NEW YORK (MainStreet) Many companies, large and small, have begun to offer more to their employees, aside from just a weekly paycheck. Benefits like medical, dental, and vision insurance are now almost always assumed to be included in the employee package, but what about things like child care, cell phone bill discounts or gym reimbursement? While employees tend to go to work just to get paid for their typical 9 to 5, many do not think to take the extra few minutes to look into any possible perks that their employment agreement has to offer. The following is a list of ten potential perks that you may be missing out on!
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1. Gym/Fitness Reimbursement. Companies, such as the Illinois-based fertilizer company CF Industries, as well as Publix Supermarkets, have begun testing out fitness programs that will reimburse employees for gym membership costs or exercise equipment purchases. The goal behind this benefit is to create a healthier group of employees, and hopefully reduce the cost of healthcare. It should be noted that most companies also place a cap on how much money can be reimbursedso, no, a single employee may not get reimbursed for his or her own personal gym. However, reimbursement for a per-month membership fee for a gym or fitness club may be much more feasible.
2. Tuition Reimbursement. Working full-time while going to school is one of life's biggest challenges. However, if your employer was willing to pay the extra costs associated with the schooling, there's a good chance that the idea of juggling both would seem much more enticing. While most companies will only reimburse for extra schooling that will benefit the employee in his current field, it's a perfect perk for someone who wants the education but doesn't have the extra money to pay out for it.
3. Paternity Leave. With all of the male-female workforce equality that has now come into play, it's not exactly a far-off idea that companies should offer the same benefits to new fathers as they do to new mothers. While the term "maternity leave" is so common, it stands to question why "paternity leave" is not as popular, especially with all of the women that are now so competitive within the job market. Many companies are now viewing this as a necessary benefit, and this blog post details that Facebook, one of the most widely-known companies of this time, offers a generous four months of collective "parental leave"meaning for both new mothers and new fathers. Many other companies are joining, or have already joined, in this movement as well.
4. On-Site Childcare. Companies are coming to the realization that a proper work-life balance is key, not in just pleasing their employees, but for optimizing the productivity of their employees and their jobs. While the costs of finding the space for and operating an on-site childcare center can be great, especially for smaller companies, it becomes worth the expense when employees are enticed to accept a job there, keep that job, and be satisfied in that job. On-site childcare minimizes any risk of having employees frequently leave early or take an abundance of days off in order to be home with their child or deal with issues related to private childcare.
5. Free Tickets to Events/Venues. While most bosses don't want their employees skipping out on work hours to attend things like concerts and sporting events, a lot of companies still choose to participate in programs where their employees can purchase tickets to events at a discounted rate. These types of discounts generate good buzz around the office, encourage positive social relationships between co-workers and improve employees' dispositions in general.
6. Discounts on Cell Phone Bills. While many companies, especially those in the retail industry, offer merchandise discounts, many other companies offer discounts in areas where employees need it mostsuch as bill paying. Now that people of all ages are carrying smartphones, cell phones have the potential to rack up some hefty bills. Large corporations have a tendency to bond with various wireless carriers to provide their employees with a certain percentage of money off of their monthly bills. This 2013 roundup, compiled by Brad's Deals, provides a listing of different companies and colleges, such as Disney, Pfizer and Duke University, that offer various percentage discounts to their employees and students.
7. Employee Referral Bonus. As many as one in every two employers offers some kind of employee referral bonus. This means that if an employee recommends a candidate for new hire, and that candidate winds up being chosen for the position, the employee that referred the candidate will be entitled to a cash bonus. The amount of the bonus depends on the employment contract within the company, and typically the new hire will have to surpass a trial period, usually of around three months, before the employee gets to cash in on it. Companies use this perk as an incentive for their employees, typically those in good standing, to use their trained judgment on possible new hires and make the overall hiring process quicker and easier.
8. Employee Stock Options. Many companies also offer stock options to their employees, meaning that employees are able to purchase a certain amount of stock within the company at a particular rate. The amount of stock available for purchase is usually capped. Then, at the time of his or her choosing, the employee can exercise that stock after the value of the stock increases. The United States Securities and Exchange Commission outlines the basics of Employee Stock Options on their website, here.
9. Legal Benefit Plans. Some companies also offer legal perks, which are basically legal benefit plans provided either for free or for a small monthly fee. These plans typically offer assistance from a group of experienced attorneys to employees regarding legal matters such as real estate planning, consumer protection, and family law. Hyatt Legal Plans, a division of MetLife company, is a popular choice for many corporations offering legal services, and the basic concepts are outlined here.
10. 401(K) Matching. While many companies offer retirement programs these days, it can less common to find a company that offers matching with their 401(K) programs. If an employee chooses to participate in the plan, he is agreeing to have a certain amount of money from each of his paychecks removed, either pre-tax or post-tax, and then deposited into a 401(K) account. The matching comes into play when the company that the employee works for is willing to match the monetary amount up to a certain percentage, usually around 4% or 6%. Essentially, this means that the employee gets extra money from the employer if he or she opts to participate.
--Written by Ciara Larkin for MainStreet