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January 4, 2021

How to negotiate your bonus

Learn why it’s important for physicians to negotiate a bonus, how to do it, and which questions to ask.

You likely understand the importance of negotiating your salary and beginning your career with the best annual salary that you and your employer can agree upon. Once you’ve come to a figure you’re both happy with, train your focus on your bonus. Believe it or not, you can also negotiate your bonus.

Negotiating your bonus to increase your perceived value as a candidate

Negotiating your bonus doesn’t just put more money in your pocket. It can also increase your perceived value as a candidate. When a physician negotiates his or her bonus, it shows how much the physician is willing to bet on him or herself. This may incentivize the employer to increase the offer.

How a bonus figure is calculated

A bonus figure can be calculated several different ways. Before you make your counter-offer, understand the metrics of how your bonus is calculated. A bonus can represent a physician’s work activities, financial contributions to the practice, or overall productivity. These should be quantitative figures. Thus, you’ll want to ask: What are the thresholds to achieve the bonus?

Questions to ask about your bonus

There are several other pieces of information that you’ll want to know to make an informed argument for a bigger bonus. Ask questions such as, "How likely is it that I’ll achieve the bonus?" If you do achieve the bonus, you’ll want to know the frequency. Will the bonus be monthly, quarterly, or paid at the end of the contract year?

As you grow in your career, you’ll want your bonus to grow with you. Thus, you can ask: "How might the bonus be adjusted in subsequent years?"

In the course of the conversation, you’re not just talking about bonus opportunities: you’re having a bigger discussion about your intention to do great work, to exceed expectations, and to contribute to the practice. When you reframe bonus negotiation in this way, of course employers will want to do what it takes to land you on their team: you’re already talking about achieving excellence in your practice.

To learn more about negotiating your bonus and other elements of a "home-run" employment contract, watch this video interview with attorney Bruce Armon. Armon specializes in health care law, specifically employment contracts for both physicians and healthcare employers.

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