When employees don’t use their benefits, both employers and employees lose.
From an employer’s perspective, offering a robust benefits package requires diligent planning and a large budget. After investing resources and time to offer benefits that will attract and retain top talent, the last thing a company wants is their employees underutilizing their benefits.
For employees, failure to understand, be aware of, or use benefits can lead to money left on the table or situations where they have to foot the bill for expenses that might have been covered. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the cost of benefits amounts to about 30% of total compensation on average.
Here are some helpful tips to make sure employees make the most of their benefits:
1. Talk to your coworkers and HR department
Peers, especially those who have been with the company for a while, can be a great resource about available benefits. For more specific questions, reaching out to HR can give you the right information to navigate your available resources and how to take advantage of them.
2. Be proactive about preventive care
Health, dental, and vision insurance alleviate the burden of high healthcare costs, which is why it’s important to take advantage of these benefits, even if you feel healthy. Getting annual checkups is integral to ensuring our overall health.
3. Know the ins and outs of FSAs and HSAs
Though insurance helps cover a lot of healthcare expenses, it doesn’t cover everything. Out-of-pocket medical, dental, and vision expenses can quickly add up. If your employer offers a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or Health Savings Account (HSA), be sure to take advantage of them. Both of these options set aside pretax dollars to cover qualified health expenses, and oftentimes, employers will match contributions. There are some similarities between both options, but also some key differences. Be sure to educate yourself and determine which option is best for you.
4. Use your PTO perks
If you have paid time off (PTO), use it. In 2020 alone, Americans didn’t use 33% of their available vacation time, which amounts to billions of dollars. This is time that you’ve earned and that can help you avoid burnout - don’t let it go to waste!
5. Take stock of 401k options
If your company offers a 401k plan, contribute to it. It’s best to start saving for retirement as early as possible, though it’s never too late to start. Contribute whatever your employer will match, as this is free money that should not be left on the table. Over time, this investment will be instrumental to reaching your retirement goals.
6. Find out if your company offers an ESPP
If you work for a publicly-traded company, they might offer an employee stock purchase plan (ESPP) that allows employees to buy stocks at a discount. This can be a good way to start investing.
7. Take advantage of education and training resources
Be on the lookout for tuition reimbursement and education assistance. This is free money that you can use for personal growth. Oftentimes, employers will cover the cost of certifications, workshops, trainings, and more. It’s important to learn and understand any commitments to the company that might be tied to these benefits, like having to stay with the company for a certain amount of time after the education is paid for and completed.
8. Use your commuter benefits
If you use public transit to get to work or pay for work parking, commuter benefits can alleviate some of this cost. Funds are deducted on a pretax basis every month to pay for commuting costs related to getting to and from work.
9. Learn about discounts on products and services
Who doesn’t like to save money? Some companies have corporate discount programs that grant employees access to reduced prices on various goods and services, like gym memberships and amusement parks. Find out if this is something available where you work.
10. Look at all your insurance options
Beyond health, vision, and dental, many companies offer other insurance options, such as life insurance, disability insurance, long-term care, and critical illness insurance. Depending on your circumstances and anticipated needs, knowing all options available to you can grant you financial protection and peace of mind.
11. Tap into employee assistance programs
More and more employers are offering programs that help their employees get through personal challenges, including support for substance abuse, emotional distress, and personal counseling. No one anticipates needing help with these issues, but if needed, tapping into available resources can help you weather the storm.
This list isn’t exhaustive, and every company offers different benefits. It’s important for employees to stay up to date about what their company offers and for employers to educate and empower employees to use their benefits.
This material has been prepared for informational purposes only. BRP Group, Inc. and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal, or accounting advice. Please consult with your own tax, legal or accounting professionals before engaging in any transaction.