Why Office Perks Really Are Better Than Higher Pay


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.” You’ll want to evaluate the things you want from a new job- things that you consider non-negotiable, important but not necessary, or nice but completely non essential. 

Employees no longer expect to remain within one company for their entire career, nor do they want to. The promise of stability offered by blue chip corporations isn’t worth as much as it once was, especially not when compared to the perceived advantages offered by startups, well-funded tech giants, and even freelance work. 

What do employees value more- a higher salary or outstanding benefits?

According to several business leaders, the perks of one’s job are often worth more than financial compensation. More and more, companies are coming up with unique employee benefits that will attract and retain top talent. It all begs the question: what employee perks and benefits do employees want most?

To attract and retain the most in-demand workers, companies are expanding their arsenal and arming themselves with a host of unconventional perks and benefits, many of which are modeled on the very particular kind of modern worker utopia that’s identified with Silicon Valley. It’s a land where every day is casual Friday, and happy hour starts whenever. A land of open floor plan offices where employees’ dogs roam free. Of game rooms and gourmet cafeterias, nap pods and even unlimited vacation policies.

The Perks of Benefits

Compensation is the major selling point of any job. Pay is a significant discussion point between employers and candidates during the job offer negotiation stage, and of course, everyone wants to be paid what they’re worth. 

Salary is negotiable- a benefits package, on the other hand, is more or less equal throughout a company. It turns out that both potential and current team members care a lot more about their benefits than expected. While dental or vision coverage is given, more employers realize the value of an employee perks program in talent acquisition or retention, and thus, they’re becoming a standard in companies. In the war for talent, it’s the unexpected employee perks that set companies apart.

Giving some thought to the kind of job offer and benefits package that aligns with your goals, lifestyle, family situation and over 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!

How Valuable Are Benefits and Perks?

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 often 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 contribute to overall employee satisfaction. Here’s what they found: 

  • 53% of employees said more perks made them feel valued as a team member

  • 44% said perks at work directly improved their physical and/or mental health

SCORE also references a 2015 survey by Glassdoor. According to Glassdoor’s Q3 2015 Employment Confidence Survey, nearly four in five (79%) of employees would prefer new or additional benefits to a pay increase. Specifically, more women (82%) than men (76%) prefer benefits or perks to a pay raise. And, younger employees aged 18-34 (89%) and 35-44 (84%) prefer benefits or perks to pay raises when compared to those aged 45-54 (70%) and 55-64 (66%).

Types of Benefits/Perks Valued More Than Pay Raises

Many companies are shifting from offering competitive salaries to creative, attractive benefit packages for employees. Employee benefits can come in all shapes and sizes, and are certainly not limited to health insurance; although, this matter is often the most discussed, as medical and dental bills eat up the largest amount of attention and costs.

Looking at health insurance, benefits have become more desirable than higher salaries. The reason for this is not necessarily because employee preferences have changed, but rather because of health insurance tendencies. As health insurance costs have grown in the past ten years, many employees’ salaries end up being sent straight to paying these exorbitant costs. According to a Commonwealth Funds study, health insurance premiums increased 60% between 2003 and 2013, while seeing only an 11% increase in income.

However, employee benefits can wear other costumes as well. For example, vacation time and paid time off are among the highest benefit desires. In today’s day and age, where travel and communication has been extraordinarily easier than it was even five years ago, and also adopting a more “European” mentality of valuing the importance of vacation, the U.S. has also seen a spike in cravings for more vacation time in lieu of higher income. 

Having a flexible schedule is also a newer trend among the current generation. Freelancing and working in cafés have become quite the trend, especially in major cities, but also in smaller locations as well. Working from home one afternoon or morning per week can allow an employee to accomplish other lifestyle tasks. Additionally, avoiding a strict 9-5 schedule has become essential. Many employers feel that as long as their employees put in the hours and work is accomplished with quality effort, it doesn’t matter if every employee is in the office from 9-5, or form 11-7. Again, this flexibility permits many employees to tend to household and life routines, not to mention caring for small children- ultimately allowing employees to be more productive in the office because of the decreased stress outside of work. 

There are a myriad of other existing employee benefits, including gym memberships, child assistance, pet insurance, paid parental leave, employee discounts, and more. But the fact of the matter is clear: there has been a vast increase in employees feeling that benefits are more desirable than receiving higher income, and companies have certainly taken notice. 

Final Thoughts

Cash isn’t necessarily the be all and end all for employees as employers might think. Team members want to feel appreciated, and there is a myriad of ways to do that- whether it’s through promotion nutrition and fitness programs in the office or letting your people telecommute. The perks that work are the ones that support your people in becoming the best they can be-- at work and outside of it too.