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Unexpected Negotiation Tip: Negotiate for LESS – 3 Items to Negotiate

Negotiate for LESS! It’s the new ‘negotiate for more’. Yes, you read that right. This year we’re negotiating for less. Trust me on this one. We want less. We want to negotiate for less. I mean it. I’ll explain. 

We want LESS of the bad, more of the good. So in essence, we want both. Can we have it both? Yes we can. And we will. 

negotiating for less is the new negotiating for more

Some Reasons to Negotiate for Less

There are so many reasons to negotiate for less. Let’s talk about productivity and profits for starters. Workforce productivity along with corporate profits are sky high… so what gives? Why are we still working the same days & hours that were set up nearly a century ago (Ward & Lebowitz, Business Insider, 2022)?

The jury is out, according to the Commerce Department, even when the economy is tight for everyday people, companies just pass those costs along while us commoners pay the price. Meanwhile, in 2021-2022 “corporate profits spiked” (Gibson, CBS, 2022). They (companies) aren’t hurting a bit. So why are we? 

This is precisely why we need to negotiate for less.

Corporate Profits Highest in 70 Years

You read that right. Highest in 70 years!

“U.S. companies just had their best year since before most of us were born.”

Kate Gibson, CBS, 2022

Uhh.. I think we’re getting played, people. This year, “Corporate profits are their highest in 70 years” (Reich, The Guardian, 2022). Uhh… did anyone else spend $1 million in groceries this year…??? What. The hell.

“Real wages systematically undershot productivity growth for most of the last two decades, and the labor share of income fell notably as a consequence. Corporate profit margins were the prime beneficiaries of the falling labor share,” (via Morgan Stanley analysts, Gibson, CBS, 2022). Corporations and those at the top of them are benefiting. This is a surprise to… no one. 

The Story of the American Economy for Decades

Can I say it in another way? “Steeply rising profits, economic growth and stock market highs – coupled with near-stagnant wages – has been the story of the American economy for decades. Most economic gains have gone to the top” (Reich, The Guardian, 2022).

Yes, this has been a story as old as time in the United States.  

We are getting short-changed not only in our pockets, but in our time

They Can, They Just Won’t

The thing is, companies can afford to give you that raise. They can afford to give you time off. They can afford to hire someone else to reduce your responsibilities. And they can afford to give you paid maternity leave. They can, they can, they can. 

It’s not that they can’t. It’s that they won’t. Can’t and won’t are two very different things. And companies have not been willing to share their profits for quite some time. And the facts back it up. 

So we’re here to demand them. 

We are in a worker’s market

“People are taking a stand. Workers are saying no. We are in the age of the employee. Let it have profound change and lasting impacts. After all, it’s quite overdue.” – Read more.

So let’s jump in. Negotiate for less. 

Let’s turn this into the new norm. 

Negotiate for Less: 3 Items

negotiate for less 3 items

Negotiate for Less Item #1: Fewer Work Days in the Week

To negotiate for less in the form of fewer days in the work week typically means you work 4 out of 5 days of the week instead of the typical 5 days. This could mean Monday-Thursday, Tuesday-Friday or maybe Wednesdays off. It varies, usually depending on what works best for the individual and/or company.

Previously a Monetary Conflict – Now It’s Not

Previously, people have successfully negotiated shorter work weeks when compensation expectations could not be met. One example of this is with Joe Sanok, who wrote the book Thursday is the New Friday (2021). He talks about his experience of being “more expensive” than what the company could pay, so successfully negotiated 4 instead of 5 work days during the week (“How to Make Thursday the New Friday” -The One Thing Podcast, 2021). 

We are now in the stage where it doesn’t have to be a monetary conflict. The economic stats (see above) that state companies benefit and workers are consistently underpaid is reason enough. We can negotiate for less (days) while still receiving the same (or more) pay. 

Same pay, less days. 
Let’s not do it any other way.

4 Day Work Weeks Not New

It also may not be as new as we think it is. Sources show that 4 day work weeks have tripled in recent years (Bartel, Forbes, 2021). It’s a worker’s market and workers want more leisure time. It’s almost a no-brainer. 

It’s especially a no-brainer when productivity increases because of it.

When Microsoft Japan switched to a three-day weekend, the company experienced productivity gains of 40%. The Society for Human Resource Management reports that 60% of organizations that utilize a four-day workweek also experienced higher productivity and increased employee satisfaction.

Jeffrey Bartel, FORBES, 2021

Benefits from 4 Day Work Weeks

From the Forbes article, the following benefits (as researched) include:

  • Worker productivity rises
  • Employee satisfaction rises
  • Fewer employee sick days taken
  • Reduces overhead costs
  • Work-life balance improves

*This is all when paired with the SAME salary (NOT less). 

