If your company offered to pay for you to attend a nine-day art festival in the desert, would you do it?
You've made it through several rounds of interviews and impressed at each and every one — now you're in talks with the company to hammer out the details of a formal offer. It's time to talk numbers and negotiate your compensation package, which can take the form of a lot more than simply cash. Benefits such as vacation days, the quality of your health insurance, or equity in the company all also should be thought of as types of payment for your hard work.
Some companies take unique compensation to the next level, at times even allowing employees to expense trips to Burning Man, a multi-day festival and art experience in the desert.
“When heading to Burning Man, the nine-day bacchanal-cum-art installation in the Nevada desert, people tend to bring along their friends, lovers or drinking buddies. Others go with their coworkers — and they expense it … While many companies in the Bay Area resign themselves to lowered output and high levels of employee absence this time of year, a few others are encouraging their staff to hit the Playa, as regulars call the stretch of the desert where the 60,000-person event takes place. Sometimes, it's essentially mandatory.”
If you're the type of person for whom a constant party (with your co-workers, no less!) seems exciting and fun, this could seem like a dream come true; if you prefer routine and the comfort of your own bed, the idea of a mandatory trip to Burning Man under the guise of team bonding may cause you to recoil in horror.
Aside from being a potential HR nightmare, the business value gained by companies who pay for their employees to attend Burning Man seems dubious at best. It is a unique experience that will undoubtedly expand your worldview, and it's undeniable that the festival attracts more than its fair share of impressive and influential people you might get to rub shoulders with, especially within the technology and startup communities. Elon Musk (Tesla, SpaceX), Larry Page and Sergey Brin (Google), and Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) have all attended the festival and sung its praises.
Wild, weird, and wonderful work perks
Unique forms of compensation don't stop at free trips to Burning Man. In order to compete for talent, companies have devised all types of ways to stand out and offer eye-popping perks to their employees. Some noteworthy examples include:
Mid-Day Surf Breaks: At Patagonia, employees are encouraged to take an hour or two off to catch the perfect wave on the beach outside their Ventura, California headquarters.
Put Your Best Face Forward: Chesapeake Energy promotes the philosophy that when you look your best, you work your best, offering on-site Botox injections and tanning beds to employees.
Family Time, All the Time: Netflix offers unlimited parental leave and personal time off, so you don't have to feel pressured to come into the office when you're sick, your child has an early soccer game, or you're feeling burned out and need a mental health day.
Negotiate your own benefits
If you're interested in a role but the cash pay doesn't line up with your expectations, exploring alternative forms of compensation can be one way to bridge the gap.
Think about what types of perks would make a meaningful increase in your quality of life, big or small. Some examples of reasonable things to discuss with your manager during the hiring and negotiation process include:
Being able to go to the gym or an exercise class over lunch.
The ability to work from home regularly.
Increased vacation time, above and beyond standard company policy.
Personal development — a certification, part-time college class, or books/learning materials.
Always ask for what you want
Once you've entered the negotiation phase with a company, they've already made it clear they want you and only you — so you're only hurting yourself if you don't ask for what you want. In fact, a survey by ZipRecruiter found that 64 percent of respondents said they “accepted the first salary offer they received the last time they were hired,” meaning only 36 percent of professionals have negotiated their salary at all. We have tips available to you if you need advice on how to successfully negotiate, and if the idea still fills you with dread, you can always work with a professional coach to build your confidence.
Don't sell yourself short and be in the 64 percent of non-negotiators. Having your employer expense your trip to Burning Man is a unique edge case — definitely not the norm — but there are ways you can advocate for yourself and enjoy benefits beyond what might be initially offered to you.
Not confident negotiating the salary you deserve? Our TopInterview coaches can help you pick up the negotiation skills you need to get what you deserve.