Microsoft doesn't mess around when it comes to the benefits and perks they offer employees.
Like many large tech companies, Microsoft doesn't mess around when it comes to the benefits and perks it offers to employees. According to their website, Microsoft wants to allow employees, along with their family members, to “make the most of life.” Many current and former employees attest to this online.
Bowen Li, a former project manager at Microsoft said on Quora that:
“The healthcare/benefits/etc. were the best I've seen. As people grow up/old at Microsoft, the company is very accommodating of people's lives, both culturally and institutionally.”
Microsoft's reliable benefits package addresses a variety of employee needs by providing comprehensive health coverage, programs to help them save for the future, and an array of other perks.
👉 Read Next: Is working at Microsoft considered prestigious?
The outstanding benefits at Microsoft will surely impress you, but first let's discuss the culture and work-life balance.
This Quora review from a Microsoft program manager sums up the culture well:
There is exciting work to do, and tremendous opportunities to learn. There are smart people all around you who will go out of their way to help you.
Employees tend to think highly of the culture at Microsoft, expressing that the company values its employees and teammates are eager to help one another. Its company culture has a 4.4 out of 5 star rating on Glassdoor. Microsoft consistently ranks highly in lists of top tech companies to work for.
Microsoft was historically known for its long hours, but this has changed a lot under the current CEO, Satya Nadella. In recent years, Microsoft's approach to work-life balance has improved tremendously - on Glassdoor, work-life balance is rated 4.1 out of 5 stars.
Photo credit: Built in Seattle
Microsoft offers standard and comprehensive health care options that include medical, dental, and vision coverage for employees and their families. There are no premiums for the plans, meaning that Microsoft covers them and nothing is deducted from employees' paychecks.
Microsoft employees rave about the excellent medical coverage saying that you have a lot of choices as to which coverage is right for you. Preventative is "free" at Microsoft (100% coverage under the HDHCP).
Although there are no premiums for medical insurance, there are deductibles, but Microsoft offers Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) to set aside pre-tax dollars to cover eligible expenses.
Employees can choose between a basic dental plan or a plus plan that offers more coverage for out-of-pocket expenses and orthodontic services.
Microsoft covers one annual eye exam and reimburses you for one pair of glasses or contacts per year.
Overall thoughts on health care
It seems like Microsoft is still figuring out the best healthcare plans to offer to employees, as they began offering a new plan to Seattle-area employees in 2019. For this Health Connect Plan, Microsoft partnered with Eastside Health Network (EHN) and Premera Blue Cross with the aim of providing “a better customer experience while ensuring patients receive the care they need” by integrating healthcare services with insurance coverage.
This comes as other tech giants like Amazon and Apple pursue similar ventures. According to Bloomberg, Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and J.P. Morgan partnered together in 2019 to create Haven. Similar to the Health Connect Plan, Haven works to address issues related to high health insurance costs and unimpressive health care service.
👉 Read more about Amazon's benefits here.
Microsoft benefits extend beyond health insurance. Another wellness-related perk is their “Stay Fit” reimbursement program. With this program, Microsoft will reimburse employees up to $1,200 per year for wellness-related expenses. The program is meant to assist people with maintaining their physical and emotional health. These funds may be used for a wide variety of services including (but not limited to) gym memberships, meditation services, weight-loss programs, caregiver support, and financial advising.
Microsoft’s on-campus health clinics at their Silicon Valley location and Redmond campus are meant to make receiving care as convenient as possible for employees. At the Living Well Health Center on the Redmond campus, employees have access to preventive care, physical therapy, a full pharmacy, and nutrition counseling. The on-campus clinics are not unique to Microsoft -- other tech companies like Facebook have their own -- but it is definitely a big benefit.
All in all, most full-time employees find the options provided cover most of their needs. One employee went so far as to say that:
“Microsoft is providing one of the best health insurances among tech companies.”
Photo credit: Business Insider
Part of Microsoft’s reputation is being the company where people “go to retire.” With this reputation, it’s not surprising that they have exceptional programs to help employees plan for the future. Microsoft offers both a 401k plan and an employee stock purchase plan.
With their 401k plan, Microsoft offers a $0.50 match for every pre-tax or Roth dollar saved, up to the IRS basic deferral limit. According to the IRS, the basic elective deferral limit for 2021 is $19,500. So according to Microsoft’s policy, an employee could contribute the max amount and they will contribute another $9,750. Your contribution and the Microsoft match are 100 percent vested from day one.
