How well do you know your employee benefits? Maybe not so well. While 80 percent of employees say they understand their benefits very well, only 49 percent actually do.1 Many companies invest in workplace benefits that both protect the employee and offer a financial advantage through pre-tax incentives. Of course, medical plans and workplace retirement accounts are the most well-known of these add-ons, but there are others that can count for a lot that you should keep an eye out for during the onboarding process. Below are some of the workplace benefits you may have missed, from the more obvious to the most obscure.
The Well-Known Extras
Many companies round out their medical plans with vision and dental offerings. And because firms have an interest in protecting their employees, disability and life insurance are often on the table. Some employers automatically give you a level of protection at no cost to you, while others require that you actively opt in. The combination of comprehensive health, disability, and life insurance is the go-to safeguard for when you get sick, or worse. Because companies offer protection at lower rates, this is a bargain for employees, and workplace benefits are a good place to start building a foundation.
The Cost of Getting Sick
While disability income insurance is the standard when it comes to replacing lost income, some employers offer additional layers of financial protection, often referred to as supplemental disability insurance, which can cover bonuses, commissions, and other payments that may not be covered by basic insurance. Medical plans are a good base of protection, but they won’t cover the increasingly high out-of-pocket costs of getting sick, such as deductibles and co-pays for scans, treatments, hospitalization, and prescriptions. You may also have extra bills for transportation, child care, and additional expenses that come with being sick. Meanwhile, typical disability plans tend to cover only 60 percent of your salary.2 Your workplace benefits may have available opt-in policies - usually paid for with a relatively affordable deduction from each paycheck - that can help round out your coverage.
Finding Extra Protection
These opt-in policies, available to help cover gaps in traditional coverage, include critical illness insurance, accident insurance, cancer insurance, and hospital indemnity insurance. These are generically called supplemental health insurance products. In general, you receive a lump sum depending upon the specific treatment of an illness or accident. Some critical illness plans offer upward of $50,000 for a qualifying event.3 Because the check comes to you, not the doctor or hospital, you decide how to spend the money. It’s best to check with your employer on the specifics of these workplace benefits.
Help When You Need It
Did you know a lot of companies include advisory services in their workplace benefits plans? Only about one in 10 employees take advantage of these services - surprising when you consider that expert advice is often pricey.4 Advisory services can range from nurses on call and family counseling to help with college admissions and complimentary legal advice. If you need help with taking care of special-needs children, elderly family members, relocation, adoption, alcohol and substance abuse, and out-of-the-ordinary events that have a way of cropping up in life, the phone may be your answer. Your benefits administrator will be able to provide you with information on what your company offers.
Get Paid to Learn
Are you looking to develop your skills and maybe increase your paycheck? Some companies encourage employees to pursue higher education by offering tuition reimbursement. If you have access to one of these programs, consider it a free upgrade of your employability.
Looking Closer Can Pay
When your job offers workplace benefits, why not explore a little? From better protection to better training, they’re called “employee benefits” for good reason.
2 Kristen Monaco, “Disability insurance plans: trends in employee access and employer costs,” Feb. 2015
3 The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America "Critical Illness Insurance Helps You Focus on Recovery, Not Finances" 2017