4 Red Flags an Employee Benefit Plan Isn't Right for You

Four red flags blow in the wind

You look forward to it as one of the highlights of the hiring process: when a potential employer shares the company's employee benefit plan. Chances are, if the conversation has come this far, you have a decent shot at being offered the job. What's more, the discussion gives you an inside look at how the company treats its employees.

You probably already know which benefits mean the most to you. But do you know how to recognize red flags that might indicate a plan is not as good as it seems? Don't get distracted by the excitement of a potential new job. Stay focused on what's best for you, and keep these four warning signs in mind the next time the discussion turns to perks:

1. The company doesn't have the basics down

It's a given: Most professionals want an employee benefit plan that includes things like health insurance, sick leave, 401(k) plans, and training and professional development. In fact, in a recent survey, we asked executives about the top 10 perks and benefits that win employees over, and many of these benefits topped the list. Although free food and dry cleaning are nice to have, make sure your potential employer is offering the essentials first.

2. You don't know the details

If an employer is truly interested in hiring you, the specifics of the employee benefit plan shouldn't be a mystery. If an interviewer has told you several times about an incredible bonus incentive but talks circles around your questions, steer clear. You should know exactly how the benefits and perks work and what you can expect once you sign on.

3. The employee benefit plan seems over-the-top

On-demand cars and unlimited vacation sound great — unless you can't take advantage of them. Sometimes unbelievable perks cover up significant downsides of working with a company, such as a demanding, high-stress environment. What good is unlimited vacation time when you're always required to work long hours?

4. The perks interfere with work-life balance

An employee benefit plan must align with your priorities. If work-life balance is important to you, maybe you won't even take advantage of the on-site office perks. If you can already see yourself spending too much time at the office, do you want to spend even more time there using the fitness facility or coffee bar? If the thought of bringing a toothbrush and extra clothes to work is scary, you may want to rethink if cool perks are really worth it.

In the end, it's not enough to be offered the job. You must assess every aspect of the position and company, including the employee benefit plan. Yes, exciting perks may be enticing, but the plan may not be the right fit for you if it doesn't provide basics like health insurance and paid time off; if it seems too good to be true; or if taking advantage of the benefits will actually hinder your work-life balance. Ultimately, your final decision rests on your evaluation of the company culture and whether or not the complete experience is what you envision for yourself.