These days, work environment is a huge consideration when contemplating a new job. Especially when companies are increasingly offering some pretty amazing perks—like free daily lunch, game rooms, nap pods, on-site gyms, and other enticing extras.
These add-ons add up for companies: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, benefits, on average, cost employers $10.61 per hour per employee and accounted for the 31.7% of employee compensation in March 2015. (Within that overall benefit figure, health insurance only cost employers between 89 cents and $3.71 per employee per hour on average.)
But what are perks really worth to you and how can you evaluate them in a way that’s smart for your professional growth? We turned to veteran career advisor Darrell Gurney for the answers you need when weighing those oh-so-tempting offer bonuses.
Companies in the biopharma and technology sectors commonly lowball salaries but offer generous stock options, whether publicly traded or pre-IPO. Make sure you get the details on the vesting schedules, how many total shares there are, and the company’s last valuation (if not publicly traded) so you can really understand what those stock options mean.
Remote/offsite work, flextime, and more vacation are often used as perks that can sway a candidate towards a lower salary. And for good reason: According to recent studies, 35% of millennials actually work every day of their paid time off and four in 10 workers habitually don’t use all of their vacation. So, while the offer of more PTO or flextime may seem attractive, it’s only a perk if you take advantage of it, right? If you work during your vacation and you’re getting paid less, that’s a win-win for your employer . . . and a lose-lose for you.
[Related: The Dos And Don’ts Of Working On Vacation]
Sure, it might be cool that your potential new company has a yoga studio and will pay for you to take community college classes. But if you don’t think you will actually use these perks, they aren’t worth taking a salary cut, clearly.
This is why you need to separate what looks good on paper—and what will sound cool when talking to your friends—with what you actually want and need in your work life. If it’s stock options, do some math to determine what the options are worth now or what they may be worth in, say, a year or two. The same personal valuation can be made for flextime and more vacation time by determining how much you’ll be making for that additional time off or flexibility. If you’re currently paying for a gym membership, perhaps you can cut that out if your new gig offers fitness—saving you a certain amount per month. And when it comes to health insurance, be sure to get the facts on how much your monthly out-of-pocket will be for coverage. Thinking critically about everything on the table is the only way to truly know for sure how much those perks are worth.
This article originally appeared on Levo and is reprinted with permission.