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How to Hack Your Employee Benefits

Updated: Dec 6, 2023

employee benefits hacks

Employee benefits are more than just an added perk of your job; they are valuable resources that can significantly impact your well-being and financial security.

From health savings and insurance plans to wellness programs and continuing education opportunities, these benefits are designed to support and enhance your life outside of the office.

Whether you’re starting a new job and looking to maximize your benefits from the get-go or are looking to optimize the offerings from your current employer, understanding the intricacies and hidden opportunities of your benefits can be a game-changer.

Read on to explore six ways you can make the most of your employee benefits package.

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How to Make the Most of Your Employee Benefits

Voluntary benefits are offered by your employer and paid for by you, the employee. While not all of them may offer financial benefits, some bring peace of mind and security in other forms.

Employers may offer:

  • Health and wellness benefits like health or vision insurance, dental insurance, life insurance, gym memberships, etc.

  • Financial wellness benefits like financial counseling, student loan repayment programs, or mortgage protection insurance.

  • Personal benefits like pet, travel, or car insurance, employee assistance programs (EAPs), legal counseling, or discounted services.

  • Security benefits like identity theft protection or homeowners’ insurance.

But finding the right combination of voluntary benefits to score employee benefits hacks can be time-consuming. The responsibility for piecing together the benefits that can help get you to financial stability lies solely with you — but it is worth it.

To make the most of the voluntary benefits your employee offers, you’ll need to fully understand what’s available to you.

By exploring employee benefit hacks and taking advantage of voluntary benefits, you may be able to:

  • Protect your health

  • Build a strong financial foundation; and

  • Foster personal growth and job satisfaction.

Here’s an inside look at six different employee benefits that may help you explore a more well-rounded and beneficial life outside of work.

6 Employee Benefit Hacks To Get the Most Out of Your Benefits Plan

Healthcare, retirement, PTO — these are likely the first benefits that come to mind when you think about a compensation package.

But other voluntary benefits can add up to a healthy amount of your compensation package. Discounts, savings accounts, insurance options, and PTO advances are just a few employee benefits hacks we’ll go into below.

#1: Utilize Health Savings Accounts (HSAS)

A health savings account allows employees to budget and plan for healthcare expenses more effectively, reducing the stress unexpected out-of-pocket costs can cause.

Utilizing a Health Savings Account (HSA) benefit from your employer can help you capitalize on:

  • Tax advantages: Contributions made to an HSA are tax-deductible, which reduces your taxable income for the year. Any interest or investment gains on the account are also tax-free, which allows your savings to grow faster. Lastly, any qualified withdrawals for eligible medical expenses are also tax-free.

  • Healthcare cost management: An HSA allows you to set aside funds specifically for unexpected medical expenses. When you contribute to your account regularly, you can build a financial safety net to cover any pop-up medical costs, like deductibles, co-pays, or other out-of-pocket expenses.

  • Long-term savings: Any contributed funds to your HSA roll over from year to year, allowing you to accumulate savings for future medical needs — including those during retirement, unlike Flexible Spending Accounts which often have a time limit, typically one year, in which you must use any money saved.

Taking advantage of a voluntary HSA benefit from your employer may offer significant tax advantages and enable you to be more financially secure if and when medical expenses arise.

This benefit may prove to be a valuable tool in helping you build your financial future while promoting a proactive approach to healthcare.

Let Your HSA Grow

On top of the triple tax advantage, once your HSA balance reaches a certain threshold, you may have the option to invest the funds in the account. This can potentially grow your savings even further and act as an additional retirement investment vehicle.

Let’s say you chose to invest $100 in an HSA every month starting when you were 45 years old and earned a 5% rate of return. By the time you were 65, you could have approximately $40,746 saved.

#2: Look For Preventative Health Benefits

Being able to maintain and improve your overall health and well-being through preventative care can help ensure you stay productive and maintain your overall well-being — all of which can mitigate the chance of burnout and make your life in and out of the office that much more enjoyable.

Utilizing preventative health benefits from your employer may help with:

  • Cost savings

  • Reduced stress and anxiety

  • Long-term health management

  • Early detection and prevention thanks to regular check-ups, screenings, and vaccinations

#3: Get Life Insurance

Life insurance policies are a great way to ensure your family is financially secure if the worst should happen. Many policies are structured so that the sooner an employee enrolls, the more beneficial it is — ie. the sooner you start contributing, the more you’ll earn over time.

