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When approaching the negotiation process, do your research and prepare your answers in advance.SDI Productions/Getty Images

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Ask Women and Work

Question: I will soon be having a performance review with my employer. I’m quite sure it will be a positive review, but I would prefer more holiday time to getting a raise. I know that’s not typical at my workplace though. What’s the best way to approach my boss about this?

We asked Halifax-based career and leadership coach Shelly Elsliger to tackle this one:

It is no longer uncommon for employees to request a more flexible work schedule, professional development opportunities, personal days or increased vacation days. Compensation can be direct, in the form of salary, or indirect, in the form of non-monetary options.

It is always a good idea to reflect on what you need for an optimal work-life balance. You have determined that more vacation time would be preferable to a raise. The question is, why? The most important things to remember when it comes to salary negotiation are: 1) You must effectively articulate your ‘why,’ and 2) You should demonstrate flexibility when it comes to the ask.

When approaching the negotiation process, do your research and prepare your answers in advance. Make sure you know what the monetary value of time off would look like. Preparation helps hone your delivery so you are more confident as a negotiator and you have a compelling argument for more vacation time instead of the usual pay raise.

Salary negotiation should not be thought of as confrontational. You have earned this and your employer recognizes it. It may feel uncomfortable, but remember, this is a discussion and a chance for you to put your own unique situation into perspective for your employer. It is all about taking a two-way approach to negotiation.

Allow your employer to start the conversation. Once the performance review is over and both sides are feeling a high after discussing a job well done, you can guide the conversation in a new direction. You could start by showing your appreciation for the recognition and the opportunity. Then, you could ask, ‘Is there any flexibility in how my raise is offered?’ By phrasing it like this, you are not making any assumptions and indicating that the negotiation process is two-sided. If your question is well-received, you can tell your employer that instead of a monetary increase, you would greatly appreciate having an extra week off to devote to family or personal time. Articulate why more vacation will benefit you and your organization.

Then, you could suggest the best time for you to take those extra days. For example, if September is a peak time for business, avoid asking for additional time off during that period. Look for times that won’t negatively impact the company if you are away from your duties. For example, you could say, ‘I thought that I could take an extra week off in early January since it is our slow time and we also have an intern to help.’ This will show that you are thinking about what’s best for the company as well as your own preferences.

Salary negotiation is a normal process and an important one to consider for health, wellness and overall job fulfillment. Negotiation success relies heavily on your approach. Believe that anything is possible, but you have to ask for it first.

Submit your own questions to Ask Women and Work by e-mailing us at

This week’s must-read stories on women and work

When it comes to leadership, empathy isn’t enough

“For years, I believed that one of the most important skills for a leader, or any worker really, was empathy,” says Merge Gupta-Sunderji, CEO of leadership development consultancy Turning Managers Into Leaders. “But that is no longer true. Now, I believe it to be compassion.

“Which begs the question, what’s the difference? The answer is better understood by examining three words – sympathy, empathy and compassion.

“Sympathy is cognitive; it is equivalent to ‘I understand your problem.’ It is when you feel sorry for the person who has experienced a hardship. It usually translates into pity, and while it may be an admirable emotion, it does nothing for the individual who is in physical or emotional discomfort.

“Empathy is emotional. It is equivalent to ‘I feel what you feel.’ It goes further than sympathy in that you deliberately try to put yourself in the other person’s position. When you can understand and acknowledge the distress being felt by the other person, it can be helpful to them.”

Read more about how leaders can go beyond empathy and foster a more compassionate workplace.

Let’s call ‘lazy girl jobs’ what they are – jobs with boundaries where they’re desperately needed

“In 2021, after submitting an early master’s degree assignment, my writing mentor pushed back over a word choice I used to describe some erstwhile co-workers,” says Rob Csernyik, contributing columnist for The Globe and Mail. “Lazy, he wrote to me, was ‘mean and counterproductive.’ He said if he overheard me call a fellow employee lazy, whether as a co-worker or a customer, he would take me to task. When I think back to the spirited debate that followed, I wish we’d had a crystal ball. Two years later, workers (not limited by gender) proudly self-identify as having ‘lazy girl jobs.’

“The term, which originates from a TikTok content creator, denotes a job which, though well-paid (a US$60,000 to US$80,000 ideal salary is frequently cited), is not particularly strenuous and offers a high degree of work-life balance.

“A lazy girl job is not lazy in the classical sense, but in contrast to its odd couple roommate – the hustling ‘girl boss’ archetype of the 2010s – a lazy girl might work a nine-to-five office manager gig at a small company where she can pad her lunch breaks, while a girl boss puts in 80 hours weekly launching a startup or ascending the executive track at a major corporation.”

Read about why in this context, being “lazy” might actually mean cutting back on work, setting boundaries and saying no sometimes.

What leaders can learn from pop icon Céline Dion

The queen of the heart-melting power ballad has five Grammys and enough hits to qualify her as one of the most successful recording artists in history. Since attaining nearly instant stardom at the age of 14, the now 55-year-old has sold more than 220 million records, and Forbes pegs her net worth at US$480 million.

Read writer Dawn Calleja’s take on what Celine Dion can teach us about leadership, from this month’s Report on Business magazine.

In case you missed it

Leadership programs for women – what really works

Over the past decade, leadership programs focused on women have become more common in large Canadian organizations. While these programs may not have spawned major changes in corporate Canada’s gender diversity numbers – only 6.6 per cent of Canada’s largest publicly traded companies had a woman CEO in 2023, up just one per cent from 2020 – they have facilitated development opportunities for the thousands of women who have participated in these programs.

But what really makes a difference for women in these kinds of programs? What are the activities and sessions that women have found most useful in pursuing their career ambitions? The Globe Women’s Collective spoke with representatives from four leadership programs to find commonalities in what really moves the needle.

Read the full article.

From the archives

In the operating room and the hospital boardroom, women surgeons aren’t treated equally

When Dr. Fahima Dossa decided to become an oncology surgeon, one of her mentors in medical school said to her, “I hope you know that means you’ll be treating breast cancer.”

At the time, Dr. Dossa took the comment as practical advice. Most surgeons rely on referrals, so she might as well be prepared. But after pausing her general surgery residency at the University of Toronto to do a PhD, she began looking at gender bias in her field. As Dr. Dossa compared the earnings of men and women surgeons – and talked to others about their experiences – she started to feel differently about that comment.

“We pride ourselves on the idea that the proportion of women in medicine and in surgery is increasing,” says Dr. Dossa, who’s now in her final year of residency, which she will follow up with a fellowship in surgical oncology. “But what we fail to recognize is that we still have occupational segregation in medicine.”

Read the full article.

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The Globe and Mail

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