Understand Your Employee Benefits

I became acquainted with a couple of employees at a store I used to frequent. When the branch closed, these new friends told me what they found out. When they moved to the U.S. 10 years ago, they started working for this store. At that time, they were still learning English. And because work culture was different in their country, they did not find out the benefits they were entitled to as employees. This missed opportunities added up to thousands of dollars. That’s why in this blog, I want to encourage you to understand your employee benefits, especially if you are new to this country.

Many think of medical insurance as one of the most important perks of working with a company. But there are many others. For example, 401K plan, exercise club membership, education reimbursement, just to name a few.

In a supermarket I frequent, I know several cashiers who completed their college degree while working full-time. They get reimbursed by the company for completing courses with a satisfactory grade. While they also use their own money for tuition, the reimbursement helped. One is now working as a nurse, another as an engineer, and another as marketing consultant.

However, many employees from other countries are often not aware of all the benefits available to them. Partly, it’s because the English in the employee handbook is difficult for them to understand. And perhaps partly, it’s because they do not feel comfortable going to HR and ask for explanations of these benefits.

The couple of acquaintances I mentioned at the beginning of this blog wanted to start their own business after the store closed. Had they known about the savings plan available through their company, they could have had that money after 10 years to start their business. But they did not know about it. And headquarters did not think about checking with them to make sure they sign up for those plans.

The article How to help employees understand company benefits offers some ideas for HR managers. However, even if you are not in HR, you can take the same ideas to enrich your own life.

And if you are in HR, the blog Tips for managers of multi-cultural team offers ideas that may help you strengthen your team.

Estrella Chan coaches immigrants and international professionals in English fluency, interview skills, and public speaking.    To schedule a session with her, please email support@englisharoundtheworld.com

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