Put your hand up if one, or even both, of your parents worked the same job for as long as you can remember? My hand is up. My Dad worked as an engineer with the same company for 30 years. It was the first job he took when he emigrated to Canada in the 80’s, and stayed until he retired. My mom initially took a job as a physiotherapist at the local hospital when arriving in Canada, and then switched into private practice where she stayed for the next two decades. That was pretty typical of the baby boom generation. Job-hopping was not a thing. Two-thirds of baby boomers entered their fifties working jobs they had held for at least twelve years. Even to me (a millennial who has stuck with the same job for a decade) that’s surprising.
Millennials are different. I’m the exception to the rule. Based on current trends, it has been predicted that millennials will work upwards of fifteen different jobs throughout their working lives. Currently, I’m at six. And that’s including a couple of part-time summer jobs I had when I was in school. There’s also a very good chance I stay in my current career until I retire. Believe me; I know how rare that is. I have friends who have gone through more jobs in one year that I have in my life.
Why the Shift?
It’s clear that the job landscape is changing, and millennials have different expectations from work than our parents did. But why? What has changed in our mentality towards work?
A lot of it has to do with the shift away from benefits. Many of us millennials have parents who are living a comfortable retirement with a defined benefit pension plan cheque getting deposited into their bank accounts each month. Combine that with CPP and OAS benefits and supplement with a bit of savings, and you have the making of an A+ retirement. Today? Good luck finding a job that’s going to offer you that same benefit. Defined benefit plans are going the way of the woolly mammoth….straight towards extinction. Government jobs are one of the few sectors that still offer DB plans. Now you’re lucky to be offered an RRSP matching plan and maybe some extended health benefits.
Without that promise of a retirement pay cheque after putting in your 30 years of service, millennials aren’t as concerned with loyalty. This lack of loyalty is often quoted as a negative against us, but if employers were offering the same benefits, our parents were given, jumping ship wouldn’t be as feasible an option.
Weighing Employee Benefits
Let’s talk about benefits. Your salary is (often) just one of the benefits you receive being an employee. Yes, it’s the thing we all think about, but there are other factors to weigh. If you are on the hunt for a job or considering a change in career path, here are six things you should review before saying YES!
Your annual salary will be the biggest factor in deciding whether or not a job is right for you. Are you getting paid fair market value? Is there room for growth? Will the salary allow you to hit your financial goals? If the answer to any of these questions is no, then you better unleash your inner queen and negotiate a better deal, or start looking elsewhere.
Not everyone gets a consistent salary. Many who work in sales (like the bf) get paid full or part commission, which means their take-home pay can vary. People who are great at sales have unlimited earning potential, but it’s not for everyone. Like me, I suck at sales jobs. It also makes determining an expected ‘salary’ more challenging. Before accepting a sales position, you’ll want to ask what the current earning range is for existing employees.
Unless you work in certain financial sectors (are other industries like this?) and your bonuses can outpace your actual salary, a bonus structure will be a secondary feature. Getting a bonus is not guaranteed, but if the targets are achievable and you’re willing to put in the work, they can be the difference between a mediocre and a generous salary package.
Not all employers offer bonuses. I’m talking about an actual bonus payout program, not just the fact that sometimes you get a Christmas bonus. That’s a gift, not a real bonus. If, however, an achievable bonus plan is offered, it can make a new position a lot more attractive.
This one’s huge. If you are one of the lucky few who does work for an employer who offers a pension plan, then you need to understand the value. Your salary will be lower, but that doesn’t mean you’re getting paid less. Think about your retirement people!
There are two types of pension plans to understand. Defined benefit plans will pay you a guaranteed monthly income in retirement. For example, if I started working with the Government of Alberta today (I’m almost 32) and retired at 65, I would get nearly $3,000 per month from my pension. To match that amount on my own, I would need almost 1 million dollars in retirement savings. I determined those numbers using this calculator and mirroring the above situation; current age of 32, no savings, 5% rate of return, a retirement age of 65, living until age 85. To hit that I would need to save over $12k per year and even then there’s no guarantee like there is with a pension.
This example oversimplifies things, but it does prove that a DB pension is worth both money and retirement security.
The second type of pension is a defined contribution plan and is much more common these days. The difference is that instead of a guaranteed payout you get guaranteed contributions. Most plans will have a required contribution from both you (the employee) and your employer. Your contributions will be combined into an account and be invested. You do have added flexibility when it comes to choosing the investments (you have no choice with DB plans), but there is no guarantee of how much you’ll end up with. These plans are very similar to RRSP’s but have additional restrictions when it comes to withdrawing funds. In fact, I would lump group RRSP’s into this same category. They aren’t technically a pension plan, but if your employer offers a matching program, then they work almost identically.
If a prospective employer is offering a pension plan, or you are considering leaving a job with a plan, make sure you recognize those contributions as part of your salary. Sometimes a high salary isn’t as tempting if there isn’t a pension plan included.
We might brag about our ‘free’ healthcare in Canada, but it’s far from comprehensive. Don’t expect to go to the dentist, pick-up prescriptions, or buy new glasses without significant out of pocket costs. Last year I racked up $1,973.33 in extended health costs, and I consider that a good year. It includes a new pair of glasses and a years supply of contacts, massages every month or two, one dental visit with x-rays and cleaning, and twelve months of birth control pills.
Guess how much I actually had to pay? Nothing. All in part because both the bf and I have extended health benefit plans that pay for such expenses. We would have been out thousands of dollars if we didn’t have that coverage. The bf had his wisdom teeth pulled out last year, so his total was substantially higher than mine. Imagine having to come up with thousands of dollars each year just to cover these necessities? Honestly, I would probably never go to the dentist until a real issue came up. Health benefits are not only good for your wallet; they’re good for your health. Don’t forget that when you’re weighing salary offers.
Not all workplaces are created equal. Many of us spend more time with our co-workers than we do with any other people in our lives. That means it’s important to like them. If your co-workers are miserable, then you’re probably going to be miserable too. That’s no way to live 40 hours of your life every week.
More and more workplaces are tuning into this and changing how we think of the typical office. Flexible schedules, work at home opportunities, onsite daycares, and open plan offices are all examples of new trends that are popping up in more places. A pension plan or working from home? The new millennial conundrum.
You want to work in a place that makes you happy. Being challenged, office friendships, flexibility, non-jerk bosses are all factors that should come into play when choosing a role. A high salary isn’t always worth it if you have a micro-managing office manager watching over your shoulder every second of every day.
Some employers also offer added benefits that don’t fit neatly into the above categories. This can include such perks as paid vacation days, an onsite gym or free gym membership, reimbursement for advanced education, or even free food. You may also have access to corporate discounts that could lower your cell phone bill or snag you cheap movie passes. The company I work with is a member of Venngo which is group discount provider that can snag you cheap rates on hotels, at restaurants and even on shoes. It’s worth checking to see if your company has access to such discounts and take advantage if they do. Most of us are given an employee handbook when we start at a new firm, but how many of us actually read it? It could be worth your time!
In conclusion, don’t forget that your compensation is about so much more than your salary. If you are looking for your first career job or considering a change, make sure you weigh all factors before making a jump.
Where are you at with work right now? Do you think you’ll hit that estimated 15 jobs before you retire? What type of workplace benefits do you have right now, and are there others you wish you had?
This post was proofread by Grammarly.