When you get a job offer, you may focus on salary, title, and growth potential. But are you taking the time to understand the value of your employee benefits package and company perks?
According to MetLife's 2023 Employee Benefits Trend Study, compensation is only one part of job satisfaction.1 It’s important not to overlook factors like a comprehensive benefits package. Employee benefits play an important role in work-life balance and job satisfaction.
Types of employee benefits
Some employee benefits are more commonplace than others. Retirement plans, paid time off (PTO), and health insurance are all examples of employee benefits. In 2021, over 156 million Americans were covered by health insurance offered by their employer.2 Local and state laws mandate benefits like workers’ compensation insurance and unemployment, to name a few.
Here’s what you should know about primary employee benefits.
- 401(k) retirement plan: If you have access to a 401(k) retirement plan through your employer, you’ll be able to contribute a certain percentage of your income to this fund each year, tax-free. Your company may offer to match your contribution up to a certain percentage. They may also make a dollar-for-dollar match. The tax savings on your contributions is a great benefit, and a match could double your savings.
- Health insurance coverage: Many companies offer group health, vision, and dental insurance. Your employer may give you access to a health savings account (HSA) or flexible spending account (FSA). These let you set aside money from your paycheck to use toward qualified healthcare costs.
- Paid time off (PTO): Some companies separate holidays, sick time, and personal days. Others put paid time off into one pool. Many companies offer unlimited paid time off, giving more flexibility to their employees.
- Family and medical leave: The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires companies with over 50 employees to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave.3 Companies provide this to eligible employees with medical conditions or family obligations. Some employers provide partially paid leave, fully paid leave, or additional weeks of leave at full or partial pay.
- Unemployment insurance: Unemployment insurance (UI) offers money to workers who have lost their job through no fault of their own. The Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA) requires employers to pay taxes to federal and state governments.4 These taxes help provide financial help to out-of-work employees.
- Workers’ compensation: Most states mandate businesses with employees to offer workers' compensation insurance. This provides protection to employees if they’re injured at work or develop an occupational illness.
Types of voluntary benefits
Your company may also offer voluntary benefit options that you can opt into for extra coverage and financial protection. You can often find these employee-paid options at group rates, which can help to round out your financial safety net. Here are a few examples:
- Life insurance: Life insurance provides financial support to your beneficiaries upon your death. Beneficiaries can use the money to pay for things like funeral expenses, and household debt, and to help make up for lost income.
- Disability insurance: Disability insurance can offer a financial cushion if you're unable to work because of an unexpected illness or injury. Disability insurance can help pay for expenses, like food, utilities, mortgage, and car payments.
- Supplemental health insurance: This includes accident insurance, critical illness insurance, hospital indemnity insurance, and cancer insurance. These voluntary insurance policies can provide you with a lump sum due in the event of unexpected medical issues.
- Legal insurance: Legal insurance can help decrease the financial burden of hiring a lawyer. This type of insurance connects you with a network of experienced attorneys that can assist you with navigating legal situations. This ranges from estate planning and writing a will, to fighting a traffic ticket.
Other types benefits
An employer may offer extra perks to express their appreciation to employees alongside core benefits. These are sometimes referred to as fringe benefits. Some examples of fringe benefits include free meals, gym memberships, and childcare support.
Here are a few examples:
- Childcare: If you’re thinking about starting a family, or if you already have a young family, find out if the company offers any extra childcare benefits. That might include an onsite daycare, discounted rates at local daycares, and dependent care FSAs.
- Meals and snacks: A 2019 QuickBooks survey found that 39% of employees spend $5 to $10 on lunch per day, and another 13% spend $10 to $25. If your company does provide these perks, you could move this expense from your weekly budget into your savings account.
- Gym membership: If your company offers a discounted gym membership or an onsite fitness center, this is a perk that can save you money. The average gym membership fee in 2021 ranged from $38 to $75 a month.
- Commuter benefits programs: Find out if your company offers a commuting stipend or a commuter benefits program. Some commuter benefits programs may actually save you money. You can deduct the cost of your monthly commute from your paycheck tax-free.
- Flexible working arrangements: According to a 2021 Mercer survey, 87% of employers reported being open to giving their employees more flexibility.5 Surveys found that employees want flexibility to improve mental health and increase productivity.6
- Pet insurance: Some employers even offer pet insurance as part of their employee benefits. Pet insurance can help cover veterinary care and other expenses. In fact, 45% of pet owners reported spending the same or more on their pet’s health care compared to their own.7
Bottom line: good benefits add value to a job
When you’re deciding whether to take a job, review your benefits package in detail. Good benefits can make your offer more competitive. Good benefits can make an offer more competitive, as they show how much an employer cares. This can be as meaningful as the job offer itself.