80% of Job Seekers Prefer Better Benefits Than a Salary Increase

Jan 22, 2019
| Michael Altiero
Job seekers want better benefits

Employers are trying new methods and altering strategies to boost recruiting efforts as the market continues to grow more competitive.

Hiring top talent continues to be listed as one of the top challenges employers today (both large and small) face. Some employers struggle to overcome this issue, but a recent report from the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) may provide a solution.

While many hiring managers would think that offering more salary is the best way to recruit new talent, new data reveals that another thing can actually influence a candidate’s decision even more – workplace and employee benefits.

Workers Value Benefits More Than a Salary Increase

The AICPA survey was conducted online in late April 2018 by over 2,000 adults, with 1,115 of them being employed either full-time or part time.

The first and perhaps biggest finding from the survey is that by a 4 to 1 margin, employees would choose a job with benefits over a similar job that offered a 30% salary increase but no benefits.

The survey also showed that U.S. workers overestimate the value of their benefits in terms of total compensation. Employed adults estimated that their benefits made up about 40% of their total compensation. However, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that benefits make up around 31% to 32% of a total compensation package.

Employee Thoughts on Their Benefits

A common concern employers and industry experts have when it comes to benefits is if workers are fully aware of what is offered by their employer. However, the AICPA report revealed that 88% of adults are confident they understood all the benefits available to them when they joined their organization.

Additionally, 86% said they are confident that they have stayed aware with all changes made to their benefits and offerings, and 86% said they knew how to get information about their benefits and how to use them.

However, not all the data was positive. Just 28% of adults are very confident that they are using their benefits to their fullest potential.

This highlights the importance of training and communication around employee benefits, what’s available, how to use them, as well as providing employees with somewhere to go with any benefits-related questions.

Which Benefits Do Employees Want the Most?

The last part of the survey dove into the kinds of benefits that employees said would help them reach their financial goals. Taking a look at the total workforce, here were the top 5:
  • 401k with match – 56%
  • Health insurance – 56%
  • Paid time off (PTO) – 33%
  • Pension – 31%
  • Flexible working hours – 21%

The report also broke out the results of this section to show the different responses between Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers. Among these findings, Millennials view benefits that impact work-life balance (PTO, flexible work hours, remote working, etc.) in higher regard than do Gen X or Baby Boomers.

It’s important for employers to keep things like this in mind when looking to enhance their benefit offerings so that it is valuable to employees of various ages.

Employers Cannot Undervalue Benefits in Today’s Recruiting Market

As employers continue to face challenges with recruiting, they cannot overlook the importance of employee benefits in attracting and ultimately hiring top talent.

Small employers, too, should explore solutions that can help make their benefit offerings competitive in today’s landscape. Partnering with a professional employer organization (PEO) is one option available to small business leaders that can help enhance employee benefit plans.

Benefits will continue to play a vital role for employers as they attempt to overcome their recruiting challenges in the years to come.

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