Thinking beyond your salary
Employee benefits like vacation time, RRSP match, medical and dental insurance, are standard packages negotiated when you begin a new job, as well as during performance reviews. But there are so many extra perks a job can have that can make it more satisfying, and taking the time to look beyond your salary range could mean saving tens of thousands of dollars over your career.
Here are a few examples:
You might be surprised at what kind of discounts your employer offers, and not just on their own products. My ex-boyfriend’s previous place of employment offered amazing deals – sometimes 75 per cent off MSRP – with an assortment of different companies under the same umbrella organization. We were able to receive deep discounts on hiking, camping, and sporting gear that would have cost us thousands of dollars to buy elsewhere. Plus, we would get to pick and choose from the imperfect products that never reached store shelves.
A previous employer of mine offered discounts on certain hotel chains and car rentals – which would have been very beneficial to me come vacation time… had I actually taken the time to research the discounts offered to employees before I left the company. :|
Flexible work schedule
Many organizations offer options other than the typical 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. workday. Being able to plan your work schedule around your life to some degree is a huge benefit. Especially to parents, and those considering a family in the future.
Your company might also offer compressed schedules – where you work your 40 hour work week in less days in order to get more days off. The most typical example is working 80 hours during nine business days. My mom works on this schedule, and she is also allowed to bank her extra days off!
The ability to work from home is also a perk coveted by many employees. Nothing beats saving money on gas, cutting out the crazy commute, being around your family, and working the entire day in your sweatpants.
Professional development and training
A lot of times, your boss will have a professional development budget set aside for each employee. This can be used for work-related seminars and training courses as it pertains to your job.
This can be extremely useful to help build your skills as an employee during one-off courses, or towards certifications and diplomas over a longer period of time.
A friend of mine gets a travel budget each year to go to seminars of her choice. Not only does she increase her knowledge as an employee, but she is also able to travel throughout North America. Another friend of mine had her master’s degree program partially funded by her employer – something she wouldn’t have been able to afford otherwise.
If your employer currently does not offer professional development opportunities, it might be worth bringing up with your boss. Not only does it show initiative and an interest in your job and in the company, but the extra knowledge and experience gained will improve your worth as an employee.
I was extremely fortunate with my previous job, because I was able to travel several times a year throughout North America. If I happened to be traveling to a city I’ve never been to before, I make it a point to tack on a few extra days of vacation to the end of my trip. It’s an inexpensive way to travel, because the company pays for the flight there – which is usually the most expensive part of the trip. Last year, I went down to New Orleans on business, and my sister even flew down to spend an extra 3 days exploring the city with me.
Miscellaneous perks around the office
Sometimes we take for granted what we have, until we move to a new job and all of a sudden the office perks that we were used to are no longer there. A few miscellaneous perks I’ve had over the years are:
- Free gym membership
- Games room and lounge area
- Free coffee, tea, filtered water
- Frequent department catered lunches
- Car allowance
- Bonus or free vacation day on your birthday
- Monthly wine and cheese parties
Remember that your salary, vacation and extended benefits are a part of your compensation package, but so are the other perks of your job. By not taking advantage of them, you are potentially giving up on hundreds of dollars each year that you could be saving or utilizing.
Fully understanding and utilizing all of the perks you are entitled to will most likely go a long way to improve your health, quality of life and happiness. And that’s something both you and your employer can benefit from.