Make the most of your employee benefits.
Employee benefits can feel like added perks, but in reality they’re an important piece of your compensation and shouldn’t be overlooked – neither in your current job nor when you’re on the market for a new one. And while health and dental insurance might be nothing new, some companies are starting to offer new and novel benefits, as well. Whatever is included in your comprehensive package, just be sure you’re taking advantage of everything your employer has to offer.
The Benefit of Clocking Out
Despite vacation being one of the most common benefits, a 2017 survey by Glassdoor found that 23% of employees aren’t taking all of their eligible time off. Those workers are essentially forfeiting some of their hard-earned compensation! Remember, time away from the office is proven to boost one’s energy and creativity – a win-win for you and your employer.
The average employee only takes about half – 54% – of their vacation time.
Some companies are even giving their employees full rein to decide how much time off they need for themselves with unlimited vacation time. Whether that’s the case for you, don’t forget to take into account the personal and sick days at your disposal, as well.
Helping You Retire
You’ve heard it before, but it’s worth repeating: if your employer offers a match to your 401(k) contributions, be sure to max it out and not leave money on the table. Additionally, employee stock programs or discounts on company stock can be a great way to increase your savings, if offered.
Go with the Flow
More and more employers are offering their employees increased flexibility as a way to attract and retain talent. Talk with your supervisor about the possibility of working remotely or adjusting your typical 9-to-5 schedule so it better suits your lifestyle or, perhaps, growing family.
Caring for Your Health
Health and dental insurance are among the more common benefits, but make sure you’re aware of your options when enrolling. Flexible spending accounts (FSAs) for example allow you to set aside up to $5,000 in pre-tax funds, which you can even use for eligible childcare or dependent care expenses. Doing so avoids income taxes and payroll-withholding taxes on the amount contributed.
Health savings accounts (HSAs) offer the added benefit of allowing your funds to roll over from year to year, and can even be invested once they reach a certain amount. Your employer may even offer a contribution.
Some health insurance plans or employers specifically offer discounts or reimbursements for gym memberships in an effort to help employees maintain a healthy lifestyle. Certain companies are also making space in their offices for gyms, making it easier to get in a quick treadmill jog during your lunch break.
Protecting Your Future
While it might be hard to imagine needing benefits like disability insurance, accident insurance, life insurance or critical illness insurance, they might just help protect you when you need it most. In fact, according to a report by the Social Security Administration, 1 in 4 people in their 20s working today will become disabled before retirement age.
Resources for Parents
Parents and prospective parents should explore the offerings available to them, as well, which may include extended maternity, paternity and adoption leave, and even financial assistance for adoption or infertility services. Nursing mothers should also ask about on-site mother’s lounges.
Funding Your Future
Have you thought about enrolling in continuing education programs or going back to school for a graduate degree? Many employers offer tuition reimbursement for employees, allowing you to advance your career at a discount while keeping your job. Plus, it might help you secure a raise.
Furthering Your Philanthropy
Many companies are happy to support, and extend, the generosity of their employees and will offer to match employee donations to the charity of your choice – often dollar-for-dollar but sometimes even more. Some companies are even giving donations in exchange for employee volunteer hours.
Coverage for Your Four-Legged Friends
Your employer might just offer coverage for your entire family, including your pets. Pet insurance is growing more and more popular, plus some employers (albeit not many) offer bring-your-pet-to-work programs.
With so many options and potential offerings on the table, it’s easy to get overwhelmed or lose track of the resources available to you. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your human resources colleagues to help you make sense of it all. And if you have any lingering questions or want to know how your benefits affect your financial plan, your financial advisor is always available to discuss your options.
Takes these steps to make sure you’re maxing out your employer’s benefits:
- If you’ve been with your employer for some time, review the latest benefits package for anything new.
- Reach out to your HR representative and ask if there are any commonly overlooked benefits.
- Meet with your financial advisor to ensure your benefits have been accounted for in your financial plan.