10 non-salary factors to consider while job-hunting
As the job market improves, workers who have been hunkered down at jobs they may not love — but that they were very grateful simply to have — are starting to put out feelers. One in five workers plans to find a job in the next year, says the Staples Advantage Workplace Index.
Salary is the number one motivator for employees looking for a new gig, but it's hardly the only factor. "Obviously everyone wants as much cash as they can get, but there really is much more to your compensation than just salary," says Laurie Berenson, a pro resume writer and founder of Sterling Career Concepts.
Here are 10 non-salary factors to consider:
1. Health benefits. Employer-sponsored health benefits cost an average of $16,834, reports the Kaiser Family Foundation, but workers only pay an average of $4,823 toward that total. The more money your employer contributes toward your coverage, the more of your paycheck you get to keep.
Try to get the details of the plan to see whether it would require you to change doctors to be enrolled in a high-deductible health plan. HDHPs often save both worker and employer money, but they can be a poor choice if you've got a chronic health condition.
2. Commute. Commuting costs an average of $2,600 per year, and nonproductive hours spent sitting in traffic has been shown to increase stress. Finding a job closer to home or with decent public transportation options could save you hundreds, make you a happier person, and give you more time for activities you actually want to do.
3. Flexibility. Work-life balance is a big buzz term for corporations these days, so it's reasonable to look for a company that supports shifting schedules around things like doctors appointments and snow days. Bonus points if there's an option for telecommuting when needed.
4. Office perks. From foosball tables to in-house yoga studios, companies are rolling out all sorts of perks to keep employees happy while they're on company time and to appear "cool" to potential new hires (and clients). Some benefits — like free lunches — can be worth serious money, while others go a long way toward increasing worker satisfaction.
Sometimes such perks end up being used more for appearances than by employees. During your interview process, note whether you see any workers actually shooting pool or playing Xbox.
5. Corporate culture. Your ability to mesh with your coworkers and your supervisor can be a key driver of workplace success. "Your relationships with the people you are working with are going to impact your opportunity and experience at a job more than any other factor," says career expert Nicole Williams.
6. Health of the company. While the overall economy is improving, there remain certain sectors and some companies that are still on shaky ground. If you think there's a chance your job could be eliminated or the company could go under in the near future, proceed with caution. The job could still be a good opportunity, but make sure that the compensation factors in the risk.
7. Opportunities for advancement. It's common now for workers to have to switch companies to climb the corporate ladder (especially if they're looking for a compensation bump), but it's also worth seeing what opportunities are available in house. Ask about whether the company often promotes from within, or it workers can easily move from one division to another.
8. Retirement benefits. Consider any 401(k) match part of your overall compensation. The average employer contribution toward retirement savings is 4.3 percent of salary (an average of $3,540), says Fidelity. A growing number of companies also offer employees financial planning advice to make sure you're making the most of the investment options you have.
9. Training. In a knowledge economy, adding to your skill set is key to staying relevant and competitive in a job market. Taking a job that offers employee education, whether through a formal program or reimbursement for classes taken on your own, can make a lower salary worth it.
10. Time off. From paid sick leave to unlimited vacation time, having the flexibility to take time when you need it — and the blessing your company to actually take it — will make you a better worker and a happier person.