Negotiating improved benefits in these days of rampant layoffs can be a tricky maneuver, as many people are simply happy to have jobs and are striving to keep them, without asking for more from their employers. As a project manager, however, you are in a unique position in that you’re not advocating for yourself, but rather for your team. This in a sense insulates you from censure, as a “no” decision will not impact you directly.
What’s the best way to go about asking for increased benefits for your team? It’s important, of course, to be methodical about your approach. This means that you need to have a straightforward business case as to why this makes sense. Simply saying to the higher-ups that your team should get an increase in benefits “because they deserve it” just won’t cut it. What has your team been doing that’s improved the company’s bottom line? What’s the ROI of your team? How much in additional sales or revenue or profitability are they generating?
It can be difficult to quantify such things in some cases, but then there are also qualitative measures as well. How have they improved customer satisfaction levels? These are the types of questions that you should think about using when framing the request on behalf of your team. Underlying all of the thinking behind this should be the knowledge that a company that wants you will pay for you – and this goes for your team as well.
Speaking of pay, the company may be reluctant to increase salaries for your team, so it’s important to look at what else might be on the table. Certainly, improved healthcare benefits for the workers or their families should be investigated. Is there a 401K or other type of retirement or savings plan that can be implemented if it hasn’t already been? How about continuing education? In some instances you might have to get creative in coming up with ways that your team can be recognized in such a way that will improve their morale and make them feel appreciated.
You can then do some benchmarking, to see how other companies are rewarding their highest producing teams. Even in this stubbornly poor economy, companies don’t want to lose their best workers, so this is something to keep top of mind when negotiating on behalf of your team.
In the end, the only harm is in not trying to work out a better deal, so it pays in this case to be bold and speak out on behalf of your team, as they’re unlikely to do so for themselves.