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The Importance of Maximizing Your Employee Benefits

Business Insights Financial Well-Being
Photo of a smiling woman working on her laptop.

We’re hearing a lot about burnout in today’s work environment. Burnout is a form of exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. With COVID anxiety and blurred lines between home and work, a staggering 89 percent of U.S. employees experienced burnout in the past year according to a report from Vizer.

How do we combat burnout? Employees are at their best when their wellbeing is prioritized both on and off the clock. Offering a good benefits package is a great way for companies to support their workers in a wholistic way. It can also help in recruiting and retaining talent as 70 percent of the Vizer survey respondents said they would consider leaving their job for other companies that offer comprehensive resources and benefits.

Are you taking full advantage of what’s available to you, or are you leaving services on the table? Read on to learn more about how make the most of your benefits and be your best self.

Paid Time Off
Americans are notoriously bad at taking vacation, and during the pandemic we have become even worse. According to a Priceline survey, only one in five Americans (21 percent) used all their PTO in 2020, down from 30 percent in 2019. When we do take time off, few of us are truly disconnecting. Only one in three survey respondents who took PTO in 2020 said they completely unplugged from work.

Turning “off” may be one of the best things we can do to avoid burnout and be more productive when we are in the office. Taking time to mentally disengage from work is strongly related to greater job and life satisfaction, less stress, and fewer health problems. With fall underway and the holidays quickly approaching, now is a great time to plan out how you’re going to use the remainder of your 2021 PTO.

Preventative Health
Most health, dental, and vision insurance plans offer preventative care such as routine physicals, dental exams and cleanings, and eye exams at no out-of-pocket cost to you. Be sure to schedule your regular appointments before the end of each plan year.

Wellness incentives are also becoming more common. Find out if there are any discounts offered at your company for being tobacco-free, tracking your steps, joining a gym, etc. If there are and these are things you do already, you might as well save some extra money on your healthcare at the same time.

Financial Wellness
Financial stress can also play a role in productivity and burnout. PwC’s annual Employee Financial Wellness Survey found that 45 percent of workers experiencing financial setbacks have been distracted at work by their money problems, and both those who reported increased financial setbacks during the pandemic and those who hadn’t yet faced financial stress said they would be more attracted to another company that cared more about financial well-being than their current employer. Here are a few financial benefits your company may provide.

  • Retirement Planning
    No matter how far off it seems, it is important to start saving for retirement as early as you can. If your company offers an employer match, be sure to contribute enough to your 401k to take advantage. It is basically free money!

  • Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and Flexible Savings Accounts (FSAs)
    These accounts allow you to set money aside for certain eligible expenses such as healthcare and dependent care expenses and draw money throughout the year to pay for those expenses. The money is set aside pre-tax, reducing your taxable income. If available to you, do your research and consider if these accounts will help you lower your overall expenses.

  • Financial Advice
    Many companies offer free one-on-one consultations with an advisor to help you with your retirement and general financial planning. This is a great opportunity to get your questions answered and talk with an expert to make sure you’re making the most of your benefits.

Life and Disability Insurance
Though we are all hopeful we will never need life or disability insurance, these are important safeguards you can put in place to protect you and your family. If your company offers it, find out what options are available and consider opting in.

Employee Assistance Programs (EAP)
Employee Assistance Programs offer free wellness and life management resources to employees and their household family members. These services are completely confidential and include counseling (marriage, anxiety, depression, stress management during life changes, etc.), financial consulting/debt counseling, legal services, elder care, childcare resources, parenting/adoption resources, college consultation resources, and pet care.

With the right benefits, employees are more productive and satisfied in their jobs. They’re also able to grow and develop personally and professionally while reaching their financial goals. At Southern First, our people are the driving force behind our success, and we are committed to helping them thrive with a range of employee benefits to support them. Ready to join our team? Click here to learn more about our benefits and to see our available positions.


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