When it comes to salary, how do I manage a counteroffer? Ask HR

Johnny C. Taylor Jr.

Countering a job offer multiple times may not be the best approach.

Johnny C. Taylor Jr. Tackles your human resources questions as part of a series for USA TODAY. Taylor is president and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management, the world’s largest HR professional society and author of “Reset: A Leader’s Guide to Work in an Age of Upheaval.”.

The questions are submitted by readers, and Taylor’s answers below have been edited for length and clarity.

Have a question? Do you have an HR or work-related question you’d like me to answer? Submit it here.

Question: I always feel like I accept less than I should when considering job offers. When it comes to salary negotiation, how much back and forth should there be between me and a prospective employer? Can I counter multiple times? – Michele.

Johnny C. Taylor Jr.: With so many transitioning jobs right now, this is certainly a timely question. How much back and forth there will be depends on multiple factors since every situation is different. Countering a job offer multiple times may not be the best approach. Instead, prepare your salary expectations based on the value of your skillset and experience in the current market. Don’t drag on the salary negotiation too long. Depending on the situation, two times is the most I would recommend.

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The timing of job hunting is key when considering negotiations. It is an employee’s job market. In other words, the negotiation leverage is in your favor, especially if you currently have job offers. Rather than preparing to go back and forth with a prospective employer, do your homework first. Research common salary ranges for the position and compare them to your education, experience, and skillset. If the prospective employer offers you a salary lower than what you expected, share your research and your desired salary range. In addition to what an employer already knows based on your resume, give real examples of how you will add value to their organization.

Also, many people focus on base salary and underestimate the value of total compensation. For instance, you may be able to take a lower salary than desired because they are paying a large portion of your health care or giving you a high number of vacation days a year. Closely examine the details of the benefits package to access its true value to you. Consider negotiating or asking about other benefits available. This could include higher education benefits, student loan repayment programs, child care assistance, company paid leave, or transportation reimbursement.

If the hiring manager or human resources is firm, and they cannot pay a higher salary or provide better benefits, respect it and don’t keep going back and forth. Ask yourself why you want or need the job. Look beyond the base salary, and consider all other factors including benefits, the work environment, commute, company culture and potential for promotion. You may find that all of these other factors outweigh the bigger paycheck.

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I hope this helps!

Salary ranges:How do I address discrepancies? Ask HR.

Not what I expected:What if my job does not match its description? Ask HR.

Q: I work in a nonunion warehouse. Our supervisors have frequently denied, or delayed restroom break requests outside of our scheduled break times. Is this legal? – Lee.

Taylor: In short, no. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration sets the regulations for employers in this area. According to current OSHA standards, employers are not permitted to impose unreasonable restrictions on restroom use.

Limiting restroom use to scheduled break times might seem reasonable on its face, however; it is a best practice to allow employees to use the restroom as needed. Employers subject to OSHA regulations are required to allow employees prompt access to bathroom facilities and cannot cause extended delays. In addition, some employees may have a disability protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act which may require extended or more frequent breaks as a reasonable accommodation. Physical, physiological, and environmental factors might cause an employee to require a restroom break outside of scheduled break times.

If you feel comfortable, speak with your supervisor directly about your concerns. Your supervisor may be limiting restroom breaks so the workflow of the warehouse is not disrupted. If this is the case, suggest they implement a relief system where an employee signals for a temporary replacement whenever they need to take a break. By implementing a relief system employees can take restroom breaks as needed and the workflow is maintained.

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If you would prefer, address your concerns with Human Resources and let them handle it. And remember, if you feel like your employer is not following OSHA standards, you always have the option of filing a complaint directly with OSHA.

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