It’s Not About the Benjamins: Why It’s Time to Give Your Employees Benefits

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GamesNowadays, offering your employees a fat paycheck may not be enough to get them to stick around.

During the recession, a lot of companies understandably cut perks and benefits. To keep the doors open, things like tuition reimbursement, paid leave, and health insurance had to be scaled back or done away with altogether.

As the economy slowly recovers, some companies are reinstating the perks and benefits they had to slash, but others have been slow to take corrective action — if they’ve taken action at all.

Glassdoor has some bad news for these laggards: According to a new study, 79 percent of employees would rather have “new or additional benefits” than a pay increase. The demand for perks is especially pronounced among younger workers, with 89 percent of 18-34-year-olds and 84 percent of 35-44-year-olds preferring benefits to wage increases.

Glassdoor spokesperson Samantha Zupan says companies should be heeding the call for perks and benefits, or else they may see their best talent walk.

“The Glassdoor Employment Confidence Survey shows that 15 percent of employees report feeling concerned they may be laid off in the next six months, which has declined significantly since the height of the recession,” Zupan says. “Plus, considering 54 percent of employees are confident in their ability to find a new job in the next six months — a new high in more than six years — there’s no question it is a job seeker’s market.”

In other words: The talent market is tilting steadily in favor of candidates and employees. An employer that doesn’t give employees the perks they want will likely lose its best workers to the companies that will provide those perks.

For Today’s Employees, Work Means More Than Wages

The reason so many of today’s employees want benefits and perks more than they want bigger paychecks is because, to them, “work is more than just a paycheck,” Zupan says.

“For many employees today … work is where you spend a large portion of your life, often away from family and friends,” Zupan explains. “We’re seeing a shift in what employees value in the workplace as we move from a skill-based economy to a knowledge-based one. In a business where people are bringing more of their whole selves to work, they don’t just want money: They want to feel like part of something bigger.”

TrainZupan’s comments align with the results of recent studies. Employees want things like flexible work options and the ability to make the world a better place. They want to make positive impacts on society, and they want to work with employers who will help them do just that. Along the way, they want employers to nurture them, to provide them with an environment in which they can thrive. Perks and benefits — including everything from health insurance to free meals — help to create just such an environment.

What Perks Should Employers Provide?

Perks and benefits are not a one-size-fits-all matter. Not every company’s employees will want to same things. According to Zupan, the “best place to start is to know what your own employees want and what [they] already value.”

Organizations can obtain this information through surveys, team meetings, and employee-manager conversations. They can also turn to sites like Glassdoor, where employees leave anonymous feedback about their companies and what they want from employers.

“Find out what your employees have to say … about your current benefits and perks so you can assess what’s really valuable and what can be improved,” Zupan says.

For a more general view of what the workforce wants, employers can take a look at the full results of Glassdoor’s survey. Among the most desired perks and benefits are:

  1. Health insurance (40 percent of employees want this).
  2. Vacation time/PTO (37 percent).
  3. Performance bonuses (35 percent).
  4. Paid sick days (32 percent).
  5. 401(k) plans, retirement plans, and/or pensions (31 percent).

Some of the less-desired — though still notable — perks include diversity programs, commuter assistance, and stock options.

If you want your best workers to stay engaged, fulfilled, and satisfied at work, you’ll need to assess the perks and benefits you’re offering them. Money’s not enough to retain top talent in today’s market.

Read more in Employee Benefits

Matthew Kosinski is the former managing editor of