Employee benefits are an important part of your overall compensation package. Benefits help us relax when we need time off, see a doctor if we need medical attention and in some cases let us spend quality time at home with our newborns. As the time to enroll in benefits for the New Year approaches at my workplace, it’s got me thinking about what’s really important in life. To my surprise, it’s not the bottom line – did I just say that?!
Maybe it’s because I just turned 36 (on October 9th) or maybe it’s because I enjoy my career, but either way my focus isn’t on money. As I look over the employee benefits offering I’m prioritizing the option to work from home and paid time off. Of course a bigger paycheck is always nice, but it’s no longer the only thing that’s important.
How to maximize your employee benefits:
Health and dental insurance
I have a slew of medical conditions (that we won’t get into here) that require monthly prescriptions and weekly doctor visits (to the chiropractor), so basic health care coverage isn’t an option. I don’t mind paying a little bit out of pocket every two weeks to ensure I have maximum coverage because it would be a heck of a lot more if I didn’t take advantage of what’s available through employer benefits.
If you’re not sure which benefits to choose or how to get them at the cheapest price, the best thing to do is look at your spouse’s employee benefits and choose the best from both worlds. Coordinating benefits with your spouse can save big bucks on health and dental care.
Take all your vacation days every year
Vacation is there to be taken. When I took this job I negotiated an extra week of paid vacation because for some reason that’s easier to approval than a salary increase. I’m not sure why because both options have a cost to the employer, but it’s good to know if you’re negotiating a hiring agreement with a new employer.
Sometimes we just need time off. Time off from work, from life, from a routine. Paid vacation (and paid sick days if you’re lucky to have them) makes it a reality. I take advantage of it every year. This year I’m considering buying extra vacation days. I know it would be at my own expense, but at least it gives me extra time off. Do you have that option with your employer benefits?
This is a new benefit my employer introduced this year as part of a work-life balance initiative and it makes a HUGE difference in an employee’s quality of life. The ability to wake up and work from home ensures a few extra minutes’ sleep – depending on your commute – and I will do anything for 15 minutes more in bed. Anything.
It’s nice to finish work at 5 pm and already be home, it extends your personal time with family and friends which is always nice. I also find that working from home two days a week increases productivity because there are no interruptions and coffee breaks with colleagues. I love my colleagues, but sometimes we just need a break.
What’s your favorite employee benefit?