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3 Workplace Benefits That Could Be Better Than a Raise

The Ascent logo The Ascent 1/12/2022 Maurie Backman
a man and a woman standing in front of a window: A doctor standing in front of a sunny window in her office and speaking with her male patient sitting in a chair. © Getty Images A doctor standing in front of a sunny window in her office and speaking with her male patient sitting in a chair.

There are plenty of good reasons to want a raise. Not only could a higher paycheck make it possible for you to meet goals like building savings or paying off debt, but it could also give you more wiggle room with everyday bills.

If you didn't get a raise going into 2022, you may be eager to either negotiate one at your current job or look for a new job that will pay you better. And seeing as how the U.S. labor market had 10.6 million jobs to fill in November, there's a good chance that if you look outside your current company, you'll find an opportunity.

But rather than focus solely on boosting your salary, it pays to consider the other perks your current employer, or a prospective one, may be willing to offer you. Here are three workplace benefits that could actually benefit you financially more so than a raise.

1. Fully subsidized health insurance

Though many companies subsidize health insurance for employees, often, you'll need to contribute some money toward your premiums. But if an employer is willing to fully subsidize the cost of your health coverage, that's a benefit that could be worth many thousands of dollars.

Say your health insurance plan costs $500 a month. If your employer doesn't dish out a raise this year, but instead agrees to cover that cost in full rather than deduct the $300 a month from your paycheck that you were formerly paying, that's a pretty good deal.

2. A generous 401(k) plan match

The money that goes into your 401(k) plan can't be tapped immediately. Rather, you'll need to leave it alone until you reach age 59 1/2 or otherwise be hit with penalties. But even so, getting free money for your 401(k) is a benefit not to overlook. If your current or future employer offers a generous 401(k) match, it could be enough to compensate for a slightly lower salary.

Imagine you earn $50,000 a year and were hoping to see your pay boosted to $51,500 this year, which would be a 3% raise. If your employer doesn't do that, but instead starts offering up a $3,000 match for employees who participate in its 401(k), that's not a bad deal at all.

3. Unlimited or generous vacation and sick time

In an age when COVID-19 is raging and the chances of having to isolate due to illness or exposure are higher than usual, having a generous time off policy could be a big money-saver. Imagine you take a job that doesn't leave you with a higher salary, but gives you four weeks of paid time off instead of two. That could spell the difference between having your vacation and sick time covered in full versus having to take unpaid time off.

Some companies, in fact, offer unlimited vacation or sick time. These policies usually work on a "use it but don't abuse it" basis, and they can not only save you money, but just as importantly, help you achieve a better work-life balance.

When it comes to your compensation at work, your actual salary is only part of the total picture. Rather than solely fixate on getting a raise, think about the value of the different workplace benefits that may be available to you.

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