A Graduate’s Guide to Employee Perks and Benefits

Look at your first graduate job as more of a package than just a job with a paycheck – you’re entitled to a range of perks and benefits for the modern workplace.
Jasmine Mun_Writer_gradmalaysia_round
Jasmine Mun
Writer, gradmalaysia
A Graduate’s Guide to Employee Perks and Benefits_mainphoto

Before you sign a job offer, you’ll need to be clear about the perks and benefits that you’ll receive as an employee of the company. Although the term “perks and benefits” are often used together, they both refer to different things.

What Are Benefits?

Benefits are non-wage compensation that supplements an employee’s salary. In other words, benefits help to pay for expenses that an employee would otherwise have to cover with their own direct income.

Some examples of employee benefits include company health insurance coverage, optical and dental care claims, and travel and parking allowances. As you advance up the corporate ladder, more lucrative benefits may be extended. These include the option to invest in company shares/assets, inclusion in employee-specific investment funds, or more comprehensive retirement payout packages.  

In Malaysia, the Employment Act 1955 dictates that employee benefits such as annual, maternity and medical leaves, public holidays as well as Employee Provident Fund (EPF) contributions are employee entitlements.  So these are required by law and are not considered “benefits”. Be wary of potential employers that try to position these entitlements otherwise. 

What Are Perks?

Perks are incentives or extra rewards that the company offers to give the employee a better experience in their job. Oftentimes employers use perks to boost the attractiveness of their job offers, or as a means of reinforcing company culture.

More traditional perks at work may include a company car (for an employee’s personal use), gym membership, company-supplied laptops or phones, and free/subsidised training and upskilling programmes.  Other possible perks include flexible working hours, a fully stocked pantry, university tuition discounts (for postgraduate study), hot-desking arrangements, off-site team-building activities, or company-sponsored overseas trips.

Perks act as “nice to haves” and aren’t necessarily a form of compensation. But they are still a good deciding factor as to whether you may want to work for a company. Benefits are far more reliable than perks and cover more basic needs, but that doesn’t mean you should base your job decision on benefits alone.

Other Perks and Benefits

Beyond the items listed above, there are other perks and benefits that graduate employees can expect to encounter in companies. We have listed them here as they deserve to be described in greater detail. They include:

Remote Work Options

Thanks to the global COVID-19 pandemic, working from home or anywhere else outside of a traditional office setting has now become a much more widespread practice. Employers are also realising the organisational benefits of having remote working arrangements, such as lower operating costs (because they no longer need as much physical office space) and higher employee retention rates.

When considering job offers, find out if you’ll be able to work remotely full-time or if you need to adhere to a hybrid schedule. Look into what the employer’s policies are for remote work schedules, virtual meetings, and communication. Also ask whether they provide company devices or stipends for internet, phone lines, or other expenses for remote workers.

Employee Recognition

When an employee does great work or hits a milestone/target, employers may publicly recognise their achievements to make them feel valued. Aside from the warm and fuzzy feeling of being publicly appreciated, some of these recognitions can be included in your CV as well, to boost your future job searches.

You can find this perk in the form of programmes that the employer rolls out to highlight employee excellence, be it awards or company-wide shout-outs. Some employers will also give out additional incentives – whether cash or non-cash – to accompany these programmes and put more tangible value behind their recognition.   

Flexible Working Hours

A flexible schedule is when your employer allows you to work hours and days outside of the traditional nine-to-five, Monday-to-Friday. Not constricted to a rigid schedule means that employees get to arrange and plan their lives around their work, but this has to pair with great discipline to get the job done.

You’ll need to communicate with your supervisor on which days and times you’ll work and establish regular updates to be on the same page. In exchange, the company will likely place more emphasis on easily quantifiable targets and deliverables or require more regular performance reviews to ensure you are still reliably getting the job done.

Although this may sound like a great perk in theory, the downside is that some people may find it hard to compartmentalise their time. You may find yourself working longer hours than expected, or working on weekends and holidays because you don’t know how to “switch off”. So you will need to put in a bit of extra personal effort into planning out your time if maintaining a work-life balance is important to you.

In addition, make sure you clearly outline with your supervisors their expectations for when you should be reachable for work duties. For some employers, having flexible working hours means they expect staff to be reachable 24/7. So make sure you iron such details out in advance before committing to the role.