Originally authored by Abby Wolfe at The Muse
There are plenty of things you aim to get out of your job. A paycheck, of course. Opportunities to learn and grow. Solid bonds with your team members. Rewarding tasks and responsibilities.
But, let’s face it—the benefits certainly don’t hurt either.
In order to keep top talent, companies have added more and more programs and perks that employees can take advantage of. That’s awesome, but it also means that your benefits are a little more challenging to navigate.
Sure, you know you have the basics like paid time off and health insurance. But, what else? How can you figure out what’s available so you can actually make the most of everything that’s being offered to you?
We have three different ways you can get the lowdown on your employee benefits.
1. Refer Back to Your New Hire Paperwork
Remember that thick stack of papers and pamphlets you were handed on your first day? Whether you’re a newbie in the office or you’ve been there for years, I’m willing to bet those booklets are collecting dust in your bottom drawer or serving as a permanent coaster at the corner of your desk.
While wading through a bunch of jargon and fine print might not sound like your idea of fun, there’s actually a ton of information in there that can be useful. Wondering if your company offers a discount on gym memberships? Flip through that paperwork to see if there are any details about that program.
Even if you can’t find the exact answers you’re looking for, taking this step means you’ll at least be able to ask more informed questions if and when you need to approach someone else in the office for help.
2. Talk to Your Co-workers
Your colleagues—especially the ones who have been there for a while—can be a well of knowledge when it comes to the variety of benefits your company offers. After all, they’re the ones who are actually using them, so they should be able to give you the lowdown.
Chatting with your co-workers is great for a few reasons. First, it’s low-pressure. You can simply start a conversation about your company’s employee assistance program while you’re all enjoying lunch or a cup of coffee together. Secondly, it’s a great way to get the inside scoop. Your team members can give you a firsthand account of what those benefits are and how the process works—which is often way easier to understand than the summary included in your benefits booklet.
So, don’t hesitate to ask your colleagues to dish out some details about your benefits. Chances are, they’ll be more than happy to.
3. Ask Your HR Department
Your fellow employees can be a great resource. But, if you have very specific questions about certain benefits, it’s usually best to approach your HR department. They’re there to answer questions just like these, too.
Wondering how you should go about submitting for a gym membership discount? Unsure of the first step in getting support when you’re going through a hard time? Are you trying to figure out the time-off protocol over the holidays? Bring those questions to your HR rep. They’ll be able to get you the information you need and walk you through step by step.
Employee benefits are awesome, but it can also be deceptively complicated to figure out what you have and how to take advantage of it. Plus, it's easy to feel nervous when asking about them—like you’re giving the impression that you’re only in your career for the perks.
Here’s the thing, though: Those benefits exist so that you can actually use them. You should be taking advantage of them.
Lean on the above three resources to get the details you need on the different benefits that are available to you, and you’re sure to soak up all of the amazing things your job has to offer—beyond a paycheck.