More Perks at Work: A Guide to Maximizing Voluntary Benefits

For many people in the working world, the onset of fall means it’s benefits election season: time for employees to review and choose from among the workplace benefits offered by their employer.

Known as the “open enrollment period,” this annual window for employees to evaluate and select benefits offers an excellent — yet often overlooked — opportunity for workers to maximize their on-the-job compensation by taking advantage of the voluntary benefits available to them, whether it’s certain forms of insurance or less traditional benefits such as wellness incentives, identity theft protection, or even pet insurance.

Voluntary benefits are offered by employers as add-ons to a core benefits package. Employees usually pay for them out of their own pockets, in most cases via an automatic payroll deduction.

Don’t be deterred by the extra cost, and don’t infer from the “voluntary” label that they’re superfluous, however. From an employee’s perspective, voluntary benefits are a powerful way to enrich your compensation package, asserts Darin Shebesta, a certified financial planner with Jackson/Rosskelley Wealth Advisors in Scottsdale, Ariz. “Virtually every aspect of a person’s financial life is touched by their [workplace] benefits. But few people take the time to really look at them. They’re leaving benefits on the table that are rightfully theirs.”

Don’t let another open enrollment season pass without at least investigating the voluntary benefits offered by your employer. Here are some that can deliver valuable perks at an affordable price:

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