One fundamental concept of negotiation is the idea of "enlarging the pie." The "pie" refers to what competing negotiators fight over. Enlarging the pie means to find something the other side can offer you and bringing that into negotiations (for more, read How Negotiation Works). One might assume that in salary negotiations, parties only fight over money. This would be a mistake, because employers can give their employees more than just money. They can offer perks, flexible working hours and, perhaps most important, vacation time.
Vacation is incredibly important to employees. Because stress at work can contribute to high blood pressure, coronary artery disease and even depression, psychologists maintain that vacation time is an essential way to relieve stress [source: Sears]. Interestingly, work hours have gradually increased and vacation days have gradually decreased in the United States compared to other countries. While U.S. workers will take about 2 weeks vacation per year, European workers can take 3 to 6 weeks [source: Sears].
Although it's a form of compensation, paid vacation time might be easier for a company to offer than a raise in salary. Don't be afraid of looking like a slacker for asking for more vacation. As long as you show that you're a hard worker, you'll deserve that much-needed time off, especially considering the health risks of work stress the importance of a good work/life balance.
When negotiating vacation, it's wise to show flexibility. For instance, you can agree to not take all the vacation at once.
Many companies have also adopted flextime, which is simply a policy of flexible working hours. This could be an official company policy that you could take advantage of, or if not, it can be an informal agreement that you can negotiate. Parents and those with family responsibilities especially like to take advantage of flextime hours.
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- Sears, Richard W., et al. "Consultation Skills for Mental Health Professionals." John Wiley and Sons, 2005. (Aug. 12, 2010)http://books.google.com/books?id=TJs4IYQY3K4C
- Weiss, Tara. "How to Negotiate for a Better Salary, Even Now." Forbes. June 23, 2009. (Aug. 12, 2010)http://www.forbes.com/2009/06/23/jobs-salary-negotiating-leadership-careers-basics.html