Returning to work? Here’s how to evaluate the employee package

When considering a job offer, many of us may focus our attention on one thing: the salary. When in fact, often, this is just one part of the entire package.

To understand the total value of a job offer, it’s important to look beyond the salary and consider the benefits, perks, and intangible bonuses that may be included as part of a compensation package.

These additional benefits can add considerable value to the overall offering and are often a key reason that many employees accept — or decline — a job offer.

In this blog, we’ll take a look at some of the key elements to look out for when evaluating an employee package, so you can make an informed decision.

Determining what matters most

Before we dive into the various benefits, it’s important to take a step back & reflect on what matters most to you.

Are you planning to start or expand your family and want a strong maternity/paternity policy? Do you need a flexible schedule to care for family members?

Or maybe you’re interested in developing your skill set in the future and need access to professional development opportunities.

These are all personal decisions that your job’s compensation package can impact. Knowing up front what matters most to you and what you need will go a long way toward evaluating different options.

To help you create a “career priorities list”, we recommend considering the following:

  • Think ahead. Think about which benefits will matter most in the long term rather than what feels most attractive right now.
  • Look for opportunities for growth in addition to financial and other benefits.
  • Consider the net value of all monetary benefits and expenses. Fringe benefits, such as life cover, income continuance or employer pension contributions, might not be seen in your take-home pay but are invaluable.

Common items included in a compensation package

Paid Leave

Many employees prefer jobs with a good work-life balance and ample paid time off (PTO). In fact, according to 2021 FlexJobs survey, 82% of working parents said work-life balance is the most important factor when considering a new job. With this in mind, find out the exact number of annual leave days the company offers and how they are structured. Check to see if they offer additional paid time off, such as company days or sick days. If you plan on starting or expanding your family, details around their maternity/paternity leave policies will also be important to discuss.

Pension contributions

Company pension contributions are one of the most valuable benefits on the market and are becoming a standard offering among top employers today. If the company does offer this benefit, dig deeper to find out if they offer full or partial matching. And enquire at what percentage of your salary do they cap contributions?

Health/Life Insurance

The health insurance coverage an employer offers can affect the quality of life for you and your family. Find out if the employer offers health insurance and, if so, what level of coverage is included. More importantly, see if there are additional life cover benefits, such as a level of income continuance if you cannot work due to ill health or death in service life cover, which might be of particular interest if you have pre-existing medical conditions.

Professional development

Where your intended career path requires or would benefit from a specific course or qualification, your employer may offer to pay the related fees or offer internal training/upskilling opportunities. This is obviously not a monetary amount that you can take away with you, but it can aid in your general career progression.

Remote/Flexible Working

Remote work has become more popular than ever, especially among younger employees and working parents. Before you accept a job offer, ask if partial or fully remote work is part of the company’s definition of perks. Even if companies don’t offer a WFH option, check to see if they offer flexible hours. If you want a location-independent lifestyle or need to balance work with childcare, you may prefer a compensation package with a lower salary but greater flexibility regarding work location and hours.

Stock options

Some employers offer a type of benefit that allows their employees to earn or purchase stock in the company. But remember, stock options aren’t for everyone. It’s important to consider upfront if this is something you’re open to or interested in. Are you willing to trade some salary now for the possibility of a financial win down the road? How does the vesting schedule impact your overall career plans? These are important questions to ask yourself (and your family) as you review job offers. It’s also important to make sure you understand what types of stock benefits you’re being offered and how they can be redeemed.

Company Perks

As workforces continue to grow and develop, many employers have started offering creative benefits packages to closely target their employees’ unique needs. Examples of common company perks include a company car, gym membership, travel passes, a bike-to-work scheme, on-site childcare, tax-free gift vouchers, etc.

Ready to learn more about how to reap the benefits of your employee package?

You’ll love our latest podcast episode with Niamh De Búrca, Founder & CEO of SproutPlans. Listen to the full episode here.