A current principal software engineering manager on Glassdoor was rather complimentary of the plan:
“401K contributions from [Microsoft] is great - adds to employee funds in long term. The free benefit provided… to manage the 401K funds is great too, as managing 401K via financial institutions increases the returns on the funds”
As this employee points out, managing one’s 401k and other financial responsibilities at Microsoft is made a little easier because of the financial planning services and loan refinancing program that the company offers.
Microsoft also gives employees the opportunity to become a shareholder in the company with their Employee Stock Purchase Program (ESPP). In the ESPP, employees get a 10% discount on stock.
This program is generous but also not unique to Microsoft as other tech companies -- including Apple, Netflix, and Salesforce -- have their own employee stock purchasing programs. On the other hand, tech giants such as Amazon, Facebook, and Google do not offer ESPPs, so this benefit is not universal in the tech world.
One person on Quora described these shares as a huge benefit:
“You can sell your ESPP shares as soon as they are purchased. There’s no required holding period. I know quite a few people that always immediately sell their shares. It’s free money. You’d be foolish not to take advantage of it."
👉 Stock options in the tech industry can be complicated. Learn more here.
Microsoft offers a loan refinancing program through which employees can consolidate and refinance their federal and private student loans.
Not sure how to manage the money you're making and save for the future? Microsoft offers guidance to assist you in your decisions about your benefits and investments so you can build a diversified portfolio suited to your financial situation.
Tuition reimbursement is also a benefit many use - Microsoft offers up to $10,000 annually to cover the cost of tuition, books, or fees at an accredited institution.
Photo credit: Business Insider
Microsoft’s paid-time-off (PTO) policy is comparable to other tech companies, so this benefit does not necessarily stand out.
Microsoft employees get up to 37 paid days off per year during their first 5 years with the company. This includes:
According to one employee on Quora, employees also have the opportunity to earn a week more of vacation -- 20 paid vacation days in all -- after 5 years at the company.
So, how does this stack up against the competition?
Google gives its employees three weeks paid vacation in their first year, but this can grow to four weeks after three years and five weeks after five years. Amazon, on the other hand, offers even less time off than Microsoft. Their employees get 10 paid vacation days in the first year and up to 20 after 6 years. In addition, Amazon employees generally only get 6 paid U.S. holidays. For now, it seems PTO is not an area where Microsoft is trying to innovate. Instead, they are sticking to a fairly standard policy, which allows for adequate work/life balance.
In terms of their other time-off policies, Microsoft offers generous parental and caregiver leave for employees that need it:
One employee on Glassdoor noted that there is not a culture pushing new parents to return soon:
“Haven't used it but plenty of people that I know have and they weren't pressured to get back to work right away like other companies. This company takes care of its people”
Microsoft’s parental leave policy is top-tier compared to other tech companies. According to Vox, only Netflix offers more time off than Microsoft. They have an “unlimited” parental leave policy -- meaning they have up to a year off.
Not only that but Microsoft reimburses up to 160 hours of childcare care expenses. The company has offered this benefit for a long time but substantially increased it over the last few years.
👉 Read more about Netflix's benefits here.
Photo credit: Business Insider
While the above employee benefits are the brunt of the program, it is also clear that Microsoft realizes living well includes more than time away, health benefits, and future planning. There are a number of different perks that Microsoft offers.
According to TechRepublic, “Starting in January 2018, [Microsoft] began offering assistance with fertility treatments; covered expenses include: Three fertility treatment cycles, genetic testing, and egg/embryo freezing and storage for up to four years.”
Additionally, “Microsoft offers adoption assistance up to $10,000 per child, and covers some surrogacy-related expenses.”
For one, employees get discounts on Microsoft products, like Azure, through the company store. A current Redmond campus employee reviewed the perks and said that:
“[The] company store offers a great discount on software and some reasonable discounts on hardware. You can also assign discounts to family members and friends so they can take advantage without needing to go through you.”
Along the lines of available discounts, the Microsoft PRIME mobile membership gives employees exclusive discounts on shopping, dining, travel, entertainment, and even car loans and mortgages. In addition to this, Microsoft offers other miscellaneous discounted services or paid opportunities for employees. For example, they have discounts on child care and tuition reimbursement for college courses, if they're related to Microsoft business.
They also encourage employees to give back to their communities through volunteer and donation matching programs. With volunteer matching, Microsoft will match employee donations of stock, cash, or products for up to $15,000.
Microsoft will also donate $25 for every hour their employee volunteers at an eligible organization.
While they may or may be not the best in the industry, it’s clear that Microsoft works to have benefits and perks that cover a diverse range of employee needs -- touching just about everything that someone could think of.
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