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Should you stay or should you go?

Either way, here’s how to maximize your benefits

Jeffrey Marino,

After 10 years of lackluster growth, wages finally broke the 3 percent ceiling in August 2018 and have done so every month since. With workers quitting to pursue better opportunities, employers have finally had to offer raises to remain competitive.

In fact, nearly 50 percent of employers have made a counteroffer of significantly higher pay to keep an employee on staff, according to the results of a recent ZipRecruiter survey. But even the most generous of offers may not be enough to stop top talent from searching for a better opportunity.

Employees demand more

Not all employees are interested in using a new job offer to negotiate with their employer: Only 18 percent of the 3,000-plus job seekers we surveyed in February said they’ve used an offer as leverage to get a raise in the past.

About 38 percent said they would consider a counteroffer to stay at their current job if they had plans to pursue a new opportunity. When asked how much of a raise they would need to be persuaded to stay, the job seekers we surveyed said an average 33 percent increase.

According to our survey, this is way off the mark of what most employers are offering. Among those who have offered an employee higher pay to stay, the average increase on the table was 10 percent — far above the typical bump of 2.5 to 5 percent, but still nowhere near what it would take to win over most employees.

Better pay isn’t the only way

People don’t quit just for a bigger paycheck. In some cases the lure of better benefits is too strong to resist, and employers have clearly responded: The number of jobs posted to ZipRecruiter mentioning healthcare or retirement benefits increased 70 percent in January 2019 year over year.

But our survey suggests employers have yet to pump up benefits packages enough to keep existing employees. While 52 percent of the employers we surveyed said they offered higher pay as an incentive to keep their best workers from jumping ship, 1.4 percent said they offered a better benefits package.

Forty-seven percent of the job seekers we surveyed said they would consider accepting a counteroffer that included better benefits rather than a higher salary.

Know your power

In a survey of more than 50,000 job seekers conducted by ZipRecruiter last year, we learned that many are unhappy with their pay, yet most (64 percent) said they did not negotiate for a higher wage when they were offered the job. And only 40 percent of respondents said they had received a raise in their current or most recent job.

This take-it-or-leave-it attitude toward salary negotiation suggests employees are more likely to search for a new job that offers the pay and benefits they need than they are to ask for more money from their current employer.

There’s a lesson here for job seekers and employers alike. Job seekers don’t need to quit their current job to get the compensation they deserve. If you like where you work and you’re only looking for a new job to improve your financial situation, it’s worth it to give your employer the chance to keep you. However, it’s clear from both the results of this survey and the prevailing job market trends of the day, that employers need to be more proactive about retaining their top talent.