Employees

Advice for Employees

What's the Big Idea?

When it comes to making choices about benefits, keep it simple, says Bruce Finley, Senior Partner and the Director of Global Workplace Communication at Mercer -- and calculate, calculate, calculate. If we're willing to do the math and put the time in to making informed decisions about the big stuff, the little things become less important and less time-consuming.  

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What's the Significance?

The choices we make about benefits are personal and emotional. They force us to ask uncomfortable questions, and sometimes, to face uncomfortable truths. (Can I really afford to retire this year, or should I postpone it until next year?) As an employee, you should be willing to ask your employer for help understanding the full implications of your options in a rational way. A good employer will lay out all the options clearly, simply, and empathetically, says Finley.  

Before making any decision about benefits, ask yourself these three questions:

1. Should you participate or not -- and up to what level? 

The answer is usually yes -- get involved, and save as much as you can possibly afford to. Many employers will offer to match whatever contribution you make to your retirement savings plan, for instance. Take them up on it.

2. How much does this cost you?

Sit down and calculate the monthly cost of your benefits -- how much do you need to be putting away each month for retirement? How much do you pay for medical care? "Often people over-insure themselves," says Finley. "They get a plan that’s maybe got too rich benefits compared to how much they’re using..." Consider whether a more streamlined plan would be a better value for you. T

3. What's the right way to participate?

Put your investments in a balanced program, says Finley. You can do that by choosing a retirement fund that's target-based and self-invest for you. When it comes to your healthcare coverage, research how to get the best reimbursement for the conditions that you're going to be involved in. Again, take the time to calculate which plan is right for you, rather than just guessing -- you could end up saving yourself a significant amount of money. 

Image courtesy of Shutterstock/Yuri Arcurs

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