submitted by Joe Beckford
When weighing a job offer, you consider the salary package. But sometimes in the hustle to secure a contract, you may not review the other benefits quite as critically. Once you’ve started, there’s even less time to read through the novel that is the employee handbook. While understanding your benefits may be the to-do you keep putting off, if you don’t make time, there’s no way to know what all you might be missing. So, here are the four things you absolutely need to do to fully use your employee benefits.
1. Max Your 401k Match
If you do nothing else, do this. If your employer matches 401k contributions, you need to maximize it. While this should be an easy choice, 1 in 4 employees are missing out on the full match. By not using your employee’s match, you’re basically taking thousands of dollars out of your own pocket. So, evaluate your budget, make adjustments and starting building wealth.
2. Use All Your PTO
Even more surprisingly, over half of American employees use just half of their paid time off. The unfortunate reality is you may be concerned that taking time off will jeopardize your career. However, by not unplugging from your job, you increase the likelihood of burnout, rob your family of uninterrupted time together and reduce the quality of your work product. It's time to schedule a vacation - we're confident you'll come back refreshed, inspired and thankful.
3. Don't Forget the Fringes
While you may already be taking full advantage of your retirement, vacation and medical benefits, don't forget about those seemingly little extras that can make a big difference for your bottom line. Common examples include discounts to gym memberships, meal reimbursement for those late nights and childcare assistance. And if there's a fringe benefit you think your company should be offering, like reimbursing your ride fare when you take public transit, consider mentioning it to HR.
4. Get Your Side Hustle On
If you have a passion project that happens to pay, you might have put it on pause when starting a new job because you’re worried HR won’t approve. While companies can be restricting when it comes to employees having part-time jobs in the same industry, they usually don’t care if there’s no conflict of interest. If you’re an accountant and your side hustle is graphic design, you’re probably okay. Check the handbook and get back to it.
Once you’ve taken these steps and received the financial and emotional dividends, you’ll likely want to take time to answer other questions about your benefits. So, make the time, ask for some help if you need it and get to work reviewing your benefits package.