Salary vs. Benefits: Is the Higher Pay Worth More to You?

May 18, 2020 in Career and Job Search Tips



Congratulations! After searching for a job in the food and beverage industry for months, you’ve finally received an offer from a great company. The hard work has paid off! Have you weighed your salary vs. benefits options?

One of the first things you may be eager to learn is what your salary will be. After all, most people change jobs to either advance their food industry careers or increase their financial standing.

However, have you factored in the benefits? A benefits package can add to your bottom line in ways that might be invisible on the surface.

Looking for a new job? Review the new 2020 Kinsa Group Food and Beverage Industry Salary Guide to see what you might earn!

The Added Value of Benefits

As noted by Forbes, people who have to pay 100% out of pocket for insurance don’t have the luxury of securing a group rate like those who work for larger companies.

Employer-provided medical insurance can add between $5,000 to $30,000 to a base salary. Whether the food and beverage company you’re looking to work for pays all or part of your premium, keep in mind you’d have to earn nearly 50% more per hour to afford the same amount of coverage if you were self-employed.

Add in other health-related perks, like a Health Savings Account, or dental and vision coverage, and that could be thousands more in benefits added to your salary.

Banking on Your Future

Whether you’re just starting in the food and beverage industry, moving up through the ranks of management, or you’re at the peak of your career, it’s never too late (or early) to think about retirement.

It’s common for companies to offer a 401(k) plan, with many employers contributing if an employee sets aside a percentage of their paycheck. In some cases, it might take a few years for the employee to be fully vested, meaning if you transition to a new job before that time is met, the company’s contribution is diminished.

As Investopedia notes, employers that do not offer retirement plans might not be worth a second thought unless the salary allows you to fund your account adequately. Companies that provide a 401(k) and a separate investment option, or profit-sharing opportunity, give you the chance to invest in your retirement tax-free until the money is withdrawn. As of 2019, employees can contribute up to $19,000 per year to their retirement funds and not have to pay taxes on it – if your company contributes a portion to your fund, that can add up to a nice nest egg down the road.

Profit-sharing or employee stock options might not be available for brand new or inexperienced employees but may be a value that can be negotiated for in mid-level and senior positions. Managers and directors asking about equity in a company show an investment in their career success there.

2020 Kinsa Group Salary Guide: Review the salary range for your executive position to make sure you’re earning what you’re worth.

Negotiations Aren’t Just for Salary Offers

After receiving your initial salary offer, and reviewing the company’s benefits plan, consider your options. Hopefully, you have taken time in advance to research what others in your position are making based on the 2020 Kinsa Group Salary Guide. It contains information gleaned from two years’ worth of interviews with 3,000+ candidates at all levels of work experience and expertise to provide an extensive view of salary ranges in the food and beverage industry.

Hiring managers expect candidates to have questions about their salary and benefits packages. But not all candidates know they can negotiate. Here are some tips on how to do that:

1) Take time to consider the offer before asking questions.

Ask for a day to review the cost of health care and other medical and disability benefits the employer has offered you. Look into what the retirement savings plan offered by the company will mean to your savings. Ensure you understand what your salary and benefits package includes, what’s covered, and what would be lost if specific longevity-based markers are not met.

2) Prepare questions.

If you’re working in a food or beverage manufacturing plant, ask whether you’re eligible for overtime or bonuses for working holidays or extra hours. Candidates should inquire about personal incentives for contributions towards company growth or innovation. Senior and manager-level candidates should ask about equity options, bonus and investment opportunities commensurate with both skill level and experience.  See if there are referral bonuses for bringing in other new hires.

3) Work for a win-win deal.

If the pay is on par with what is expected, perhaps more paid time off is an option. If the salary is lower, see if there’s room for growth, or if new hires are eligible for a pro-rated bonus or pay increase after 60 or 90 days. Companies expect these types of inquiries and may work to accommodate you. Whenever possible, have these conversations by phone or in-person rather than email, where tone and intent can be misread.

A Job Offer is Just the Starting Point

Don’t be afraid to negotiate for the pay and benefits you desire. Be sure to take them both into consideration before signing an offer. Utilize the 2020 Kinsa Group Food and Beverage Industry Salary Guide to get a sense of what other candidates in your position are earning. You’ll be starting off the negotiation from a place of strength with solid knowledge.

Kinsa Group has been a food industry partner for 35 years and has an extensive list of food and beverage industry positions – from ground-floor professional to the executive level, with highlighted jobs in the spotlight each week.  Kinsa’s recruiters will tell you what compensation and benefits you can expect from our client employers for each role we recruit for. Contact Kinsa Group today to start on the path to your future.