Um…. What are we waiting for?? It’s a win-win. Corporations get to keep their productivity & we get the same pay (I think this is also a cue to ask for MORE of those corporate profits, especially as worker productivity actually increases in 4 day work weeks).

Negotiate for less while negotiating for more.

Working 5 Days Per Week Is Outdated

It doesn’t make sense to still be working 5 out of 7 days of the week. Productivity along with company profits have shown that 5 work days is excessive. 4 MAX. 

A 5 day work week is outdated. The 5 day work week was instituted in 1926 by Ford Motor Companies (Ward & Lebowitz, Business Insider, 2022). It’s about time we ‘circle back’ to the 5 day work week Ford so kindly instituted at the time when a 7 day work week was the norm. Nearly a century later, we’re due for a revamp.

4 day work weeks are the new 5 day work weeks

Negotiate It

This is an item you can bring up at the negotiation table. When you’re first starting a job, this has been noted as a key leveraging item, especially when monetary agreements cannot be granted.

But it’s strongly encouraged to bring it up as a REGULAR negotiation item. Don’t solely bring it up as a concession if another negotiation item doesn’t work out. Let’s make this a universal new work norm. After all, a large portion of companies are already offering this as part of their regular workplace package.

*This can be (& should be) in addition to unlimited PTO – it’s not one or the other, it’s BOTH.

Negotiate for less in the form of fewer days worked.

Negotiate for Less Item #2: Fewer Hours Each Day

Similar to fewer work days in a week, the 8 hour grind is also excessive and outdated. 

Did I say outdated? Let me say it again, it’s SOOOOO outdated. 

Let’s Take a Walk Down History Lane

In 1869, President Ulysses S. Grant enforced 8 hour work days, but just for government workers (Ward & Lebowitz, Business Insider, 2022). 1869. Yes, you read that right. Ulysses S. Grant. Dust off your history books, because we are living in the past.

You can imagine what happened next. Private sector employees wanted a break too, so after that, May Day strikes were a norm to protest the need for everyone to have an 8 hour work day (workers typically worked 100 hours per week). It was finally made a law for all workers in 1940 (Ward & Lebowitz, Business Insider, 2022).

We’re overdue for broaching the topic again 80+ years later. It’s so obvious we need to negotiate for less hours in our work days.

Although, there are some things holding us back. Do you know what is contributing for the lack of discussion about this topic (until now that is)?: “Policy changes, deregulation and a rapid decline in unionization since 1978 has greatly contributed to the stagnation of wages in the country” (World Economic Forum, 2020). And that is that on that.

8 hours Isn’t Sustainable

Anyone in the workforce knows that 8 hours isn’t sustainable. So many breaks take place within that time for that very reason. One study shows that in a typical 8 hour work day, workers are productive for just 2 hours & 53 minutes (Mikel, 2017).

That’s 5 hours of not working on work… and having to “look busy” to your boss. We are so tired of that game. 8 hours is too much. 

Fewer Hours Backed Up By Research & Parkinson’s Law

And there’s a law that backs it up. You know how people say they have 2 work modes: Either accomplish absolutely nothing in 8 hours or complete the full month’s deadlines within 3 hours? Parkinson’s Law backs that up. It’s long been the theory that “work expands to fill [the] available time” (Wen, BBC, 2020).

The original intent of the statement was a gripe about the inefficiencies of bureaucracy (cough, cough, still true today, cough, cough), but recent studies also demonstrate the merit and validity of work filling the allotted time. 

When participants in a study were given more time to complete a task… the task took more time (Wen, BBC, 2020). We don’t need 8 hours to fulfill our work duties.

So let’s bring it to the negotiation table and negotiate for less. 

Negotiate It

Know how many hours work for you. Is it 5? 6? 4? Too often workers get caught in between the confusing “flexible work schedule” when really that’s just a translation for “be available all hours”. It’s a trap. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice – I don’t think so. 

Work to prove your productivity in less time in the negotiation. Can you base it off past performance? Can you cite previous work completion in shorter hours than those around you maintained? Use it to your advantage. Use research, your own experience, even throw in what a competitor is doing (potentially without naming them could be best). 

Same pay, less hours. 
Let’s not do it any other way.

Negotiate for less – negotiate fewer hours worked.

Negotiate for Less Item #3: Fewer Job Responsibilities 

Negotiate for less in the form of fewer responsibilities. Your job description does not need to be a laundry list of every item the company can think of that needs to get done. 

You’re a professional. Make the job description & the tasks you fulfill concise. 

If it can’t be done… then that’s their cue that they need to hire an additional position. You don’t need to be doing 2+ positions for the pay of one.

Overworked and underpaid is outdated.

