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How Do Your Employee Benefits Stack Up?

Lindsay Olson

If you're looking for a new job, consider how the company you want to work for stacks up in terms of employee benefits and perks. These days, most companies are offering more than just basic healthcare coverage: Many offer paid maternity leave, work from home options, and/or other perks, like bringing your pet to work. The hiring marketplace is getting more cutthroat as the race to attract the best workers is on. The good news is: you're the winner in the race. As the job market heats up, you should have your pick of jobs and employee perks.

Payscale.com recently put out a Top Tech Employer Comparison, which lends insight into how some of the biggest companies stack up in terms of employee perks. While you may not be offered 3.6 weeks of vacation a year like Facebook provides, you can at least get an idea for what some companies offer in terms of benefits and perks.

Health Insurance Figures in Big

The lowest payer of health insurance expenses on Payscale's list is Nokia, which still covers 85 percent of insurance expenses. At the top of the list: Nvidia, which covers 99 percent of health insurance costs. Dental is similarly covered by those companies. Vision coverage, too, is offered, although the tech companies on the list pay less of the insurance costs: For example, Sony only pays 62 percent of vision insurance.

You as an employee are probably looking for health benefits. Be aware that how much an employer pays will vary from company to company. If your spouse has the health insurance option at his company, you can decide between you which is the better deal in terms of monthly premium amount, medical coverage, co-pay, and deductible.

The Icing on the Cake

Employers are finding other ways to attract new talent, including more vacation or sick time, stock options, and gym memberships. Monster.com offers education reimbursement and life insurance, while HP offers flexible work options and a stock purchase plan to its employees.

The extra perks like these shouldn't be what you use to make the decision to work for a given employer, but they can sway you if you're on the fence. Just keep in mind the real value of these perks and whether or not you would take advantage of them. For example, if an employer offers on-site free day care but your children are school age, that's not a perk you'll get much out of. Or if the company will pay for your cell phone bill, does that mean you have to be available by phone at all times? Consider whether the perk is worth taking at all.

What You Really Want

Let's create a utopian scenario for a moment. You've been offered a job by two companies for the same type of role. You can see yourself working for either company, your only decision is which package makes better sense for your situation. One offers a ton of perks and great insurance, but pays less, while the other has bare bones benefits and pays more. Assess the total value of salary plus benefits to make the decision. Just because one is loaded with "freebies" and benefits doesn't mean it's equal to the difference in salary reduction. On the other hand, if you have a lot of medical expenses in your family, having fuller coverage insurance may be worth the reduction you would have to take in pay. Carefully weigh salary versus the perks you actually want and can use, and assign a value to them to determine which job you should take.

Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs.com, a niche job board for public relations, communications, and social media jobs. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.

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