You might short-change your future if you only focus on pay and standard benefits when you renegotiate your current contract for employment or negotiate one with a potential new employer.
When negotiating a contract for employment, the employer will have many boilerplate clauses regarding your terms of employment. It’s normal to see termination clauses, confidentiality restrictions, intellectual property assignments, restrictions on future employment, and restrictions on working for others during your employment. Besides pay, there are two other key areas you can focus on to best represent your interests.
Contract for Employment and Your Career
What outcomes do you want for your career? If it’s too remote to consider the rest of your working life, try focusing on the next five years. Do you want to stay on the same track, within the same job description? Or do you want to assume a new role eventually?
Construction’s command-and-control job environment means it is easy to get stuck on a rung in the corporate ladder. If you are interested in moving into positions with more or different responsibilities, then the company’s politics might work against you.
When considering whether to accept a new contract for employment with your current employer, you already know whether the company’s promotion talk matches its walk. This is where you can negotiate for reasonable assurances that you can advance on the path you desire. Making talks about promotions integral to negotiations with potential employers puts your goals upfront and puts employers on record as understanding your goals.
Part of these conversations should include answers to your questions regarding the skills training you will need to reach your career goals. Does the contract offer a career progression track and support it with employee reviews and training?
If you are interested in moving to another career within construction, for instance, from a superintendent into estimating, you should focus some of your discussions on that. Is the employer supportive of allowing this change? Would you get any help with training? Most important, discuss the ‘when.’ Employers might make vague promises during the contract for employment negotiations, but without some form of commitment, you might never reach your goal with them.
Contract for Employment and Your Life
Many people don’t achieve their career goals because they never get their lives in sync with their work. If you are a person who only has a passion for work, then long days and disrupted nights might not be a hurdle when considering a job with an employer who expects that type of commitment.
However, if you have a passion for the work but also have other interests and responsibilities, you need an employer who has work policies supporting those other aspects of your life.
A construction contract for employment often includes far more responsibilities than one person can realistically handle. Employers want flexibility in assignments, and the blind acceptance of these contracts has made them standard fare over the decades. So, while these negotiations are tough, you might consider them necessary, depending on your needs for the non-work part of your life.
Do the hours discussed match the work you’re asked to do? Do the requirements leave you enough time for your non-work responsibilities? Consider the flexibility a contract for employment allows in working hours and work locations.
If you have an administrative role, you might consider a contract with provisions for working out of the office. Negotiating these aspects of a contract for employment produces better contracts by making them more responsive to both parties’ needs.
A Range of À la carte Benefits
Besides the standard employment benefits, you might also negotiate to include others. If you have business activities aside from your full-time job, discuss options for continuing those.
Keep your options open for starting your own business in construction. Non-compete clauses can restrict that, but you might negotiate wording changes to keep your options open while protecting the employer. These clauses can also restrict you from working in construction for years after leaving the employer. Make sure you don’t get completely locked out of your career path.
Suppose you are negotiating for a position directly linked to profitability, like a project manager or superintendent. In that case, part of your reward for finishing up projects on or under budget might include bonuses. Negotiations on the bonus percentage and how it’s calculated can help you and the employer overcome your differences in other parts of the contract for employment.
Finally, employment contracts constantly evolve. Just because a clause isn’t common, it doesn’t mean it’s off the table. These days, employers are paying more attention to benefits, especially in the age of COVID. According to reporting in Employee Benefits News, employers have been increasing employee benefits to include childcare enhancements, stipends for home offices, and telemedicine.