How Can You Make Sure You're Getting the Most Out of Your Employee Benefits?

By Myles Leva


Last Updated: April 8, 2023


Employee benefits normally go beyond health insurance and some retirement planning.

Many employees have access to a wide range of financial and healthcare services. The only issue is that many employees aren’t aware of how to maximize their benefits.

Employee perks can include a wide range of benefits, including dental care, mental health care, and financial advice.

According to a comprehensive survey conducted by Businessolver, almost one-third of employees are confused by their benefits packages. This confusion normally centers around enrollment processes and ensuring they receive all available benefits.

Are you among the one in three Americans that doesn’t know exactly what benefits you have access to?

In this article, we will:

  • Explain how to get the most out of your employee benefits
  • Give some tips about improving your benefits package
  • Impart some negotiations wisdom


How do I get the most out of my benefits?

The most basic and direct starting point is a full review of your employer’s benefits package.

They have already laid out which benefits some employees qualify for, which includes some mix of:

  • Medical insurance
  • Dental
  • Retirement plans
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Flexible working arrangements

When you see a benefit laid out, the next step is to gain some clarity. If you have any questions about what you see, don’t hesitate to ask HR or your supervisor. Employees often need some help to understand their available benefits and the relevant enrollment processes.

After that, the only question is whether you will take full advantage of your benefits.

Many employees do understand some of their benefits, but fail to take advantage of them. For example, if a gym membership is on the table, you need to be willing to actually go regularly to benefit from the offer.

Other benefits for your physical and mental health are there so you can improve your health and be a more reliable employee. But being healthy is a benefit in itself, and it directly leads to lower healthcare expenses later in life.

Other benefits produce different types of mental roadblocks for employees who may want to claim them.

Some retirement or flexible spending accounts may produce an opportunity for significant savings. But you need to know not only how to enroll, but how to personally take responsibility for maximizing the account’s benefits.

Even after unlocking the full power of your benefits, you will need to take some time to manage them going forward.

Also, employers make changes to their benefits packages. So, make sure you review your benefits and the available benefits from time to time. An annual “checkup” is normally all you really need to stay on top of them.



How can I improve my employee benefits package?

Once you’ve done all of the above, you just need to set priorities and make sure you’re truly getting the greatest possible benefits.


Retirement plans are some of the most important benefits.

But as an employee, you have some control over how your retirement benefits work.

You may want to consider increasing your employee contributions. But this requires you to do the math yourself to find out whether it’s worth it. Under many plans, it makes sense to maximize your own contributions for both tax savings and maximizing employer contributions.


Retirement and health-related benefits are among the most popular and easily understood.

But you can’t overlook available flexible spending accounts and other benefits.

Flexible spending accounts enable you to spend pre-taxed dollars on eligible healthcare expenses. If your employer offers such a plan, don’t overlook it because the math is on your side.


Lastly, while we’ve already said it, make sure you ask questions if you are at all confused.

Your supervisor or HR colleagues should be able to clarify all of these considerations for you.

Beyond this, the only way to actually improve your benefits package beyond what was in the fine print when you started is to ask for more. In some cases negotiating is the last step to maximizing employee benefits.


How do I negotiate a better benefits package?

Negotiating can be intimidating if you’re shy or haven’t negotiated before.

Trying to squeeze more benefits out of some employers can be a stressful process, too.

Take a few steps to make the negotiating process better for you.


The first step for successful negotiations is showing up prepared.

You must know what is on offer, what isn’t, and what constitutes reasonable expectations for someone in your position.

Fortunately, the internet makes this kind of research easier. The rest can be found out through conversations with colleagues. If a co-worker in your position was able to negotiate better benefits, you can arm yourself with those facts to maximize employee benefits.


This leads to the second point, which is asking questions clearly and specifically with confidence.

Be clear about what you want and why you think you should have it. This confidence and clarity make it easier to make your voice heard while appearing reasonable. It’s just a bit harder to say “no” outright.


Third, you need to know your value.

It’s not just about asking for some benefits that your co-workers have.

You may be in a position to ask for more than they do (or less). Knowing your relative skillset and the value you bring to your company gives you bargaining chips. Bring up any unique value you provide to the company to make a stronger case.


Fourth, recognize that you can’t always get what you want.

But if you try sometimes, you get something else. Negotiation is a give-and-take process, so be ready to compromise to find a mutually beneficial arrangement.


Lastly, once you come to such an arrangement, get it set in stone.

Collect receipts, get it in writing, and don’t walk away with nothing but empty promises.

This ensures that you and your employer have a clear understanding and no one side is unpleasantly surprised due to mismatched expectations.



Conclusions: What health benefits do employees value most?

Everything we’ve gone over can be applied to any kind of employee benefit. But there are a few health benefits that are worth special attention. Find out if your employer offers these benefits, and get yourself an adequate package:

  • Health insurance
  • Dental insurance
  • Vision insurance
    • Routine eye exams
    • Glasses/contacts
    • Corrective surgeries
  • Mental health benefits
    • Counseling
    • Therapy
    • Medication
  • Wellness
    • Gym memberships
    • Nutrition guidance
    • Programs for quitting smoking or other unhealthy habits


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