Consider Your Employee Benefits

April 9, 2018

Terry Brown 1By Terry Brown, Assistant Director of Counseling & Programs

As a soon-to-be or recent graduate, you’ll face the task of evaluating a job offer or possibly comparing several. Your first inclination may be to focus on what will end up in your wallet at the end of a pay period. But there’s more to consider than just your salary.

Employee benefits can make a big difference to your financial security and peace of mind. So, when you’re considering a job offer, be sure you understand the non-salary benefits and weigh their value before you make a final decision. You may be surprised to find that a lower-paying job with great benefits might put you financially and professionally ahead when compared to a higher-paying job.

Here are a few of the most common benefits and things you should consider about them as you evaluate your job offer:

Health Insurance. Most employers are currently required to provide employees with health insurance. Make sure to note the potential costs of co-payments, employee-paid premiums, deductibles, and maximum out-of-pocket expenses. Are the health providers limited to a particular network or are you free to choose any provider without incurring additional costs?

Life Insurance. Many employers offer group life insurance, typically some multiple of your salary. Consider the value of protecting your loved ones from the responsibility of assuming your debts (student loans, car loans, credit cards, etc.).

Disability Insurance. If you become disabled, due to an accident or illness, and are unable to work, you still have bills to pay (rent, utilities, food, clothing, loan payments, etc.). This insurance provides a percentage of your gross income to you while you are unable to work as determined by a physician.

Retirement Plan. If you’re just beginning your career, retirement is probably the last thing on your mind. But a retirement plan is a special savings account that you deposit income into before taxes, meant to be left alone until you near or reach retirement age. Some employers match or add to your contribution which, in essence, is free money.

Paid Time Off (PTO). Once you start working, you’ll sure miss those automatic summer vacations and spring breaks. Some companies break up your PTO into different categories, like sick days, personal days, and vacation time. Other companies give you one set amount of PTO and don’t care why you take the time off. Some employers give you all your PTO at once, while others make you accrue it over time.

Educational Benefits. Many companies offer tuition reimbursement for employees who would like to go back to school. You’ll want to look at the specifics such as: What do they cover? Is it contingent upon grades? Do you pay for it first and then they reimburse you or do they pay for it at the outset? Does it come with a time commitment to remain with the company?

Extra Job Perks. Some companies offer extra perks such as childcare, discounts on your mobile phone, health club memberships, or a stipend for your car.