Enjoy Life, Save Money – Use your Work Job Perks!

Many companies institute various levels of employee job perks as part of their benefits packages.  Job perks add to employee job satisfaction and engagement. Although some benefits are fairly standard, such as a certain number of vacation or sick days, health benefits, flexible spending plans and defined contribution plans, there may be others that are specific to your industry, level and the company.

You can often take advantage of these to save money away from work or grab some gusto during work.

Why do companies offer perks?

The February 2012 issue of Entrepreneur magazine quoted a Harvard Business Review study done in 2010 which found that at Best Buy, a 0.1 percent increase in employee engagement drove $100,000 in operating income to the bottom line of each store per year.  Employee engagement includes a lot of things such as personal fulfillment, career advancement, recognition and perks.   If you have, and use company job perks, you may be less tempted to look around for other employment, you may be more satisfied with your job and work a bit harder – or so the theory goes.

Who gets company perks?

Many job perks are available to the entire employee population while others may be offered to select groups – such as executive management or client facing sales staff, or even just to those in the know.

In some companies, some perks are not widely visible.  Reading examples of some of the perks I found along the way in my own career may help you find and use more of the perks available at your company – or give you ideas on things for which to negotiate if you can’t get a monetary raise.

What are examples of visible not so visible company perks?

These are real examples of perks I have either enjoyed or seen others enjoy.

Free financial plan.

When I worked as a programer for a mutual fund company, one of the perks was a free financial plan – developed by a financial planner in the company.  This included a consult as well.

Free first class flight to England.

I worked for TWA prior to it’s demise. One of the well know perks of airline employment is the ability to fly free.  One of the not so well know perks was that if you had perfect attendance for a full year (i.e. took no sick days) you received a first class ticket to where ever you wanted to go for you and your immediate family.  I took my family to London in first class on an L1011!

Free to use PC

Our director at TWA felt strongly that the mainframe computer programers (that would be me) needed to learn about personal computers (this was the 1980’s).  He managed to budget for a PC for each of his staff to use at home – dialing in to the work mainframe computer to do after hours work.  My kid learned to program on that lender PC.

Free 3 Star Hotel Rooms

As a client facing project manager at one job, I traveled frequently on business trips.  Of course I signed up with each airline and hotel for points.  One year, my spouse and I went to Park City, Utah and stayed in the Marriott – nestled right up to the mountains – free courtesy of our points.

Here is a list of some of the other work perks I have experienced:

  • A bigger cube by the window, a display phone, a bigger, faster PC with a bigger monitor than most had
  • Half price symphony tickets
  • Free amusement park passes for the whole family once a year
  • Employee pricing on new cars
  • Rental car discounts
  • Free ticket to pro football games
  • Client entertainment perks – company paid meals in very expensive restaurants, tours of local attractions, etc
  • College classes – reimbursed by the company
  • Free tickets to local area entertainment venues such as the international speedway, when not used for clients
  • Free league bowling, including shoe rental

How can you get clued in to invisible work perks?

Take on special responsibilities requiring special equipment (such as a bigger, faster PC with a better monitor – I got one simply because I once coded in C++ instead of COBOL).

Make friends with people higher up in the food chain – executives often know about (and get) perks the rest of the company doesn’t have.

Do a really great job and take on increasing levels of responsibility – you may be rewarded with some of those invisible rewards (I, as a manager, occasionally recommended a cash award for some associates.  Other times I got to pick certain staff members to get ball tickets or go to a special entertainment event).

Talk to your fellow workers.  Hang out with them in the lunch room.  Go across the street after work for a beer.  Find out what they do after hours, you may find that they are involved in some activity that the company is actively supporting. That is how I found out about the company paid bowling league.

Negotiate.  At one job I worked hard and earned some extra perks, but then had to change areas within the company due to a contract ending.  The new area didn’t want to extend the same perks to me because they didn’t give them to the others at my title level.  I negotiated keeping them and ended up hundreds of thousands of dollars richer over the years because of that negotiation.

Show an interest in furthering your education and skills.  I was selected by the boss to attend (company paid) a specially designed corporate course held at a quality university for employees from multiple companies in the area.  It was a really great class and led me to build a bigger network within the company and across the city.

Work with your clients.  If you have a client facing job, you probably will be called on to entertain your clients.  Lunches, dinners and ballgames are fairly typical, but you could also explore the possibility of doing something different with them.  At one job, to heal a poor client relationship, I saw the manager work with the client to find interesting and fun activities to help bond with each other.  They did things such as go to the zoo and ride around on Segways, tour a local steamboat museum, drive go carts and etc.  This did work to help heal the relationship.

Get to know the people who reserve company seats at various events – for client entertainment purposes.  These venues are usually reserved at the start of the year so that the company will have the ability to use them for client entertainment purposes.  Sometimes the seats aren’t used and the company will let employees use them.  My brother-in-law knew the administrative assistant who made the reservations and was able to get tickets to the speedway for his family to use – because they were already reserved and weren’t going to be used for client entertainment. Of course, he was also a Vice-President so that might have helped too.

Using these perks saved and earned money for me, made my life at work and at home more pleasant and enabled my family to do things we would not otherwise have done.

These are just a few perks out there. There were probably many others that remained invisible to me.  Other industries would have different kinds of perks.

What job perks does your company offer?  How do you take advantage of them?

This post was written by Marie.


Comments

Enjoy Life, Save Money – Use your Work Job Perks! — 7 Comments

  1. I guess further education is the most rewarding job perks. Google provides 1 free day to people to work on their own interest. This kind of perk not only encourages employee it is also good for company if employees do come up with some innovative products.

  2. I’m a temporary employee so I don’t get any perks at all, but the company I work for offers 5 weeks of vacation time to start each year. It goes up from there.

  3. At my old company, we had some pretty great perks. Probably the best was a health care spending account amounting to over $1000/year which we could use for any health related expense that our actual health benefits wouldn’t cover.

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