Beyond the Paycheck: 5 Things to Consider Before You Accept a New Job

When it comes to a job, people want to get paid. It’s an obvious statement that doesn’t necessarily need quantification, but in JUST Capital’s annual survey – which asks the American public what they care about most when it comes to business practices – worker pay and treatment tops the list.

And within the Workers Issue area, two of nine underlying components are pay-related: making a living wage (that covers basic expenses like housing and medical care) and making a fair wage for industry and job level.

But money isn’t the only concern. Americans also value receiving a good benefits package, including things like health insurance options, retirement planning (401k or other), tuition reimbursement, and paid time off via sick, parental, vacation, and bereavement leave policies.

These things may not show up in your bank account, but they have very real financial value and can (and should) certainly factor into a person’s decision about where to work. In fact, 76% of working Americans said that when considering accepting a job, they would opt to work for a more just company – one deemed ethical, honest, and fair – even if it paid less.

Exactly which forms of non-wage compensation matter more than a bigger paycheck will depend on the person, but here are a few worth looking into.

1. Paid Parental Leave

The benefits of having the chance to bond with a new child have been well documented, but taking the time means missing work. And many people don’t have that freedom, as getting paid parental leave is rare. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, only 16% of private-sector workers in 2018 had access to it.

As a result, some people have to take unpaid leave to recover and/or care for a newborn, which can push a lot of people into debt or financial stress.

Companies taking the lead on parental leave include the following:

  • Netflix, which established its unlimited family leave policy in 2015 and eventually extended it to all employees – whether salaried, hourly, frontline, or corporate.
  • Twitter, which has a gender-neutral policy in which any parent of a newborn will get 20 weeks fully paid time off.
  • VMware, which offers 18 weeks of paid leave. And if both parents are employees of the software company, both are entitled to the benefit.

Target made headlines in June 2018, when the company announced that all staff – part-time and full-time hourly, frontline workers – will receive up to four weeks of paid family leave to care for newborns.

2. Day Care Services

Parental leave is one aspect of having a child, but many people eventually return to work. Whether you work full-time or part-time, a company providing onsite child care, or at least support for when care falls through, remains especially attractive.

Salesforce is one example of a company committed to helping employees tend to family needs by providing an onsite child care center, as well as subsidized backup child care in other locations. The company’s headquarters opened its new child care center in partnership with Bright Horizons in 2017, which serves more than 100 Salesforce parents.

3. Paid Time Off

Most companies offer some form of paid time off (PTO), but it’s important to pay attention to the details: Variety and length of PTO policies matter.

Intuit’s package, for example, includes up to five days for bereavement leave, four weeks for taking care of a family member, and up to five weeks of vacation days, depending on years of service. Employees can also cash out a portion of unused vacation time.

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4. Student Loan and Tuition Reimbursement

Student debt can be a heavy burden. It can also be a long-lasting one. In 2019, 45 million student loan borrowers owed $1.6 trillion in federal and private loan debt. The average Bachelor’s degree recipient came out of college with just under $30,000 in debt, and the average loan repayment was $393 per month, with an average repayment term of 16 years.

So, it makes sense that in recent years more companies are investing in their workers by offering tuition reimbursement and other education assistance programs. Leaders include Walmart, Starbucks, and H&R Block, which offer tuition reimbursement to all workers.

McDonald’s has also stepped up in this area: In 2018 – following its windfall from the Tax Cut & Jobs Act – the company announced it would allocate $150 million over five years toward providing almost 400,000 U.S. restaurant employees with accessibility to its education program.

5. Flexible Working Hours

This is an especially popular desire, with up to 90% of the American workforce saying they would like to telework at least part time. Two to three days per week seems to be the sweet spot that allows for a balance of concentrative work (at home) and collaborative work (at the office).

Adobe, in particular, sets itself apart by delineating that employees have the chance to arrange to work from home, have a part-time schedule, and adjust the starting and ending hours of their usual workday.

Other companies promoting work-life balance by providing flexible work schedules include Alphabet, Marriott International, and energy holding company NiSource.

The bottom line: Most people focus on wage rate when considering a new job, but you can’t ignore the financial value of a robust benefits package. Before you accept a job, evaluate what you’re being offered with care. Otherwise you may be leaving money on the table.

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