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How Skilled Professionals Can Negotiate a Shift Differential

The key is understanding how your company works and the approach to the negotiation. Here is an excellent guide to negotiating your shift differential.
October 13, 2020

As many manufacturing skilled professionals already know, better pay is often rewarded for working the industry’s most unwanted shifts. These may be early morning or late night shifts that many skilled workers try to avoid.


The pay increases that come with these shifts are called shift differentials. And they can make a significant difference when you have the willingness to work these grueling hours. 


Although you may not think it, these shift differentials are negotiable.


The key is understanding how your company works and the approach to the negotiation. Here is an excellent guide to negotiating your shift differential.

Learn How It Works

Every organization has a different way they do things. If you are working for a mid-sized manufacturing company, it is likely they already have a formula that they are using to find the pay per shift. Some organizations will pay this shift differential rate for Paid Time Off (PTO), sick days, and holidays. In contrast, others may bump you back to the standard rate for these. Keep this in mind as a potential negotiation piece.


Understand the Market Rate

Before you go any further, you need to do some research. It would help if you found out the going rate for your position and shift differential. These rates can vary significantly depending on the job, company size, location, and many other factors. 


Calculate Your Rate

Before you begin the process of negotiating, you need to understand the rate you deserve. 


Based on research, that is.


Make sure to get creative with this. Don’t be afraid to factor in expenses that come along with working the second and third shifts. This could be something like babysitting expense.


One of the biggest mistakes we see is that skilled workers will calculate a lower rate than they should. Remember that you will be entering into a negotiation, which means that there needs to be room for give and take.


We always suggest that you pull your rate from the top 75% of the average. Although you may not be as experienced, it makes sure that you will have some wiggle room during the negotiation.

Don’t forget to account for potential risks within your role. This can include hazardous materials, operating large and dangerous machinery. There are also family risks as well as it relates to not being home with your family.


Don’t be afraid to mention that your family is essential to you. It builds empathy during a negotiation.


Be Forward

Don’t beat around the bush here. Start the negotiation by asking for the desired rate. Many are afraid to ask for what they want - thinking it will never happen. If you come in prepared with research, it is much easier to negotiate and have data behind it.


There is little downside to researching your worth, but the upside is significant compared to just accepting what they offer right off the bat. 


Be Persistent

Do not, I repeat, do not accept the first offer. Be persistent and stick with the rate you have identified. This is when you can bring up some of the specific data you have found. 


Don’t be afraid to mention the work you have done for the organization if you are already an employee. Prove to them that you are worth the investment. 


Remember that this is a negotiation, and it may take some back and forth. Don’t be too dead set on that rate.


Often the person you are talking to has only been approved for a specific rate and may need to go back to their manager. Please encourage them to.



Get Creative

I quickly mentioned this at the beginning of this article, but it is always fun to get creative. 


If your current differential rate does not apply to your PTO, holiday, or sick leave, this is a great thing to negotiate.


This creative approach can often catch the company by surprise and get them to agree at the moment. 


Creative approaches are always a last resort if you don’t get the rate you are looking for.


Get It in Writing

Before the negotiation is over, you should get the rate agreement in writing. Even if it only is in an email, a written agreement protects both parties if the differential is ever challenged in the future.