat posed by ransomware, credential theft and other cyberattacks.

It’s clear now that the move to remote work or hybrid remote work is not a short-term work style. Nine in 10 executives envision a hybrid model going forward, according to research by McKinsey, and most employers expect their employees to be on site between one and four days a week. In the financial services industry in particular, nearly two-thirds of employees say they would prefer a blend of home, office and remote work, a recent survey found.

Given this outlook for the long term, financial services need to take steps now to secure their systems for the future. Here’s how:

Step one: Understand what systems were affected

Many financial services organizations may find that they don’t even know what networks and systems were opened, modified, augmented or changed during the pandemic. That’s why a good first step is for the CISO or CTO to make a thorough assessment. Which of your systems did you change, both in terms of what could connect with them and what they could talk to? You may find that you don’t know what you don’t know. If that’s the case, start with your most business-critical systems.

Step two: Understand how the systems were affected

Most organizations found that the shift to remote work necessitated adding remote access where it didn’t exist before. With each of the systems you are assessing, what was changed related to access, identity and encryption? Did security protections change to facilitate a remote workforce or are there new systems connecting? Do the changes meet your current security needs, and are there processes and access still in place that are operating under an exception to your security policy?

Step three: Decide what you want to do about it

You may find that all of your systems are secure, that there are risks you’re willing to accept, or that you need to remediate what you put in place during the pandemic. It doesn’t necessarily mean going back to the old; rather, it’s about adapting your new configurations to meet pre-pandemic security requirements, for example by putting in new controls, improving security, implementing two-factor authentication or removing technology altogether.

For many organizations, the decision of how to proceed hinges on their risk profile. Are you trying to protect against a remote unknown adversary, an internal actor such as a contractor or a rogue employee, or IT administrators within your organization? Each presents a different threat and necessitates a different set of security precautions. How you design systems depends on what you’re most worried about as an organization—and the risks you are willing to accept.

How to adapt existing cybersecurity infrastructure for hybrid workforces

Although each organization is unique, there are some functions that are commonly affected by remote connectivity in the financial services industry:

  • Secure identities: Organizations can use certificate-based identities, tokens or multi-factor authentication to ensure that remote workers are connecting securely—and that the people connecting to systems are who they say they are.
  • Secure network communications: Financial services firms that had to open their networks to enable remote access can use encryption tunnels such as IPsec (a protocol suite that enable a computer to talk to another over an encrypted tunnel) to enable devices to communicate more securely.
  • Device management: The first line of defense against any cyberattack, including Ransomware, involves making sure that systems are managed, updated, patched and protected with antivirus software. Additionally, consider implementing a device management solution like Microsoft Intune, AirWatch or MobileIron to ensure that all devices are up to date. Make a long-term plan for how your organization will update and refresh remote workforce devices as well as provision and send devices to new employees.
  • Remote access and security: Financial services firms that previously relied on physical controls and firewalls to isolate network segments can leverage solutions such as bastion hosts to proxy access into secure payment processing networks.

Remote work, in one form or another, is here to stay. There’s no such thing as a perfectly secure system, at least not one that functions, but by taking a pragmatic approach to network connectivity and security, balancing workflows with the risks the organization is willing to accept and designing systems accordingly, financial services firms can make their systems more secure for long-term hybrid work.

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What’s negotiable in your raise, promotion or job offer?

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With the war for talent raging in the global marketplace, there has never been a better time to negotiate what you want in a raise, promotion or job offer.

Chances are good that sometime during the next 24 months you’ll be in a negotiation for your next raise, a new promotion, or a new job. The great news is that there are far more options at your disposal to raise your overall compensation than you might think.

Payroll Compensation From an Employer’s Perspective

Recognize that payroll compensation carries with it several conditions that make negotiating it more complicated. First, payroll dollars carry with them employer-paid taxes (Social Security and Medicare) as well as employer-paid federal and state unemployment insurance premiums. Unemployment insurance premiums are also tied to the employer’s payroll dollars. The compound effect of payroll taxes and insurances make every $1 in gross pay cost the employer at least $1.10.

