Don’t Waste the Employee Benefits your Company Gives You – Here’s How to Maximise Them
Think about your job. Is there anything good about it besides the pay? If your answer is no, you’re wrong, even if your boss is the devil incarnate and the work as exciting as trying to memorise the phone directory. While not exactly the silver lining in your dark cloud, there are some company benefits you’ve been receiving month after month, probably without realising or enjoying them. Here’s how to make the most of them.
After going through all that trouble to interview and train you, your company doesn’t really want you to get yourself killed, so you’re probably receiving at least basic medical benefits. These might include a medical insurance policy, the use of a company doctor and the ability to make claims for medical costs.
Instead of complaining about how expensive it is to fall sick in Singapore, make sure you take full advantage of the medical benefits your company gives you. Don’t chuck your insurance policy into your drawer on the first day at work, only to retrieve it in tatters when you finally resign.
Read through your policy and know exactly what you are entitled to. For instance, are you allowed to claim full costs if you get hospitalised? Does your policy give you additional coverage for personal accidents or is it entirely medical? In an emergency you want to know what you can and can’t make a claim for.
I have a friend who got into a motorcycle accident and broke his leg but refused to let passersby call an ambulance. If he’d actually read his company’s medical insurance policy things might have been different.
Visits to the doctor
If you get to use a company doctor free of charge, then you need to ask yourself why you’re suffering at your desk with snot dripping all over the keyboard when you can get some medication free of charge.
Some companies give their employees an annual medical allowance that is capped at a certain amount. In the last few months of the year, if you still have a lot remaining, use what’s left of yours by scheduling a check up or getting your teeth cleaned at the dentist, if the allowance covers dental treatment as well.
Finally, if your company will cover the cost of health screenings or vaccinations, make sure you take full advantage of them.
Surprisingly, when offered free check ups, many employees at my last job said they would rather not know if they’d been stricken with some terminal disease and declined the offer. If someone had told them that refusing a free health screening is tantamount to throwing away free money they might have changed their tune.
Many companies offer transport allowance to employees who work late or are on the graveyard shift. For instance, bank employees who work London or New York hours get free cab rides home. In addition, many firms let employees claim the cost of a taxi ride home if they work beyond a certain hour, usually around 9pm.
I’m not exactly encouraging you to have dinner at the office and wait around until 9pm every day unless you have nothing better to do with your time.
But if you have a legitimate reason for being at the office late, first do a little dance to celebrate the fact that you will not be joining the other minions on the MRT, and then devise a plan to make the most of your taxi ride. Here are some ways you can do so:
- Offer friends who live near you a ride home.
- If you haven’t had dinner, get the driver to make a pit-stop somewhere you can get takeaway.
- If you need to return books to the library, drop some mail into a post box or pass something to a friend at home, your driver can do all that and then get you home.
If you’re one of the lucky few who get to work from home once a month, try not to get fired, cause that’s a benefit you’re not going to find at many other companies.
That being said, work-from-home day can be a double-edged sword.
On the one hand, there’s so much potential! If you know how to use it, it can feel like getting an entire day off.
On the other hand, if you screw it up, you’ll find yourself sweating it out in front of the computer at 11pm still in your pyjamas from the day before.
Work-from-home day can be a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing for those who know how to use it well. Unfortunately, as employees who are used to having their day planned out for them by the exigencies of the office, most people have no idea how to make the most of an entirely free day.
The answer is to schedule ruthlessly.
Since you won’t be wasting time commuting, you should aim to be done with work at least 2 hours earlier than usual, unless you have errands to run during the day.
If you’re not sleeping in, aim to start work by the time you would typically be leaving the house to get to work. Silence your phone and get rid of all distractions like Facebook—time wasters are pointless when you’re working from home, since you won’t be stuck at the office if you finish early.
If you’re really disciplined, you might find you’re able to finish work as early as 2pm without having to exchange pleasantries with colleagues or search for a place to have lunch. If you can do that, you’ve effectively won half a day’s worth of leave.
To put things in perspective, someone with a $4,000 a month salary earns about $200 a day. Getting a half a day off is equivalent to earning $100 to do nothing.
At the end of the day, the benefits your company provides you are there out of goodwill, and a want to take care of you and the rest of your colleagues. Abusing these privileges will only end in disaster. That being said, it’s also up to you to utilise them in a way that will help to save you money and time as well, so use them wisely and don’t just ignore them!
How else can you maximise your employee benefits? Let us know in the comments!