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Employee Benefits – Benefits That Are Money In The Bank!

August 24, 2011

By Erica D.

While the job market is definitely an employer’s market these days, getting and retaining quality employees is still a focus for many wise employers. In this struggling economy you may be presented with a position that suits you perfectly, but what role should benefits play in your decision to accept a position or decline in spite of the job market?

There are some companies that are scaling down employee benefits in an attempt to create a more attractive bottom line. As the economy improves, only those companies that have stellar benefit packages may increase the employer contributions. Salaries may increase but benefits or the employer’s contributions towards your benefits rarely increase as the economy does. This is why it is important to look closely at benefits before accepting any position.
While medical, dental, and vision insurance are a must for almost all people these days, you should look closely at the insurance package. If you have a family, a high deductible or low employer contributions, a family health plan might not be the best choice for you. Before accepting a position based upon a health insurance package, make sure you know what your out-of-pocket expenses will be and compare that to how much it would cost you to get the same insurance on your own. It is actually possible that you could get a less expensive plan than your potential employer is offering.

Many companies offer 401K plans with the employer matching your contribution in varying percentages. This is money in the bank and should be considered a huge plus when considering a position. While not a “must” for many, a retirement vehicle that will follow you can be a huge benefit if the employer matches 50% or more of the money that you contribute to your 401K. Think of it like actual cash that is unspoken of or “under the table” money!

For many, tuition reimbursement is a benefit that some employers offer that most employees never really take advantage of. If you are finishing your degree or if there are certifications that you are interested in obtaining, this is a benefit that can help your career long-term. Your degree or education will follow you for the rest of your life and having an employer foot the bill benefits them and you for years to come. Just be aware that employers tack on stipulations when taking advantage of their tuition reimbursement. For example, some employers might require you to sign an agreement that you stay on for anywhere from six months to a year, after receiving the reimbursement funds. They invested top dollars in you and feel that you should stick around so they can get their money’s worth.

Paid vacation time or leave is another benefit that many look at closely before accepting a position. For those with small children, the added benefit of being able to telecommute or the addition of flex time as a benefit can outweigh small differences in the amount of paid leave given to new employees. After all, there is nothing that smarts quite so much as having to take vacation time for a sick child or inflexibility in a work schedule that might make getting to work on time impossible if you have little ones to get off to school.

While it might be difficult to pass up a job offer in this economy, carefully weigh the benefits package that your potential employer is offering. As you can see, there are many elements of a benefits package that are pure gold and some that might make a job offer totally unacceptable even in this struggling economy. In the end, the choices are yours but carefully weigh all the benefits and make an educated decision before you jump and take a job that might not be the right fit for you.