What’s More Important at Work: Better Perks and Benefits or a Higher Salary?

job satisfaction

If you’re currently on the job market or considering looking for a new job soon, you’ll want to take stock of your “new employer wish list” and evaluate the things you want from a new job that you consider non-negotiable, important but not necessary, or nice but completely non-essential.

For example, for some people, quality, affordable health insurance for themselves and their families is a must-have, while a free gym membership may be totally irrelevant. Perhaps flex time or the option to work remotely is at the top of your list, but maybe paid parental leave doesn’t matter at all.

Giving some thought to the kind of job offer and benefits package that aligns with your goals, lifestyle, family situation and overall priorities, is a highly personal decision. And, with unemployment at record lows and the US experiencing an unusually tight labor market, job seekers are in the best position right now to negotiate for the offer that best matches their wants and needs. But, first, you need to define them!

According to recently released statistics by SCORE, a business mentoring network in the US, employee perks not only attract better, more qualified employees, but they are also such a powerful selling point that they even boost employee retention and job satisfaction levels. In fact, SCORE reports that benefits and perks in the workplace are often more important to employees than higher pay.

Here is SCORE’s breakdown of the percentage of employees who took the following perks/benefits into account when choosing an employer:

  • Flexible hours: 88%
  • More vacation time: 80%
  • Work-from-home options: 80%
  • Student loan assistance: 48%
  • Paid parental leave: 42%
  • Free gym membership: 39%
  • Free snacks: 32%
  • Weekly free outings: 24%

What’s more, SCORE reported how these perks contributed to overall employee satisfaction. Here’s what they found:

  • 53% of employees reported more perks in the workplace increased their quality of life.
  • 49% of employees said more perks made them feel valued as a team member.
  • 44% said perks at work directly improved their physical or mental health.

SCORE also references a 2015 survey by Glassdoor that reported 4 out of 5 employees preferred additional benefits or perks to a pay increase, with women and younger employees (18-34) as the largest demographics that placed more value on benefits rather than salary.

They also broke down the most popular types of benefits that employees cared more about than having a higher salary. Here were their top 10:

  1. Healthcare
  2. Vacation/PTO
  3. Performance bonus
  4. Paid sick days
  5. 401k
  6. Flexible Schedules
  7. Office perks (free lunch, casual dress, etc.)
  8. Employee development programs
  9. Tuition reimbursement
  10. Employee discounts

Because it is a job seeker’s market, it’s more important than ever to go into the interview or job offer negotiations with a firm grasp on the types of benefits, perks, and salary requirements you want and need to achieve your professional and personal goals.

Before your next job interview, take a few minutes and make a list of yoru most important “needs” from an employer. Note the benefits you’re willing to give up if the job is right for you, but also remain clear on the items that you absolutely know you need in order to be comfortable, happy, and productive. The more self-aware you are of your own hiring needs from the outset, the stronger and more confident you’ll be when it comes to negotiating your ideal employment package.

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