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"The most critical thing in a negotiation is to get inside your opponent's head and figure out what he really wants."- Jacob Lew
The quote above summarizes the entire strategy that consultants adopt. Since they stand between employers and prospective employees, they assess what both want and tactfully negotiate employment benefits. The process is essential for both clients and consultants since there is a long-term impact on the decision. While some consultants are negotiation experts, some need to know the tricks of an effective leadership negotiation process. The article below provides five essential techniques that consultants can use to negotiate employee benefits effectively.
The term "evaluate" implies everything within the process, from the employer's priorities to an employee to the market demand and role. Once you understand the priorities of each party and lay out their several requirements, you can come up with an effective solution.
For example, an employer might be interested in offering mediclaim benefits, stock benefits and other allowance, whereas the employee might ask for a flexible benefit. As a consultant, you have to map the demands with the job role and the current situation to enable acceptance of the right benefit. The current situation favors the work-life benefit more than the other employee benefits; when you assess and represent that to the employer, they can tweak some of their benefit programs.
Assess what you can give to get a better deal. Sometimes you need to dodge a bullet to get the best from a situation. So to negotiate employee benefits effectively, you must create value within the structure. Compare with similar industries what is working and how efficient they are. What benefits are causing employee retention in other industries, and what factors could pull in prospective employees quickly?
For example, the importance of work-from-home has been recently realized wherein some employers have set the bar by allowing it permanently. In contrast, some have left it to the employee's discretion. As a negotiator, you must understand the value such benefits bring to both parties and negotiate employment benefits.
The consultant must magnify their focus on the happiness of both parties in the long run. They should negotiate with the employers when employees ask for benefits that could seem unreasonable now but could retain them in the long term.
For example, from paid leave programs and education allowance to flexible benefits and incentives, etc., all policies must be revisited to cater to the employer and employee in the longer run.
Consultants good at their jobs come prepared with their options during negotiations. You must set your expectations early with the employer and see if they are on the same page. Conduct a good deal of ground research and come up with the right questions. Do you have a better alternative? Speak about it to not create any confusion later. With this approach, there won't be scope for breach of trust.
If you have clients from different countries, understand the cultural differences before negotiation. While some firms are ready to give feedback at every step, some do not. You can capitalize and practically create a better work standard by knowing the cultural differences of your firm.
It is not necessary that you land this deal because you have shared your best ideas and interests in the working of the organization. Some clients may choose to reject your policies. Always take time to reflect if that happens. Move forward with the learning to improve upon future negotiations.
Always have your team run by you whenever you implement policies within the negotiation or see a change in the deal from the employer's side. In this way, you do not deviate from your firm's and team goals and deliver to your client exemplary service.
Depending on the industry you negotiate with, if you have a great logic behind your great pricing, do not lower your stance. The idea is to know your worth and justify it. The market has many players, but the one that knows how to get a deal creatively wins over.
One of the crucial steps in negotiating employee benefits is to work around shared interests. So with immense preparation, you should suggest a deal that helps all the parties get what they seek. There could be discussions from the client's side over the policies. Take them in stride and without treating it to be a conflict, assess the clients' points and focus on a win-win aspect. After all, clients assess your reputation from your relationship with the oldest clients.
Negotiation is not just a strategy but also a mandatory skill that depicts the brilliance of the confident negotiator while adhering to the formal laws. Hence always be truthful in your approach to your clients. You may win over a false negotiation now, but you can never retain clients because they will ultimately know. Learn to work with good faith when you negotiate. Your reputation is everything in the process of negotiation.
While negotiating employee benefits aims to resolve issues between the parties, the bigger goal is to conduct business wisely and cultivate relationships. Knowing how much to give and asking for what you want is crucial in this process. So, how do you rate yourself in your negotiation skills as a consultant? Do you have what it takes to thrive in this competition?
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