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6 Alternatives to a Pay Increase

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These days, as food and gas prices reach all-time highs, you're not alone in wanting to approach your boss about a raise. However, considering the current state of the economy, you're also not alone in wondering if this is really the best time to bring up what could be a touchy subject.

Still, if you feel like the work you do is worth more than what you see on your paycheck, there are some other things you can request to help make your away-from-work life more comfortable in other ways. If your boss balks at your request for a salary increase, you may consider asking for some alternative benefits, such as:

A More Flexible Schedule

Many companies these days have been moving in this direction, and even some state and city governments are allowing their employees to work four 10-hour days with a three-day weekend. If you have children, or if you just value your down time, working a condensed week or telecommuting is a great way to improve your comfort and work-life balance -- an excellent alternative to an increased income.

Wellness Benefits
While many large companies these days have an onsite gym, even smaller companies and start-ups can benefit from encouraging employees to make healthy lifestyle choices. Well-exercised employees are more focused at work and able to achieve higher levels of productivity. If it's not the right time to ask for a raise, perhaps you can negotiate a gym membership or reimbursement for a personal trainer or weight-loss plan. Other wellness benefits include workplace yoga classes (increasingly available in many large cities), massage and Tai Chi. Many gyms may already be aware of what companies are willing to pay, so it couldn't hurt to talk to someone at your gym and see what they recommend before you approach your boss.

Additional Vacation
Maybe you can't wrangle a couple extra vacation weeks out of your company, but a few more days of vacation with your family can be invaluable. Whether you want an extra weekend day on that tropical getaway or, in the face of increased airfares, a longer "staycation" at home with your family and friends, knowing you can tack on an extra 48 hours of R&R can make the downtime even more relaxing. And, you can tell your boss, you will return to work that much more refreshed and renewed -- and ready to go heads-down on a new project.

Job Training Reimbursement
Few companies would shy away from the opportunity to encourage their employees to become more qualified in their fields. Staying abreast of the latest technologies, programs and certification processes benefits your boss as much as it does you. If she's not sure she can squeeze extra money out of the budget to pad your wallet, she may feel more inclined to reimburse you for classes that apply to your future within the company.

Professional/Trade Association Membership Reimbursement
It can behoove your company to encourage their employees to join professional associations related to their field. Not only is it a great way to stay ahead of ongoing trends and changes in the marketplace, but it's a great way to network with other professionals in your field and keep your company's name on the minds of association members. In the end, everyone benefits from this option.

An Additional Insurance Benefit
Employee benefits don't have to just include the standard health insurance option. Perhaps you can negotiate an additional benefit. We already mentioned wellness benefits, but what about other options like pet insurance? Especially for animals adopted from shelters, and for older animals, veterinarian bills can get steep when you least expect it. Everyone knows it's difficult to focus on work and be productive when you have a sick or injured animal at home. Perhaps you can convince your employer to help you head off those expenses by providing insurance for your furry friends.

Whether or not you decide to ask for a traditional raise, these simple requests are all great ways to make your time at work as valuable to you as it is to your boss. Asking higher-ups to help increase your work-life balance is an excellent alternative to an increased paycheck, especially in these times of economic uncertainty.
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