Second, many employers need to maintain some form of pay equity to assure that people are paid fairly across employees who do the same work, reflecting an individual’s productivity and experience levels. Third, many employers use job grading and salary banding to assure that job equity is maintained across all departments throughout the organization.

For these reasons, employers have less flexibility and inclination to grant payroll-based raises than other non-payroll compensation options.

Payroll Compensation From an Employee’s Perspective

Ben Franklin was right: taxes are a certainty. Your gross pay is taxable (along with some non-payroll compensation). What’s the impact of taxes on your gross pay? To find out, add together your federal, state, and local income tax deductions from gross pay and you’ll discover that it is more than you think. And since tax rates are progressive, you get taxed at a higher marginal tax rate the more payroll compensation you receive.

Question: What may be a better alternative to payroll-based compensation for you?

Answer: Non-payroll-based compensation that is not taxable!

The Double-Win Power of Non-Taxable Compensation

Both employers and employees can benefit when the compensation is non-taxable. Consider Jon Edwardson. He negotiated a flexible working arrangement that let him work from home one day a week instead of traveling from his residence to the office. His commuting costs (bus, train, gas, tolls, parking, etc.) work out to $22 per day and he spends about an hour daily in his commute.

By cutting 50 trips in to work a year, he has just gotten an after-tax pay raise of $1,100 and a full week of time back for the year. This helps Jon maintain a better work/life balance. His employer wins because Jon is less distracted when working at home, allowing him to concentrate better and be more productive…without paying Jon more.

21 Great Alternatives to Payroll Compensation You Can Negotiate

Here’s a shocking fact: According to Jobvite, 71 percent of employees DO NOT negotiate their compensation beyond what the employer offers. That means most people are leaving money on the table! How about you?

Here are twenty-one non-payroll compensation options that can be negotiated as part of a raise, job offer, or promotion. Some of these elements may be contrary to an employer’s policy; others could be easily offered with little perceived cost on the part of the employer.

Since everyone values different things differently, you’ll need to decide which of these items you’d like to have made part of your compensation. The alternatives are listed in no specific order, and do not form an exhaustive list.

