Evaluating Compensation Packages

All too often, a person’s job search leads them to accept the highest salary offer without sufficiently considering the accompanying “benefits package.” But medical insurance, life and long-term disability insurance, leave benefits, and retirement benefits are extremely important—and valuable—parts of the total compensation package.

People without certain benefits may suffer large income losses or encounter significant costs over the course of a lifetime. In some cases, offered benefits can offset a lower salary amount when compared with other job offers that may exclude certain benefits.

Although the precise value of a given benefits package varies from employer to employer, you can get a proximate value by multiplying your annual, pre-tax salary by the percentage value of your benefits package (ask human resources staff or the hiring manager for that figure).

Compensation Considerations

When evaluating a compensation offer, think about the value each part of the package has to you and whether the benefits are a good fit for you in the long term. Compare the offer with your needs and what you have with your current employer. Also, find out if a potential employer allows employees to choose the benefits that are most important to them.

Use these checklists to evaluate your compensation package:

Health, Accident, and Liability Protection

  • How much do employees contribute for individual and family coverage?
  • How many choices and what kinds of plans (e.g., Blue Cross Blue Shield (BC/BS), Point of Service (POS), Preferred Provider Organization (PPO)) are available?
  • What is the process for obtaining a referral to a specialist?
  • Is there prescription drug coverage?
  • Is there a deductible, and what portion of doctor visits and hospital stays is the employee responsible for?
  • Will the employer reimburse you for COBRA during any waiting period?
  • Is there a health care flexible spending plan?
  • Is preventive care (including immunizations) covered?
  • Are family planning services provided?
  • Are eye exams covered?
  • Is domestic partner coverage available?

Deferred Income Benefits

  • What are the retirement benefits (defined benefit plan or defined contribution plan)?
  • What is the vesting schedule?
  • Are employee contributions matched and/or tax deferred?

Disability and Family Income Continuation

  • Does the employer provide short- and long-term disability?
  • Does the employer provide life insurance? How much?
  • Can employees purchase additional life insurance at a group discount?
  • Is travel accident insurance provided?

Leave Time

  • How much paid time off is provided for holidays, as well as for vacation, sick, and personal days?
  • Are the different types of leave allotments separate or aggregated?
  • Can employees use sick leave to care for a family member?
  • Can unused leave be cashed in and/or rolled over into a 401K?
  • Is there a "use it or lose it" leave policy?

Work Hours

  • Are work hours flexible?
  • Is a compressed work week or telecommuting offered?

Income Equivalent Benefits

  • Are there any child-care or elder-care benefits?
  • Is there a dependent-care flexible spending plan?
  • Are relocation benefits (related to moving, new home purchase, house hunting, or interim living) available?
  • Does the company cover communication resources (cell phone or computer; fax or tablets/e-readers; telepractice equipment for your home)?
  • Does the employer provide additional financial resources (tax or will preparation and/or estate planning)?
  • Does the employer provide transportation benefits (car allowance or company car; public transportation subsidy; or paid, reimbursed, or subsidized parking)?

Professional Development

  • Is there a tuition reimbursement program?
  • Will the employer reimburse for attendance at conferences and workshops?
  • Will the employer pay for ASHA dues?