Which Benefits and Voluntary Perks Do Employees Want Most?

Sep 16, 2019
| Extensis Benefits Team

Employee benefits and perks continue to grow more important for employers, including small and medium-sized businesses.

With the talent market more competitive than ever, companies of all sizes are continuously looking to add new benefits to attract top talent and retain current employees.

But making sure that the right benefits and perks are being added is critical for business leaders, especially small employers. New survey results from Unum explore some of the benefits and perks that are most sought after, such as voluntary offerings, as well as how well workers understand these types of benefits.

Which Work Perks do Employees Want?

The first survey from Unum was taken by 1,227 working adults in the United States and explored which perks employees want most today.

The number one in-demand workplace perk was paid family leave, with 58% of respondents selecting this benefit. This was even higher for Millennial workers at 64%.

Other top requested perks and benefits include:
  • Flexible and remote working schedules – 55%
  • Professional development – 39%
  • Student loan assistance programs – 35%
  • Identity theft protection – 28%
  • Financial planning resources – 27%
  • Pet-friendly workplaces – 15%
  • Pet insurance – 15%
  • Dedicated volunteer hours – 12%

When looking specifically at Millennials, other data shows just how important paid parental leave is to this generation. 86% are less likely to leave a job if they are offered paid leave, while 40% would move to another country if it meant getting better benefits.

The survey also showed the top 5 perks most requested by Millennials:
  • Paid leave – 64%
  • Student loan assistance – 55%
  • Flexible or remote working schedules – 49%
  • Extended time away from work – 42%
  • Professional development – 39%

Younger Workers Want Voluntary Benefits, But Don’t Understand Them

The second Unum survey explored voluntary benefits and how well workers today actually understand them, with 1,512 U.S. workers participating.

The results showed that the majority of workers plan to elect most of the voluntary benefits they are offered, with only critical illness insurance under 50%.

However, workers (especially younger employees) appear to not fully understand all of the voluntary benefits that they can and do enroll in. The top 5 voluntary perks that workers least understand were:
  • Long-term disability – 13%
  • Accident – 12%
  • Short-term disability – 11%
  • Critical illness – 10%
  • Hospital – 8%

Perhaps the main reason for the confusion is the amount of time employees spend reviewing benefits before enrolling. Overall, half of all survey takers spend 30 minutes or less on this task. Here is the breakdown for the percentage of each generation that said they spend 30 minutes or less reviewing their benefit options:
  • Gen Z – 54%
  • Gen X – 52%
  • Millennials – 51%
  • Baby Boomers – 47%

Last, the survey revealed how employees want to learn about the benefits they are offered by their employers:
  • Printed materials – 29%
  • Online resources – 22%
  • Group meeting with an advisor – 15%
  • Individual meeting with an advisor – 14%
  • Mobile apps – 10%
  • Video conference – 4%
  • Phone call with an advisor – 4%

Voluntary Benefits Are Important for Employee Retention and Attraction

With more options available to them today than in years past, workers have gained the upper hand in the job market. This means they can be more selective in potential employers and can be more inclined to leave their current role in order to obtain better benefits or an increased salary.

These trends mean that small businesses must find ways to continuously add employee benefits and voluntary perks that meet (or exceed) the expectations of today’s worker, while also offering competitive pay.

Doing these can help businesses worry less about recruiting and retention, and ultimately lead to company success over time!

One area of HR is becoming increasingly more difficult for small employers to properly handle — maintaining compliance with employment laws. Download our eBook, Guide to Employment Law: Topics Employers Must Know to Stay Compliant, to learn more about some of the biggest trends and topics in employment law.

Guide to Employment Law eBook