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From Gut Feel to Grounded Decision: How to Navigate Employee Benefit Requests

Imagine this: You’ve completed your annual budget process for the year. Wages have been decided; pay increases have been accounted for. Then, just as you’re meeting with one of your key staff, you’re hit with a curveball. They’re asking for more than just a pay raise – perhaps a vehicle allowance, a phone allowance, or something else. How should you navigate this potentially awkward proposition you hadn’t planned or budgeted for?

The power of gut feel

Every seasoned business owner knows the power of gut feel – the intangible sixth sense that guides you through countless decisions, big and small.

To navigate complex business situations and decisions, trusting your intuition is key. Yet, as crucial as it is, 'gut feel' often floats in a space that’s hard to quantify.

To handle unplanned employee benefit requests, there are four specific considerations to help articulate, quantify and trust your gut feel, ultimately allowing you to make better business decisions.

Leveraging Business Intuition for Employee Benefit Requests

1. Assessing Employee Value: The 0-10 Scale

If an employee comes to you asking for a pay increase or some type of allowance that you hadn’t budgeted for, the first consideration is the irreplaceability of the person sitting before you. Consider how valuable are they to you and your business, on a scale of 0 to 10:

  • 0 being, if they left tomorrow, you’d almost celebrate.
  • 10 being, their departure would create a significant vacuum in the business, perhaps also on a personal level.

2. Measuring Tangible Contribution: Quantifying Value

Next, attempt to ground your gut feel in measurable terms. For roles directly tied to revenue like sales or direct labour, this is straightforward. But for others tied to business growth, such as marketing, it may be more abstract. In this case, it’s useful to compare their contribution to the business with what they’re requesting.

In a real-world scenario, we knew of a senior sales team member who was earning an already-commendable $150,000 annually but didn’t have a company vehicle. They approached their employer requesting a Tesla as part of their compensation package. The addition equated to an unbudgeted $20-25K annually for five years. The company granted the request, recognising the significant value the individual brought to the business and weighing their potential loss on a scale of 0 to 10.

3. The Importance of Self-Compassion: Being Kind to Yourself

Often, our gut nudges us to think beyond spreadsheets and bottom lines. It tells us to consider the human element; the emotional and psychological well-being of both ourselves and our employees.

So while it may seem unorthodox coming from a financial angle, it’s best to trust your instincts and be kind to yourself. You might find that making an exception for a high-value employee, even if it's an unplanned expenditure, will serve your business better in the long run.

Of course, this doesn’t mean bending over backward for every team member. But if you rank the person in front of you highly on the value spectrum, sometimes it’s better to accommodate their request.

4. Beyond the Numbers: Recognising Goodwill

Lastly, consider the element of goodwill. Your intuition is excellent at gauging the intent behind an employee’s request. Are they genuinely seeking a justified reward for their value, or is it opportunistic? Trusting your gut here is essential. If you sense sincerity and genuine value addition from an employee, sometimes it’s worth stretching your budget. After all, goodwill often translates into long-term loyalty and increased value for your business – a win-win for all involved.


In navigating complex business decisions, your gut feel serves as an important signpost. Budgets and numbers are crucial, but the human element of business can’t be ignored. By blending this intuition with quantifiable considerations, you can handle delicate situations with confidence.

So the next time you’re confronted with an unexpected employee request, remember to weigh both tangible and intangible factors. It’s not just about cents and dollars; it’s about securing value, fostering loyalty, and ensuring the long-term prosperity of your business.


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