Less Money, More Benefits

By Siew Ching

For some, employee benefits are more important than their take-home pay. Here are the ones you should be looking out for when deciding on whether to take up a job or not.

Higher pay or better benefits? It’s really a toss-up between the two. When looking for a job, most people often focus on finding one that pays the most salary. But sometimes, more income doesn’t always mean the best job offer, especially if your employee benefits are minimal. What’s important is to look at the entire package – your salary, medical benefits, insurance cover, company extras. Sure, higher pay means improved cash flows but greater benefits often provide a security net, especially if it is a health benefit as we all know, healthcare is expensive!

Some benefits are made mandatory by Malaysia’s Employment Act 1995 – annual leave, sick days, working hours – but there are benefits that are considered optional like insurance, retirement plan options, training, allowances for work commute and internet, subsidised gym membership, and many more.

What are the benefits you should be looking out for here? Here are some examples:

Healthcare Benefits
Most companies offer the basics – hospitalisation, visits to the doctor, dental (not all but more these days). Now, with COVID-19, some companies even let you reimburse your purchases for vitamins, sanitisers, and masks! Healthcare benefits also include insurance coverage should anything happen to you while at work.

Considering that the cost of healthcare is increasing these days, knowing that your company – that is already paying corporate insurance – can pay for some, if not most, of your medical expenses when it comes to things like surgery, physical therapy, hospitalisation for you and even your dependent is a good safety net to have. Imagine if you don’t have all of the above – your salary might not even cost most of it!

So if you were to choose between a job with substantial benefits versus a high-paying job with minimal benefits, it’s usually best to take the former.

Leave Days
You will usually receive 14 days per year if you just started work, and this will go up the more years in service you are with that company. Some people get up to 22 days if they have worked at the company for five years or more. This is your basic entitlement.

But some companies are a bit more generous with their leave days – with recent transformation at the workplace, some companies are allowing their staff to take half the day off on Fridays or unofficial leave a day before a festive celebration. It’s something to consider as this says a lot about the company, that they value your service and understand that time spent with family is something many employees look forward to.

Mental Health Benefits
With the emergence of the pandemic, more and more Malaysians are saying they are feeling stressed and anxious. At the workplace, this can result in lower productivity and lack of motivation. Thankfully, some organisations realise this and understand that mental health is very important for their employees as well as their bottom line (unhappy employees = low productivity = loss of revenue!).

You’ll be hearing more and more of companies offering mental health employee benefits – paid visits to a mental health professional if you need one, treatment if required. Organisations have also taken it upon themselves to organise webinars, workshops, and events to support their employees’ mental health. What’s important is the openness in the company’s culture towards mental health, allowing employees to really achieve the balance they seek without feeling stigmatised.

Professional Training
Some employers offer regular training and certification for employees to help them upskill and equip themselves with the latest info and knowledge. This is a great sign of a company that wants to upgrade their employees to be better versions of themselves. It is also great for your career progression whether within the company or who knows, in another company in the future.

The Little Extra $
Allowance for your car, subsidised gym membership and professional certifications, allowance for buying new glasses, even housing allowance or special discounts for specific items. These extra savings can help stretch your salary even more instead of you having to fork it out for yourself each time. Plus, you might even be more diligent in joining a gym or visiting the dentist if it is paid for!

Perks and Treats
Think of these as the extra mile your company goes to make work more enjoyable for its staff – breakfast on Mondays, a special room for mums, sports facilities, subsidised meals at the cafeteria, career breaks, free health checks, travel discounts, remote working. They may seem little but it all adds up.

What are some of the benefits your company offers that are really cool? Tell us at @Graduan.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash.

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