Landing a great job with awesome pay is a lovely dream. But reality can be a bit different. Great jobs often come with less-than-stellar pay. Jobs that pay really well may bring no joy.
Keep in mind, though, that pay is only one part of the package. And, although a 401(k) or other retirement plan with a full matching employer contribution is the gold standard for benefits, there are other benefits that can make a big difference to your happiness and financial well-being.
Here are benefits, besides a retirement plan, to look for when you are shopping for a job.
1. Child care help
Child care assistance can be a major stress reducer for parents, allowing them to focus better on work.
This assistance may be in the form of flextime or working from home (see No. 2, below).
Some companies go a step further, however. Find out if the company you are considering offers on-site child care or offers a stipend to use at a child care facility of your choice.
Driving an hour or more each way between home and work gets exhausting. And the time you spend commuting isn’t covered by your salary.
So, when you interview for a job, see if a company offers flextime. The Balance explains:
“Flextime allows employees to customize their schedules within a certain range of hours and days.”
Working from home is one type of flextime. Gallup, in this 2017 article, cites research on employee retention and engagement, saying:
“Flexibility, such as that offered through remote working, can attract and retain top talent, deepen employees’ connections to their organization and reduce real estate costs. Having a flexible workplace can also help to improve employees’ productivity and performance, attitudes and satisfaction, engagement and well-being, innovation and creativity, stress and burnout, absenteeism, and work-family conflict.”
The definition of flextime and how it works varies by employer, so get the details of a company’s policy.
An alternative for job seekers: Get a work-from-home job and avoid commuting entirely.
3. Paid family leave
The Family Medical Leave Act allows up to 12 workweeks of job-protected, unpaid leave to care for a new child or ailing family member and more time for service members or their family. But it has limitations:
- For one, the time off is unpaid.
- Secondly, it applies only to companies of 50 or more employees.
- Also, there’s the relatively brief length of time allowed. One former president of the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends at least six to nine months of leave when caring for a new child.
Some companies offer a paid family leave benefit. A company may pay your full salary or just a portion. The amount of paid time off varies, too. Netflix, which is an unusual example, gives employees up to a year of parental leave at full pay.
4. Tuition assistance
When a company values you, it may work with you to develop your skills and help you learn new ones.
Company-paid continuing education, training and tuition assistance are ways some employers help employees hone their expertise. A company may reimburse for classes, for example. The classes and certification programs allowed typically are to build work-related skills. At Starbucks, all full- and part-time employees can receive 100% tuition coverage for their first bachelor’s degree, through Arizona State University’s online program.
5. Health insurance for spouse and dependents
Having everyone in your family covered by one workplace health-insurance plan minimizes stress and may help bring down costs.
Look for a company offering 100% coverage for all of your dependents. Talk with a human resources representative during your interview about the details of the plans a company is offering.
6. Wellness stipend
Some employers offer wellness stipends and plans that encourage self-care and wellness.
Wellness programs can include a variety of perks. A few examples include yoga classes, a gym membership, medical screenings and chair massages. Some companies offer in-office lunches to provide employees with healthier food options. Others offer employees sit-stand desks, encouraging them to move.
7. Performance-based bonuses
It’s nice to be recognized when you do something great. But not all companies have programs for rewarding employee performance.
Look for a company that recognizes performance, teamwork and contributions toward shared goals through, for example, a quarterly bonus for completing a project or sprint. Or an annual bonus when you’ve proven your value. Ask prospective employers how they reward performance.