Make the Most of Your Employee Benefits

Most medium to large companies offer a variety of benefits to their employees. Here are some of the most common benefits that you may find offered.

401(k) With Matching Contributions

Most companies offer some kind of retirement plan. A 401(k) is the most popular, and with good reason. Find out from your HR representative what the rules are, and if you’re not contributing, start as soon as you can. Some employers will automatically enroll new employees, but this is the exception – 94% of workers don’t have automatic enrollment.

The biggest single advantage of a 401(k) – many employers will match some or all of your contributions up to a certain amount. This is free money in your retirement account, and yet lots of people miss out. Experts usually suggest contributing between 10% and 15% of your pay, but if you can’t manage that much make sure you know what percentage your employer matches up to (usually 6% or less) and maximize this free money.

Tuition Reimbursement

If you’re younger, you’re probably reveling in finally being out of school. But if your employer offers tuition reimbursement you should strongly consider taking advantage of it. If you are fortunate enough to work for a company that offers 100% reimbursement, this could be worth as much as $20,000 annually! There might even be other side benefits – when I did my MBA, for instance, part of the course included a ten day session in China. Walking the Great Wall of China was an amazing experience – and it was all part of the tuition, paid for by my employer.

Make sure you understand the tax implications, and also be aware that most employers will require you to pay back some of your tuition if you leave shortly after completing your degree. (Typically, employees are required to stay for two years after they finish their degree.)

And if you’re the kind of person who loves furthering their education, you might find your employer will pay for multiple degrees. Lots of technical workers, for instance, can take both an MBA and a Master’s degree in Information Technology and be reimbursed by their employer for two graduate level degrees. With a full graduate level degree costing around $40,000 these days, this can very quickly add up.

Other Less Common Benefits

There are many other benefits that your employer may offer that you may not immediately think of when first starting your new job. Be sure to ask your HR representative for a reference guide. From subsidized gym memberships to adoption assistance, companies these days are offering a wide range of benefits to retain talented employees.


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