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When you take a new job, there is a lot to consider. Assuming you selected the role for the skillset, questions remain like what your time off will look like, how will the company pay you, what does insurance coverage look like in this role? All of these extraneous questions are related to one crucial concept: employee benefits. Even if you are not just starting a new job, benefits remain relevant throughout your time at any organization. 

So what are employee benefits?

Have you ever walked into a store and seen a big sign that read “We’re hiring!” and advertised the employee discount? Even though you already have a job, you thought, “Wow, I could use 30% off at the Gap!” That discount is a prime example of an employee benefit. Also known as perks or fringe benefits, benefit packages include some incentive to recruit and retain employees to continue working at the company. For a retail store, it could be anything from a store wide discount to overtime. Employee benefits are proven to increase retention, improve quality of life, and boost engagement at work. At my first job, I scooped frozen custard, and each employee got two free custard items per shift. That was a sweet deal!

What are common employee benefits?

There is no standard, because employee benefits depend heavily on the job you have, the industry you work in, and how much you work. For example, one person may have medical, dental, and vision insurance included in their work package, and someone else might get two free custard items per shift. The benefit must match the job. It is common for benefits to fall into three categories. Employee emotional support, physical wellbeing, and financial wellbeing, as described here. Emotional support can mean time off or resources for mental health support. Physical wellbeing includes any OSHA regulations, health insurance, and other things like that. Financial includes any compensation. On top of your salary, there may be additional benefits. Usually starting in your early twenties, jobs will start offering retirement plans. That is, some sort of 401(k) or 403(b) investment account where both you and your employer contribute a set amount of money per pay period to grow before your retirement. This system sets you up for success in the future as a result of your income now.

What are unique employee benefits?

As detailed in this article, some offices offer non traditional benefits. Anything from pet insurance to tutoring can come as a perk on the job. I have even heard that employees at Starbucks or McDonalds get tuition aid as a part of their compensation. In the wake of the pandemic many companies have opted for remote availability or even a four day work week as non-traditional employee benefits. In fact, the more people make the shift, the more these options make more sense. In terms of accessibility, working online provides employment opportunities to a more varied community. Geographically, people can live anywhere, stay at home if need be, and still be able to work as effectively through technology. 

What should I try?

If you are considering establishing some new employee benefits, or you are an employee hoping to gain access to a specific benefit, there are strategies to get that started. The first solution is to get employee feedback. This can be in the form of a survey, an anonymous comment box, or just interpersonal communication. Ask around and see what people like and do not like about your current working environment. If you start to notice a theme, consider implementing a solution. If you notice any other deficits of incentive, productivity, or camaraderie, consider motivating employees with benefits.