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How to make sure you're taking advantage of all employer benefits to boost your wealth

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Many employers offer their workers benefits beyond just health insurance and retirement planning.

These perks can range from mental-health services to financial advice and can be used to boost your personal wealth.

But many workers don't know how to get the most out of those benefits. In fact, some 32% of employees report to being confused about their benefit packages, according to a study from Businessolver. The confusion can be even more prevalent when it comes to benefits outside the enrollment process.

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These are "oftentimes overlooked or forgotten about because [employees] don't see them in the enrollment flow and the employee isn't paying for them," said Sherri Bockhorst, senior vice president of innovation and strategy at Businessolver. "But there's a huge value to the employee for those benefits."

Benefits that may be overlooked

Workplace benefits that often don't require employee enrollment can include such things as child-care and elder-care assistance, financial planning, fertility and adoption help, mental-health services, and fitness and wellness resources.

Employees generally know less about perks beyond retirement plans and health care — and may not use them as much. About 55% of workers say they understand their financial benefits well, with similar rates for emotional and supplemental benefits, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

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"It seems that people are more likely to say that they understand the health benefits probably because they've been around longer," said Bridget Bearden, research and development strategist at EBRI.

Why you should use all benefits offered

Taking advantage of all the benefits offered to you at work can help you boost your wealth, improve your physical and emotional health and increase your satisfaction with your job, Bearden said.

First, many employers offer financial benefits that workers can utilize to help them shore up their finances and make sure they're on the right path for long-term goals. In addition, using other resources through your employer can mean you're getting a service for a discount.

"Oftentimes, the employer can offer these services to workers at a rate that they wouldn't be able to find in the retail marketplace," said Bearden. "It's very important for employees to recognize that."

There couldn't be a better time to learn about what you already have available and not go spend money on these things.
Paul Seegert
managing partner at PCS Advisers

For example, if you have a legal-insurance benefit, that will help you with an array of activities such as creating a will, establishing trusts or even getting together documents you need to buy a home.

"All of these things over the long run will greatly reduce your fees and allow you to build more wealth over time because of that," said Bearden.

These discounts could also help people who are currently battling inflation and consumer interest rate hikes, both of which are squeezing budgets.

"There couldn't be a better time to learn about what you already have available and not go spend money on these things," said Paul Seegert, managing partner at PCS Advisers in Chico, California. He noted that many employers offer some free mental-health sessions, which could save a worker who wants to see a counselor thousands of dollars.

Where to go for help

Of course, employers must know what's available to them to use all of their benefits.

If you work at a company with a human resources or benefits portal, that's a good place to start to see what's open to you. In addition, the last page of your enrollment guide should include a list of all available resources, said Bockhorst.

Your company also likely sends employees emails about benefit enrollment that will include information about what is offered.

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"Reading those emails, opening them is a huge step forward," said Bearden, adding that if there are any informational events, you should also attend them.

If you're still stumped, experts recommend reaching out to a human resources professional at your company.  

"Consider them a resource to help you use all the benefits they're working so hard to offer," said Bearden. "Don't be afraid to ask for help."

"They're going to be able to educate you on these things," said Seegert. If there's an employee benefits number, you can also call and learn about what's available and be connected to the right resources, he said.

You could also ask your coworkers or other colleagues what benefits they use, Bearden said.

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