Money Isn’t Everything

In a recent post, I noted that sometimes people cut back-office deals that add value but not salary to their compensation. I thought I’d revisit the topic of nonsalary perks.

Because salaries are taxable, I’ve known of faculty members who constantly were on the lookout for ways to trade perks for raises. In my travels and conversations with other administrators, I’ve heard of one guy who said that if he could move to a nicer office, he’d bypass a raise for a couple of years. I hear frequently of faculty members who have traded several years’ worth of raises for decreased teaching loads or even research assistants. In the early days of the World Wide Web, I knew of a faculty member who talked his college into paying for Internet at his house rather than providing him a raise.

Sometimes collective-bargaining authorities get in on this, adding benefits in lieu of some portions of raises, including wellness memberships or insurance enhancements. Of course, I’ve also heard financial experts declare the shortsightedness of such deals, especially where retirement contributions were tied to salary levels.

Then again, some people are not interested in bypassing salary; they just want enhancements and are good at bargaining. If there is one weakness most academicians have, it is in the area of negotiating. I never cease to be amazed by how many friends I’ve had who never asked about salary or benefits when they were being hired.

What kinds of nonsalary deals have you heard of being made behind the scenes? If you could leverage such a deal, what would you try to get as an add-on?

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