1. We’re not your friend. The Human Resources department is presented like an employee concierge service, but be careful, says former HR executive Cynthia Shapiro. In recent years, most HR departments have morphed into legal protection arms of the company. “If you disclose anything to HR that could potentially cause the company inconvenience or money, they are required to take action against you,” she says.
2. Your performance review is your secret weapon. Don’t avoid performance reviews: insist on them. Rusty Rueff of employment website Glassdoor.com says performance reviews are your ammunition when negotiating a raise, more vacation time or a promotion. It’s hard to deny reasonable demands when the proof that you deliver results is right there in black and white. If your repeated requests for a review go unanswered, write your own assessment and ask your boss to sign off on it. If your boss isn’t willing to do it, go to HR.
3. You aren’t necessarily getting a good deal on insurance. Employees at big companies typically get group insurance, but don’t assume your employer has secured the best rate for you. While you’ll have to stick with any mandatory coverage, be sure to shop around for additional coverage and see if you can get a better rate elsewhere.
4. We give away free money. Many companies offer pension plans or will top up your RRSP, but the onus is on the employee to join. As long as your company is contributing some money, these programs will boost your overall compensation, so be sure to sign up.
5. You can negotiate a termination package. If you suspect your company is preparing for a round of layoffs and you’re ready to leave on your own terms, consider stepping forward. Chances are you’ll get a fatter compensation package if you do. But first, make sure your intelligence is correct. “You’ve tagged yourself and they won’t forget that,” says Rueff.