  1. Job title. Job titles could be important to you for several reasons. Holding a job whose title suggests advancement over your prior position is a way to show career growth. It also may increase the perceived level of the position internally and externally. For example, vice president and general manager appears more significant than general manager alone; executive assistant is likely to be perceived as having greater impact than clerical assistant. You can negotiate job titles for starting positions as well as what it will be once you’ve successfully completed and agreed-upon time period (such as following completion of a trial period or after a year of successful performance).
  2. Flexible working schedules. If the position does not require being available over a specific set of hours, you may be able to request a flexible starting and/or ending time that works better for your personal situation. Flexible working schedules might also include swapping a weekday for a weekend day and could be a benefit to the employer as well.
  3. Work from home. Some positions offer the option of being able to perform your duties from home, versus coming in to a work location. This could enable you to save the time and expense of commuting during the days you work from home.
  4. Home office stipend. Employers may provide a home office stipend to offset the costs of equipment, office supplies, and the Internet. Since this is expense reimbursement and not income, it is usually not taxable.
  5. Travel (or commute) allowance or stipend. Some employers are willing to offset routine work-related travel, and even subsidize part or all of a commute, with compensation in the form of a monthly reimbursement (again, usually not taxable). Some employers allow you to keep the frequent flyer mileage accruing from air travel, overnight stays, and car rentals, while some may allow you to travel business or first class instead of coach.
  6. Wardrobe allowance. In positions requiring uniforms or non-traditional attire (such as the fashion industry), employers may provide uniforms, clothing, or a wardrobe allowance to help offset your costs. Check with your tax preparer to see if this is taxable for you.
  7. Paid time off. In your particular life circumstances, your view of the optimal work-life balance could include additional paid time off. This could be in the form of additional vacation time, additional personal days, or other agreed-upon paid time off. If the employer has a favorite charity it supports, you might get paid time off for volunteering to work a day or days each year at that charity.
  8. Guaranteed first year bonus, commissions, or increase. This negotiated option can close the gap between what is offered and what you need to accept a variable compensation position whose total compensation is comprised of a base plus variable compensation.
  9. Accelerated compensation reviews and salary negotiations. This is another way to raise starting compensation more rapidly at the beginning of employment. For example, instead of having a compensation review once per year, negotiate three reviews during the first two years, after which you fall in line with the employer’s annual compensation review process.
  10. Trial period. Trial periods can offer you several compensation options. If the employer provides benefits following completion of a trial period, you might negotiate having coverage on Day 1. Or the employer paying some or all of your COBRA insurance premiums until you are eligible for the employer-provided coverage. Another option is to negotiate a pay increase, promotion, title change, or bonus following the successful completion of a trial period.
  11. Work space, furniture, and equipment. The last person in your position may have worked from a cubicle using an old PC and sharing a common printer. However, you may be able to negotiate for a larger workspace, better/newer equipment, better furniture, and even an office, should space be available and your duties warrant.
  12. Housing allowance. Some employers provide a housing subsidy in the form of rent-free or reduced-rent apartments or condos, while others provide a stipend to offset housing costs. This is more common in senior positions where an executive is unable to relocate and takes a small apartment close to the office and resides there during the work week.
  13. Relocation allowance. A relocation allowance may be offered when an employer desires you to temporarily or permanently relocate to a specific area. This can take many forms, from providing employer-paid professional packing/unpacking, moving, and storage services to the guaranteed sale of a residence or a cash bonus. There is a wide variety of what might be negotiated as part of a relocation.
  14. Education/Continuing education. Employers may provide a tuition-reimbursement benefit. This may partially or fully cover outside education required to maintain active certification (such as a nursing or CPA) or to enhance skills needed to perform a current assignment. You may be able to negotiate how soon you are eligible for this benefit, as well as the amount and timing available. Some employers will require the employee to serve an additional time period as an employee, or repay the benefit if leaving employment before the period is completed. Employers may be willing to help retire some or all of your outstanding student loan balances.
  15. Professional fees and conferences. Some professions have associations and other groups affiliated with the profession, so learn what the employer will partially or fully subsidize, such as annual membership fees and dues; meeting fees; club or association fees; conference fees (including associated travel costs); and publications.
  16. Reduced fees and discounts. For the employer’s products and services, if applicable.
  17. Health or sports club memberships. Employer fully or partially paid membership.
  18. Childcare allowance. Your employer may be willing to subsidize all or part of your childcare expense or may offer reduced rates for childcare at providers located at or near the company premises.
  19. Severance provision. You may be able to negotiate a severance provision that pays you a specified amount or rate in the event that your employment ends. This is typically applicable for separations that are not for-cause terminations, though the amount and circumstances of a severance provision can vary to include almost anything. Some examples are the payment of wages past the date of separation and the payment of certain insurances for a period of time following separation (such as healthcare).
  20. Vehicle allowance. Employers may subsidize part or all business-related travel, especially in field-based positions or where local travel is a regular part of the position’s essential duties. Employers may reimburse employee mileage, parking, and tolls for work-related travel; or provide a vehicle and company credit card; pay for a leased vehicle for company business; or pay a portion of a personal vehicle’s lease payment. A travel stipend or receiving a company credit card to pay for gas and repairs offer substantial savings to the employee. Consult a tax professional to understand the tax implications of receiving a vehicle allowance.
  21. Insurance. There are a number of opportunities for receiving additional value here. Employers may provide more employer-paid insurance options beyond the standard wellness coverage or be willing to pay for traditional elective coverages such as life insurance or AD&D insurance. Another approach is to provide better insurance coverage for the same fee of a lower coverage level. In the case of you having spousal insurance coverage, you may negotiate to receive compensation in lieu of taking the employer-provided insurance. Don’t forget to ask for any life and disability insurances to include a rider that ensures their transportability at the same low employer group rate should you leave.

Bottom Line

Negotiating compensation is not only about what your salary or hourly rate is – it’s about your total compensation. It will pay to make dollars and sense out of all your compensation options, and negotiate your best overall compensation.

Keep this list and refer to it often. And as you progress in your career, keep adding new areas of compensation that you find personally valuable.

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