Most employees know it’s usually a good idea to take advantage of benefits such as retirement savings, medical insurance, and paid vacation days. What they may be forgetting, however, is that many companies offer more perks, many of which provide the opportunity to save both time and money. We’re not just referring to the over-the-top game rooms and gourmet meals that employers like Google use to attract talent and media attention. There are a lot of very practical benefits employers provide that seem to fly under the radar.
Then there are the benefits like paternity leave and transgender health coverage that ought to be universal, but somehow still aren’t. More employers are catching on to benefits like these, and whether they are instituted for the good of the employees, for increased productivity and loyalty, or for the employer’s reputation alone, workers would be unwise to miss out on any perk that comes with the job.
That’s not to say everything an employer offers will be the right fit for every employee, but it’s a good idea to at least do a thorough check on what’s offered. Sometimes not all benefits are widely talked about by human resources managers, and it can be easy to miss the occasional email touting a special employee discount or perk. If you are taking advantage of your 401k company match and a worthwhile health plan, that’s a great place to start. But you could be missing out on savings elsewhere. If you’re lucky enough to work at a company that offers additional employee benefits, here are some of the perks worth considering.
In 2013, almost every large employer providing health benefits also offered at least one employee wellness program. These initiatives can include weight loss programs, gym membership discounts or on-site exercise facilities, biometric screening, smoking cessation programs, personal health coaching, classes in nutrition or healthy living, web-based resources for healthy living, flu shots or vaccinations, Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), or a wellness newsletter. As an employee, participating in one of these programs could even mean lower monthly premiums for your health insurance. Some companies also offer health savings accounts or flexible spending accounts.
A growing number of employers are beginning to implement financial wellness programs, with many predicting this will be a standard element of benefits packages in the coming years. These programs offer financial guidance, most often in terms of retirement savings and health care costs. Another financial perk some companies offer is the option to automatically allocate part of your paycheck to a savings account via direct deposit. Automatic savings transfers are great for people who want to get in the habit of building savings but may lack the willpower to move that money over to a savings account each month.
Most employees wouldn’t turn down employer-sponsored health insurance, but there are likely many more types of insurance to consider. Vision and dental insurance are common options that some employees might choose, depending on their circumstances, but life insurance and disability insurance are sometimes forgotten. Many employees who do have disability insurance don’t know the details of their plan, such as the length of the waiting period or what portion of their salary is covered. To give their employees peace of mind and increase productivity, some employers, such as Sprint, Home Depot, and the Walt Disney Company even offer pet insurance plans.
Child care can cost a fortune over time, but to the delight of many parents, some employers offer on-site child care programs. As people’s life spans continue to increase, companies are also beginning to offer elder care benefits to help employees tend to aging parents and relatives. This support can come in the form of partial reimbursement for elder care specialists or emergency in-home care. Some companies allow employees to enroll adult family members in their health insurance plans.
Subsidized training is one of the most direct ways an employer can provide educational benefits. Conferences, seminars, and classes give employees free tools and skills that can prepare them for career growth and success, and oftentimes, these learning opportunities happen on company time. Many employers also provide reimbursement for college classes, provided they are related to an employee’s career field. In recent years, however, more companies are offering help with student loans or tuition assistance for a full four-year degree.
6. Time off
Not only should American workers be taking way more of their allotted vacation days, they may have the opportunity to take advantage of even more time off. Some companies are allowing new hires to take vacation time before they actually start work, calling it a “pre-cation.” Others, like Evernote and FullContact, provide various vacation stipends for their employees. Unlimited vacation policies are gaining popularity, especially in the startup world, with a focus on both getting the job done and having plenty of time to relax and recharge.
7. Discounts, freebies, and seasonal perks
Don’t miss out on the valuable discounts your employer may have secured for employees. Health club discounts are just the beginning. Many offices subsidize or provide office snacks, lunch, or even multiple meals while employees are at work, which is both a money-saver and a time-saver. Sometimes workers can also receive company discounts for local retailers, amusement parks, concert tickets, and travel expenses. Seasonal perks like flexible summer hours are among many employees’ favorite benefits. If you’re not sure what kind of incentives and discounts are available at your company, contact your HR representative.