How to make sure you get all employer benefits
Many employers offer their workers benefits other than health insurance and retirement planning.
These benefits can range from mental health services to financial counseling and can be used to increase your personal wealth.
But many workers do not know what benefits they are entitled to. In fact, some 32% of employees said they were confused about their workplace benefits, according to a Businessolver study. This confusion can be even more prevalent when it comes to benefits that are not part of the enrollment process, unlike medical and retirement benefits.
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These are “often overlooked or forgotten because [employees] don’t see them in the sign-up stream and the employee doesn’t pay for them,” said Sherri Bockhorst, senior vice president of innovation and strategy at Businessolver. “But these benefits are very valuable to the employee.
Benefits that can be overlooked
Workplace benefits that often do not require employee enrollment may include childcare and eldercare assistance, financial counseling, fertility and adoption assistance, mental health services, fitness and wellness resources and more.
Employees are generally less aware of these other benefits and may not use them as much. According to the Benefits Research Institute, about 55% of workers say they have a good understanding of their financial benefits, with similar rates for emotional and additional benefits.
“It seems people are more likely to say they understand the health benefits, probably because they’ve been around longer,” said Bridget Bearden, research and development strategist at EBRI. She added that over time, we hope adoption of these other benefits will increase as they become more mainstream.
Why should you use all the benefits offered
Taking advantage of all the perks available to you at work can help you grow your wealth, improve your physical and emotional health, and increase your satisfaction with your job, Bearden said.
First, many employers offer financial benefits that workers can use to help shore up their finances and ensure they’re on track to achieve long-term goals. Additionally, using other resources through your employer may mean that you get a discounted service.
“Often the employer can offer these services to workers at a rate they couldn’t find in the retail market,” Bearden said. “It’s very important that employees recognize that.”
For example, if you have legal insurance, it will help you with a host of things like writing a will, setting up trusts, or even gathering the paperwork you need to buy a house.
“All of these things in the long run will significantly lower your fees and allow you to build more wealth over time because of it,” Bearden said.
These discounts could also help people who are currently struggling with inflation and rising interest rates, two factors that squeeze their budget.
“There couldn’t be a better time to learn more about what you already have and not spend money on those things,” said Paul Seegert, managing partner at PCS Advisers in Chico, Calif. He noted that many employers offer free sessions on mental health, which could save thousands of dollars for a worker who wants to see a counsellor.
Where to look for help
Of course, employers need to know what’s available to them to use their full benefits.
If you work at a company with an HR or benefits portal, this is a good place to start to see what’s open to you. Additionally, the last page of your registration guide should include a list of all available resources, Bockhorst said.
Your company also likely sends employees emails about benefits enrollment, which will include information about what’s on offer.
“Reading those emails, opening them is a huge step forward,” Bearden said, adding that if there are news events, you should attend them as well.
If you’re still confused, experts recommend reaching out to an HR professional at your company.
“Think of them as a resource to help you use all the benefits they work so hard to give you,” Bearden said. “Don’t be afraid to ask for help.”
“They’re going to be able to fill you in on these things,” Seegert said. If there’s a benefits number, you can also call and find out what’s available and be connected to the right resources, he said.
You can also ask your co-workers or other co-workers what Perks they use, Bearden said.
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Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in tassels.