Category: Employment

What are employee benefits, and how can they help me?

These days, employers are offering more than just a base salary to reward employees for their hard work.  Many employers offer their employees a variety of benefits, some of which we’ll go into below.  While most of these are optional benefits, you may want to talk to a financial adviser prior to making any decisions that could have an impact on your finances.

Health Insurance

Some employers may offer partially or fully subsidised (paid for) health insurance if they have an affiliation with a health fund.  This could include hospital only cover, extras cover or both.

Purchased Annual Leave

In addition to your normal annual leave entitlements (which is normally 4 weeks for a full-time employee), some workplaces offer the ability to purchase extra annual leave so you can go on longer holidays.  This works by the employer dividing the cost of the extra leave (the amount you’d be paid if you were working) over a longer period (from a month to a year, for example), and taking it out of your pay each pay cycle (when you get paid).

For example, if your normal pay is $1000 per fortnight ($52,000 per year), and you want to purchase 1 week of additional leave and spread the cost over the year, your pay would decrease by around $10 per fortnight ($500 divided by 52).

It is important you talk to a financial adviser prior to purchasing extra annual leave to ensure it is appropriate for your situation.

Salary Sacrificing

Salary sacrificing, or Salary Packaging, allows you to make purchases with your pre-tax income, helping you save tax.  Below are some examples of different things you can salary sacrifice, with the most common being cars:

  • Cars
  • Laptops
  • Mobile Phones
  • Superannuation

If you work for a non-profit or charity, you may also be eligible to salary sacrifice some general expenses without incurring Fringe Benefits Tax.

Of all the benefit types, salary sacrificing is the most important benefit to get financial advice for, in fact some employers will explicitly require proof that you’ve received financial advice, or will get you to sign a waiver saying you didn’t get it.

Staff Discounts

Some employers will give you a discount for products or services they provide (for example, supermarkets).  Other employers may enrol in a program where employees can get discounts at various businesses, or offer discounts through their suppliers.

Employee Assistance Programs

Employee Assistance Programs gives access to counselling and crisis support to employees and their immediate family.  Sessions are generally provided in-person or over the phone at no cost to the employee.  This can be beneficial as there is usually a very short waiting period compared to seeing a psychologist or other mental health professional.

Penalty Rates

Penalty rates are usually given to employees who work outside normal business hours, and consist of an additional percentage of the normal hourly rate, often called a loading.  Loading can range from 15% for weekday after hours work to 150% for Sundays and public holidays.

Employees may also be paid a flat rate for being on call, which is where an employee is available to work at short notice if required, but not actually working.  When an employee is called out to work, they may also receive a loading depending when they worked.  Some employers may also pay a minimum rate for a call-out, for example someone called out on the weekend may receive a minimum of two hours pay for work they’ve done, even if they worked less.

Training

Employers may opt to pay for training relating to the job you’re in, or to further progress your career within the company.  This could be industry specific training or training through a TAFE or University.  It is quite common for employers of apprentices to pay TAFE fees upon successful completion of a unit.  Some employers may add a condition that the employee must stay with the company for a period of time, otherwise they may need to pay back the company for the cost of the training provided.

Parking

While not common, some employers will offer on-site parking for free, or will reimburse you if you need to pay for parking, especially if you’re visiting the site of a customer.

Conclusion

The list above are just some of the benefits employers are offering their employees.  Some places may also offer other benefits that we haven’t covered here, such as childcare or bonuses.  While some benefits may be automatic, your employer should give you information about how to claim extra benefits that aren’t (if they don’t, you can ask them).

What on earth is Ikigai, and how can it benefit me?

In last week’s blog post, I talked about purpose and values.  This week, I’d like to extend on those topics and talk about Ikigai.  What on Earth is Ikigai, you might be wondering.  Ikigai (pronounced ee-kee-guy) is a Japanese concept which roughly translates to “reason for being”.  It takes the concept of purpose and values and builds on it in a way that can be applied specifically to your career.  Your Ikigai is where the following four elements intersect:

What you love

This is where your values come into play.  As I mentioned in the last blog post, our values are things that are important to us, which is a key driver to helping you determine the things that you love.  To demonstrate this, I’m going to use my imaginary friend Jim (who I just made up).  A couple of Jim’s core values include being able to help people solve problems and thinking logically.  These values guide Jim towards his love for computers.

What you are good at

Generally, when you love something you want to spend as much time working in that field as possible.  Over time, you’ll build your skills and become very good at what you do.  Because Jim loves computers and solving problems so much, he’s spent a lot of time coding and creating lots of different little apps, which has made him a very good programmer.  Passion occurs when your love for something intersects with something you’re good at.

What you can be paid for

While it’s great to be able to do something you love, it’s very hard to do it all the time if you’re unable to pay your bills.  The next piece of the Ikigai puzzle is finding something you can be paid for.  In Jim’s situation, you can see through various job seeker websites that it is possible to earn a living by programming.  When something you can be paid for intersects with something you’re good at, that is your profession.

What the world needs

One of, if not *the*, most important parts of the Ikigai concept is doing something the world needs.  The key to being successful in business (and life in general) is the ability to help others solve their problems.  Since the world needs people like Jim to program computers to make life easier, he’s got this covered.  Your mission in life is where your love for something intersects with something to world needs, and your vocation (job) is where something the world needs meets something you can be paid for.

Bringing it all together

When you’ve identified the four previously mentioned elements, where they intersect then becomes your Ikigai.  People will often work in a job they hate just because that’s what they’re told to do, or told what they can do.  This leads to high levels of stress, which in turn leads to a decrease in mental and physical health over time.  The Ikigai concept aims to increase the level of personal fulfilment, resulting in lower levels of stress and better long-term health.

How can your purpose and values help you find a job?

Before looking for a job, you should have a rough idea of what you’d like to do. Any job you consider applying for should be able to earn you enough money, fit into your lifestyle and be fulfilling to you.

In order for a job to be fulfilling, the work you are doing must not conflict with your values.  Values are the things that are the most important to you, and define how you behave. Success, in your own mind, is defined by your core values, and aligning what you do with your values should create a state of happiness and fulfilment.

While your values may change over time as you move through the different stages of life, they don’t usually change too much. As you start out in your career you might value money above all other things and be happy to work long hours.  However, if you start a family these values might change, along with your career preferences. As you get older, you may also start to value your health more, making decisions based on leading a healthier lifestyle.

For example, someone who has family as one of their core values would benefit from working in a job that allows them the extra time to spend with their loved ones and the flexibility to take time out to tend to family matters when needed. In contrast, a job where they have to work long hours is likely to lead to a high level of stress and discomfort.

Everyone on this planet has a purpose in life, however many of us have not found that purpose yet, and some of us may never do so. Our purpose is what keeps us going when things gets difficult, and provides a beacon to guide us through life’s many choices.

Your life’s purpose is closely linked to your core values and passion, and should be the focus of any goals you set and decisions you make, including finding a job. The reason for this is that your purpose is what drives you, and the energy you get from being internally motivated is one of the most powerful things to help you be successful in life.