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Employee Engagement

Survey says! Can you guess which benefits working Americans care about the most?

Here's a look at the latest benefits-related research and the implications for those who spearhead hiring.

There’s no doubt that American workers think highly of flexible benefits packages. In fact, the quality of benefits like health insurance will often make the difference when prospects are weighing their employment options.

Still, some HR professionals haven’t taken the time to consider which benefits are most important to employees and why certain benefits are more popular than others.

Here’s a look at the latest benefits-related research and the implications for those who spearhead hiring.

Benefits vs. pay

Perhaps the biggest finding among a slew of recent surveys from Glassdoor, is that four out of five American workers would prefer new or additional benefits over an increase in pay.

It’s also interesting to note that women (82%) value benefits more than pay increases at a rate slightly higher than men (76%), and employees with children (89%) are more benefits-focused than those without (73%).

Digging into the demographics even further, Glassdoor researchers found that 90% of millennials (ages 18-34) would forgo a pay raise if it meant better benefits, while just 70% of Gen Xers (45 to 54) and 66% of those ages 55 to 64 indicate they would do the same.

Along similar lines, a 2016 survey of 2,000 employees asked respondents if they had to decide between a high-paying job with fewer benefits and a lower-paying job with more benefits, which benefits would sway their decision the most?

Men and women alike put health, dental, and vision insurance at the top of their lists, with 41% of men and 61% of women saying such insurance might persuade them to take a job with less pay.

Beyond that, the respondents said they’d take flexible hours (38% of men, 47% of women), more vacation time (32%, 40%), work-from-home options (40%, 55%), and unlimited vacation time (33%, 47%) into heaviest consideration as they weighed their job offers.

What’s most important to working parents?

While Glassdoor scratched the surface of the working parent’s take on benefits, others have examined preferences in greater detail. A recent survey of nearly 1,200 parents found that employees with children rate work flexibility (84%) and work-life balance (80%) among the “most important” factors when they consider new job opportunities.

Other factors parents rate highly include health insurance (42%), and 401(k)/retirement benefits (29%). In terms of the flexible work arrangements that are “most in-demand” among working parents, 89% want the option of telecommuting all the time, 74% want flexible schedules, and 51% want part-time schedules.

In other research,’s “2017 Cost of Care Survey” found that 85% of working parents “wish their employer offered” child care benefits, and 52% said their employer “should provide benefits” to support working families.

Child care costs were found to influence the career decisions of 63% of working parents, and actually lead many to change jobs or ask for a part-time schedule.

Benefits drive employee satisfaction

The bottom line when it comes to benefits packages and their importance to American employees is that better benefits lead to happier workers. More than 80% of employees with “high benefits satisfaction report high job satisfaction,” Glassdoor found, while 57% of job candidates say that benefits are “among their top considerations before accepting a job.”

Candidates rank health insurance as their top priority (40%), followed by vacation/paid time off (37%), performance bonuses (35%), paid sick days (32%), and retirement plans or pensions (31%).

The message for HR leaders looking for new recruits or hoping to keep their best and brightest is clear. Make sure your organization is providing a competitive benefits plan that is flexible enough to meet the needs of a diverse workforce.

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