5 workplace benefits you shouldn't overlook
When you think about the aspects of your job that are most important, it's natural for money to be, well, up there. After all, without a decent wage, you'll have trouble paying your bills and socking away money for savings. Unfortunately, a large number of Americans aren't happy in this regard. According to a 2014 Monster.com survey, over 65% of U.S. employees are dissatisfied with their wages.
If your salary isn't up to snuff, you may be persuaded to start looking for a new job. Similarly, if you're offered a job with a salary that's lower than expected, you may be inclined to reject it. But before you do, remember that your salary is only one part of your overall compensation package. In fact, here are some key workplace benefits that can more than make up for a salary that isn't stellar.
1. A great health plan
A comprehensive health insurance plan can save you thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket medical costs year after year, and the more your employer contributes toward your premiums, the less you'll have to pay. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, in 2016, annual premiums for employer-sponsored health plans reached $18,142, with workers paying $5,277, on average, toward the cost of their coverage. If your company offers a generous health plan and makes you pay only a small portion of your costs, you should factor the financial savings into your total compensation.
2. A 401(k) plan -- with an employer match
Employer-sponsored 401(k) plans make it easy to save for retirement, yet according to a Wells Fargo study, 41% of workers don't have the option to participate in one. If you're among the 59% of employees with access to a 401(k), you should consider yourself lucky -- especially since 92% of companies that sponsor these plans also offer some type of matching incentive. Whatever match your employer gives you is essentially free money; all you need to do to collect it is contribute to your 401(k) yourself. But if, say, your employer is willing to match contributions up to 3% of your salary, and you earn $50,000 a year, you could potentially snag an extra $1,500 -- no strings attached.
3. Flexible work arrangements
The ability to work from home, whether consistently or on occasion, can not only save you money on commuting, but make life more manageable on a whole. If your company extends this privilege, no longer will you have to take time off to accept deliveries or let contractors in for quick home repairs. Similarly, if your company is willing to let you condense your workweek or alter your hours to, say, accommodate your limited child care options, that's a benefit that can directly enhance your quality of life.
4. A generous amount of paid time off
Some companies offer seasoned employees more paid time off than newbies. Others have uniform employee time off policies, regardless of tenure. But if your company offers a considerable amount of time off, that's a perk you'll enjoy in more ways than one. First, you won't have to worry about losing pay if you fall ill several times during the year, or have to travel frequently for personal reasons. Additionally, having more time off to get away, relax, and recharge can be good for your physical and mental health. Finally, the more paid time off you get, the more opportunities you'll have to moonlight on the side and bring in extra income -- provided your company doesn't have a policy against it.
5. Wellness perks
These days, a growing number of companies are recognizing the importance of helping employees stay healthy. To this end, many are instituting wellness programs where employees get access to free or discounted gym memberships, money toward personal exercise equipment, and in-office yoga classes or massages. Taking better care of your health can save you money in the long run, so don't discount the value of these little extras.
Before your seemingly meager salary drives you to start looking for a better-paying job, take some time to consider the value of the various benefits your company offers. It may very well be the case that you'll make $3,000 more at another company, but if that employer contributes that much less toward your health plan, you won't actually wind up better off. Crucial as your salary might be, it's just as important to keep your eyes on the big picture when contemplating your employment options.
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