How to fully benefit from your new job- Part 2 - The Broke Professional

How to fully benefit from your new job- Part 2

vacation

Don’t forget days like these!

In my previous post, I talked about how to maximize the two main perks associated with most new jobs, health insurance and retirement planning.  Being on top of these two benefits will definitely put you on the right path toward using your work benefits to the fullest.  There are a few other ways to make sure you are getting the most out of your new job.  These may not give you the biggest bang for your buck as optimizing your healthcare and 401k contributions will, but they will help nonetheless.  The most important thing to remember is to get all the information you can from your Human Resources department.  Fellow co-workers mean well when they give you information about the workplace.  But they may be misinformed themselves or giving you outdated information.  Always go straight to the source, and that is your HR department.

So here are some other workplace perks you should definitely be taking advantage of:

Vacation days:  Everyone loves a nice vacation, and we all need to recharge once in a while in order to keep working at a comfortable pace.  But many people don’t know the specific policies there companies have regarding vacation.  Some companies let you roll over unused vacation days into the following year, while some companies have a “use it or lose it” policy.  Others will split vacation days called by different names such as “sick days” or “paid time off”.  These can have their own regulations as well.

Your paid vacation days are part of your total compensation.  Your company already factored them in when determining your salary.  So it is important to get your full vacation benefits explained from your HR department so you can know exactly what’s going on and also track your days off yourself in case there are some discrepancies.  Not taking vacation effectively can cause you to leave money on the table.  How so?  let’s say you have 4 weeks worth of vacation to use for the year.  For whatever reason you forget to use 2 of those weeks.  These are the types of vacation days that are gone at the end of the year.  That means you just worked 50 out of the 52 weeks of the year, but you got paid for 48 weeks of work.  You just gave yourself a pay cut.  This is definitely not a good feeling and shows how important maximizing your vacation days can be.

Discounts:  Many workplaces offer discounts for various products or services, a lot of times unbeknownst to their employees.  I personally experienced this the hard way as it took me two years to find out that my company gives a discount for using Verizon Wireless.  It wasn’t a huge discount by any means, but it did painlessly save me some money every month.  The way I found out about it was an off-hand comment from a co-worker who heard that that the company gives certain discounts.  I just called the HR department and they sent me a list of services that we are eligible to get discounts for.  These included things such as cell phone service, car insurance, gym memberships and amusement park tickets.  These are things most people already pay money for, so it’s nice to save some money without much effort.

Advisers/counselors:  When I was first presented with investment options in my 401k, I have to admit I was a little confused.  I called my HR department and told them as much, and they recommended I call the company’s investment adviser, who was available ti all employees.  The fact that there is one adviser for thousands of employees shows how much he is being used.  In any case, I gave him a call and asked him my list of questions and he answered them all and worked with me to find an appropriate investment plan.  This perk could potentially be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars because that can be the difference between a well constructed investment plan and a poor one. 

Many companies also provide their employees with counselors for issues such as stress in the workplace or grieving for the loss of a loved one.  Companies want their workers to be productive, and that includes providing help in times of need.  Thankfully, I really haven’t had to make use of these services, but it’s nice to know that its there.

These are a few of the “miscellaneous” perks that many workplaces offer.  Though the bang for the buck may not be as great as a strong 401k and healthcare plan, any discount or service which you otherwise wouldn’t have received is a good thing.  Things like vacation days and company discounts are the low hanging fruit of workplace perks.  They are easy to attain and produce immediate benefits.  And it’s always important to remember that if you’re not sure if you have a certain benefit or not, just ask your HR department.  You’ll never know until you do.

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Comments

  1. When I was fundraising for the marathon I learned that many companies will match their employee’s charitable contributions. While it’s not really a benefit to the employee, it’s a great way to contribute something and see it make double the impact.

    • That’s a cool benefit never heard of that before. I should look to see if my company does that. Thanks for the comment Stefanie!

  2. Good stuff. One key thing is to simply remember to sign up for benefits in the enrollment window. Evidence of insurability is a pain, but it may disappear entirely with Affordable Care Act.

    • Good point. Yeah have to do that myself by the end of the week. Luckily the ACA didn’t have too much of an effect on our insurance this year but who knows what lies in the future. Thanks for the comment!

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