6 Unique Employee Perks to Consider

on 12/14/2018

When you get a new job, it's easy to focus on benefits like health insurance and retirement options. While those are the major employee benefits from working a 9-to-5, there are other employee perks to think about. If you're on the hunt for a new job, consider these six benefits.

1. Paid time off during the holidays

When I was fresh out of college, I worked for a non-profit that gave us two weeks of paid vacation during the holidays. We worked on the school calendar, so since the schools were closed, so were we. Instead of being without a paycheck, the CEO decided to pay us for that time. We didn't have to use any of our personal days or vacation days. It was a great perk to end the year on.

When you're presented with time off as an employee, it can be with mixed feelings. On one hand, it's great to get time off. But if your employer doesn't pay for that time off, you can start to dread certain holidays as that cuts directly into your paycheck. So be sure to ask what the paid time off policy is for the holidays. This can mean for all of the holidays from MLK day to Veteran's Day, Christmas to New Year's.

Having paid time off for holidays is a perk that helps you retain your vacation time and lets you avoid worries about whether you will get paid or not.

2. Student loan reimbursement

Ask any millennial what one of their main financial worries is and you're likely to hear "student loans". Many millennials are saddled with student loan debt and that can affect their quality of life as well as their overall financial picture.

Companies are starting to catch onto this and offer student loan payment or reimbursement as part of the employee benefits package.

Fidelity Investments, Live Nation, and Penguin Random House are all companies that offer student loan assistance programs. Many of the companies listed in this Glassdoor article on student loan repayment programs offer assistance up to around $10,000.

While that may not pay off your student loans completely, it's certainly a perk that can help free up some of your day-to-day money, instead of having it all go toward your monthly student loan payments.

For this perk, you want to know if your employer offers a match, a reimbursement, or if they will make payments to your loan servicer. Also, ask about the maximum amount available and any terms and conditions to qualify.

3. Transportation assistance

If most major cities, public transportation is a way of life. What's also a way of life is that the costs to take public transportation keep rising and taking a greater chunk of your money. Some employers may offer a free or discounted metro card that can be part of your employee perks.

Not having to pay the full brunt of this cost can be helpful. Aside from free or discounted public transportation passes, there could also be free parking at your job that can help lower costs.

4. Meals provided on site

I remember when my friend got a job at a startup and was raving about free lunches, happy hours, and tons of snacks. I was immediately jealous. It brought me back to when I was a non-profit employee, and any time there was food—most likely from an event—we'd be waiting in the kitchen like vultures to see if we could get some.

Nowadays, many startups and other companies are offering some meals and other food and beverages on site. Considering that most lunches out cost around $10, this employee perk can add up. Aside from the financial cost, it can also help free up some time and decision-making. No need to pack a lunch the night before or rush to throw something together as you run out the door.

No need to wonder where you'll eat lunch, review the menu a million times and try to find something that sounds good and is in your budget.

Having meals, snacks, coffee on site can definitely help reduce food spending and free up some time and energy as well.

5. Gym membership

Many employers offer health insurance to their employees. Because of that, it also pays for them to keep you healthy and well. It makes sense that some employers would provide a gym membership. It could reduce their health costs and can help you stay healthy and fit.

You will want to see if this is an option and if so, ask if there are any restrictions. For example, is it at one particular gym? Is it a reimbursement up to a certain amount? Is it a stipend?

Getting health and wellness assistance, whether through a gym membership or something else can add to the value of your employee benefits package and help get you to the gym!

6. Educational training

You can give your best to a job when you're constantly learning and staying on top of your skills. Employers know this and sometimes offer educational training. This may mean they'll cover you going back to school or pay you to take workshops or get specific certifications. All of this paid education can keep your skills fresh, all at no cost to you.

Bottom line

If you're looking for a job, know there are more things to look at than just salary. These six perks can add to the total value of your compensation. Some may mean more than others to you but they add to your salary either way. So when you're reviewing jobs or in the interview process, ask about these additional employee perks.