The primary benefit of enrolling in life insurance through your company is that you can potentially save a significant amount in premiums over the long term.

#4: See Which Benefits Can Roll Over

It’s estimated that most people will have 12 jobs during their lifetime.

So it’s understandable that many hesitate to go all in on voluntary benefits when you’re not sure of your commitment to a company.

However, it’s often beneficial to have some voluntary perks in place on the off chance you can take advantage of them during your time at the company, and you may even be able to take some of them with you if and when you choose to move on.

For example, it’s common for employees to roll over their retirement funds or life insurance to a different company, allowing any contributions to remain intact.

So, the next time you’re starting to job hunt, look through potential employee benefits offerings and look for those that you can keep. If anything can roll over, it’s suggested that you take advantage of those benefits as soon as possible.

#5: Check Out Continuing Education, Employee Assistance Programs, and Upskill Payouts

Seeing as 20% of all American adults report they have outstanding undergraduate student debt and 24% report outstanding postgraduate student loans, employer-offered repayment assistance is a desired, and appreciated, benefit for many employees.

Also, check to see if your employer offers tuition reimbursement or professional development stipends to cover any:

  • Training

  • Conference

  • Book; or

  • Certification costs

Any employee benefits that can help you further your career, and your finances, is a smart move.

#6: Get Sorbet

If you’ve been in the workforce for a while, you’ve likely had to accrue paid time off for each period you work.

But did you know that over 765 million vacation days have gone unused by Americans?

Even though PTO and vacation days are designed for employees to take time off and recharge, not everyone takes advantage of them. If you’re in this mix and often forget you have PTO to take, or don’t want to use them, or you feel your workload won’t allow for it, Sorbet can help.

Many companies offer an option for you to “cash out” these days by exchanging them for the pay rate you receive at the time of your departure or retirement. Sorbet allows you to access this money at any time without waiting until you are no longer with the company. This financial hack can provide you with extra funds when you need them most.

To get your PTO working for you:

  1. Calculate how much you can get for your unused PTO​.

  2. Apply risk-free in minutes. There’s no commitment to apply and you can change your mind at any time.

  3. Receive your money on a prepaid Sorbet Visa card within 1-5 business days.

  4. Pay us back when you leave your company.

So, let’s say you have $1,500 in locked PTO funds right now and the time has come for a new car. Sorbet will advance that to you now, freeing up the money for you to put towards your dream car, instead of you having to wait until you leave the company to get it.

Then every month, you’ll pay Sorbet a very small percentage of interest on the advance. When you leave your job and cash out your PTO, you’ll repay the $1,500 to Sorbet.

Alternatively, if your employer offers our services through us, they would be responsible for paying us directly.

FAQs About Employee Benefit Hacks

What Should I Contribute to My 401k for Maximum Benefit?

If your company offers a 401(k) plan, you should contribute enough from each paycheck to take advantage of any match that your employer offers. Otherwise, you are losing out on part of your compensation — and not taking advantage of free money.

Experts advise saving 10% to 20% of your gross salary each year, but it’s best to aim to save as much as you, and your budget, allows for retirement.

For example, if your employee offers up to 6% of compensation, it’s a good idea to contribute 6% as well, so your total 401k contribution equates to 12%.

Once you’ve matched your employer’s contribution, how much more you put toward retirement can depend based on:

  • Your age

  • Other retirement plans

  • Your income

  • Lifestyle

  • And more

What Is the Point of Employee Benefits?

Employee benefits are an essential component of a comprehensive compensation package and are designed to go beyond base salary to provide added value to employees.

But why not just add the cost of employee benefits back into salaries and let employees pay for these offerings themselves?

The primary purpose of employee benefits is to attract, and retain, talented employees like yourself while supporting your well-being and, ideally, promoting job satisfaction.

How Is Sorbet’s PTO Advance Solution an Employee Benefit Hack?

We all know life throws us curveballs, and sometimes you’re faced with a big expense — or a great opportunity — and you need a solid chunk of money now. Instead of taking out a loan or getting an advance on your paycheck, Sorbet allows you to advance out your unused PTO.

You’re gaining access to money you already earned without incurring high fees and penalties.

Sorbet is a great option for those who may otherwise not be able to get approval due to lower credit scores, etc.

Plus, it couldn’t be easier — Simply check and see how many days are actually in your PTO bank, view your balance, and have your money within a week.

Sorbet’s integrated solution allows you to access your money in a way that’s a true benefit, instead of just a PTO option.

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