I feel like at least one of my friends is always looking for a new job. Reasons range from hating their bosses, to being bored out of their minds, to working too much, to the most frequent reason which is seeking more compensation. A mistake I see a lot of people make is they only concentrate on their salary and potential cash bonus, but don’t factor in other benefits which their employers may provide. Not all of these benefits are monetary, but should definitely be weighed when determining if you are fairly compensated or if it is worth your while to seek other employment.
Below I’ve put a list together of fringe and other workplace benefits that need to be considered when determining total compensation, including non-monetary benefits.
- 401k – This can range from small companies who offer no 401k at all, to an oil services firm offering an 8% match, to government contractors contributing 25% of your pay into your 401k, even if you don’t contribute. Personally my match stinks, but my employer’s plan is with Vanguard which is awesome.
- Pension – I bet you’re all thinking “ha!” but they actually still exist. I even have a small one with my current employer. Some unions who have a decent amount of bargaining power still are able to get their union members some pretty lucrative ones.
- Employee Stock Purchase Plans / Stock Options – I’ve never been offered a plan like this, but I’ve helped others with theirs. Depending on the discount given by the employer, these can be no-brainers to max out just like your HSA or 401k. But you have to be careful, because if the discount stinks or the stock of your employer hasn’t appreciated in 10 years, they can be worthless.
- Health – This one is huge. As people know, healthcare in the U.S. is NOT cheap. Luckily my employer offers a cheap HSA plan in which they even throw in a biweekly contribution. I’ve known employees at small companies and startups where health insurance is fully paid for by the employer, which is a huge benefit. Other companies usually just pay for a certain percentage of your premiums. Employers may also offer onsite gyms or will chip in to your monthly gym membership. Healthy employees are happier employees, and cost less to insure.
- Life insurance – Many employees don’t even know they have employer paid for life insurance. From what I’ve seen a common “freebie” is a 1x your annual salary deal benefit.
- Food – Some in the tech world get all their meals provided at their jobs in Silicon Valley. Others, like myself, will get free food if they work late or on the weekends and for work travel. Also I seem to be invited to random work sponsored fancy dinners for the hell of it as well, which I don’t complain about.
- Travel – If you like to travel, what’s better than employer/client paid travel? Free hotel points, airfare loyalty programs, and meals at nice restaurants in destination cities. I don’t travel that much for work but I enjoy when I do. If you work for a large employer, they potentially have preferred hotel affiliations where you can stay at the ritzy joints for cheap. Whenever I travel to a big city I stay at some pretty nice places I would never pay for out of pocket during personal travel.
- Flexibility / Remote Work Arrangement – My buddy Steve at Think Save Retire has no commute whatsoever, and neither does Mr. 1500. They both get to work from home and never have to worry about commutes or traffic or public transportation. I don’t have this luxury but I do enjoy the flexibility to work from home some Fridays or work remotely if I’m visiting out of state.
- Computer / Cell phone – My laptop and iPhone 6 were both paid for by my employer and so is my cell phone bill with unlimited data. Some employers even supply tablets if you’re lucky.
- Vacation / PTO – This varies greatly due to industry, experience, and employer. Personally I get a pretty sizable amount of PTO which is a great benefit. Even if I don’t go on vacation or fly somewhere to visit people, it’s great to take this time to recharge and get motivated.
- Maternity / Paternity Leave – Not a topic which I’ve researched in detail, but I know it is important to a lot of people, and I’m sure I’ll research it more down the road. We all heard the stories about Netflix instituting a ridiculous maternity/paternity policy, but this also highlighted how poor many other employer’s policies were.
- Education – Some employers will pay for you to further your education, get more credentials, and expand skill sets. I know in banking it is possible to get your MBA fully funded which can be an almost $200k benefit. Personally my first job pitched in ten thousand bucks for my master’s degree.
For me the most important workplace benefits are flexibility and PTO. I’ve considered leaving for more money, but then I think about the time off I’m allotted now and the ability to have a flexible work arrangement when I need it. These are definitely not guaranteed if I left my current employer, and I think a hefty PTO allowance is something I couldn’t backtrack from.
Next time you’re considering a new job opportunity or helping a friend or family member, make sure to think about these 12 potential workplace benefits.
Does your employer offer you any benefits which I did not discuss? Which ones are the most important to you personally?