Negotiate This

This is potentially the newest bargaining chip on the table. For that reason, this negotiate for less item can cause anxiety to current job seekers because at face value, it may appear like you aren’t able to fulfill the duties. But that’s not true.

It’s quite the contrary. You are so good and focused on what you do, you don’t want to waste anyone’s time (not least of all theirs!), doing items that don’t fully capitalize on the most success you can contribute to the company. How will they say no to that? Let me know in the comments. 

Negotiate It

In your negotiation, bring a clear list of items you will and won’t do. Cross out items that seem to be a stretch for the position and get clarification on the specific items that are agreed upon in the job description. 

This is a worker’s market. Rise to the occasion. They need to sell to YOU. Not the other way around. 

Cue the reel: 
Interviewer: Why do you want this job?
Candidate: You called me… ? 

Same pay, less responsibilities. 
Let’s not do it any other way.

Negotiate for less in the form of fewer job responsibilities.

negotiate for less this year

Negotiation Is About Creativity

Negotiation is about creativity.

Corporate profits and productivity are at an all time high. There’s no excuse. 

We don’t need to work 8 hours. Make it 6. Hell make it 4 or 5. We don’t need to work 5 days a week. Make it 4. We don’t need a million items in our job description. Make it concise and thoughtful. 

Negotiate for LESS. Fewer days, hours, responsibilities & more. 

We’re in the age of the employee. We have the power. 

This is why negotiating for less is the new negotiating for more. We don’t want more. We want less. (Actually we want both, but different of each.) 

So get creative and make it a new norm. Negotiate for less. 

negotiating for less is the new negotiating for more

More Items We Need to Negotiate for Less of:

  • Less responsibilities
  • Less days we have to work
  • Less hours
  • Less micromanaging 
  • Less Todd gets paid $16k more than me for doing the same damn job 
  • Less salary secrecy
  • Less corporate nonsense 
  • Less bull$h*t

Put It In Writing

Put it in writing because this is the year. We are asking for less. We will negotiate for less.

We are sick of being “rewarded” with more work. No more of that. We’ll tell you what work we want. We’ll tell you when we want to work. And we’ll tell you what’s not working for us

Don’t they know? Ohhhhh they know. Profits and productivity are at peak highs. They’re reaping the benefits of those profits, but we’re not.

And it’ll continue that way. Unless we take action. So. Get a piece of the pie. Negotiate for less. You don’t have to work nearly as much as you are. How we’re still in the Industrial Age – Ford Motor work hours norm is beyond me. 

We’re negotiating for less, everyone. Get in 🚗. 

Bring it up. Advocate for it. Negotiate it. 

Negotiate for less.

Negotiate for LESS. We’re done with doing more. It’s not serving us. 

– negotiate this
rewarded with more work

*Remember That Negotiating Is An Opportunity

Don’t be afraid to negotiate and ask for new things.

Change your mindset, change your life. 

Shift your perspective around negotiation. Negotiation is an opportunity. It’s a relationship-building tool. Negotiation is a chance to showcase your skills, accomplishments & potential. It’s a chance to show what you value. It’s a time to show how your expert skills meet their needs with ease. Negotiation is a confidence-building conversation. Negotiation is a time to be rewarded. 

Now, go off.

Negotiate for less.

negotiate for less


*Article: “Productivity vs. wages: How wages in America have stagnated” (2021)
Author: World Economic Forum

*Podcast: The One Thing Podcast / Episode 319 “How to Make Thursday the New Friday” (2021)
Author: Geoff Woods / Guest Joe Sanok

*Book: Thursday is the New Friday (2021)
Author: Joe Sanok

*Article: “U.S. companies just had their best year since before most of us were born” @CBS (March 31, 2022)
Author: Kate Gibson 

*Article: “Share the profits! Why US businesses must return to rewarding workers properly” (The Guardian) (2022)
Author: Robert Reich

*Article: “The four day work week merits consideration” (2021) @forbes 
Author: Jeffrey Bartel – Forbes Councils Member

*Article: “More leaders are scrapping the 40-hour workweek. Here’s how it became so popular in the first place” | Business Insider (2022)
*Author: Marguerite Ward and Shana Lebowitz 

*Article: “You’re really only productive for this many hours in an 8 hour rok day study finds – Procrastination outweighs productivity for many office workers”

*Article: “The law that explains why you can’t get anything done” (2020) @BBC
Author: Tiffanie Wen

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Disclaimer: While the contents of this post and blog come from research and personal experience, each experience, situation and/or person has their own unique circumstances. This is not negotiation, financial or any other form of legitimate or official advice from an expert. Each individual should do their own independent, comprehensive research. Negotiation, career and all other decisions are the sole responsibility of each individual or party. Details found on the blog and in individual posts are opinions and should be treated as such for entertainment purposes only. Read further disclaimer information on the Disclaimer page.

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