Are benefits more important than salary?

Written by Mairead Simons

Two-thirds (66%) of employees in the UK believe that the employee benefits offered to them are equal to or more important than their basic salary, according to research by corporate gift organisation Adler. But is this the same opinion held by employees in the UK? There is no doubt that extra days of holiday or a private health care plan can definitely persuade a candidate to choose one position over another, however, how many candidates would take a lower salary in return for a higher amount of benefits?

A survey of 1,000 UK employees by Employeebenefits.com in 2019 found that 14% would accept an increase in benefits over a pay rise, while 49% would reconsider applying for a job based on the available benefits package. This shows that while employees might not necessarily take a position with a lower salary and better benefits package, the whole package is so important when considering a new role. However, two-thirds of us are said to believe that benefits are at least of equal importance to the basic salary.

In countries like America, where healthcare isn’t free, health insurance can be the biggest incentive for a company to give out. A company that offers free health care to all employees can entice many more into the company, regardless of the salary. However, in the UK where the NHS operate, a healthcare package wouldn’t often be enough to persuade somebody to take a job, so salary requirements need to be taken into consideration.

An employee with 25 days holiday, as opposed to the standard 20, may feel more valued by their company and feel they have enough time to destress throughout the year, leading to a better work-life balance and better overall job satisfaction. Health insurance was voted as the most valued benefit in the US, followed by their equivalent of a pension. A company pension can be a huge benefit for employees and can be a great way to make employees feel supported.

The most sought after benefits for employees in 2020 included remote work, flexible hours and a 4-day working week. This is highly reflective of the post-pandemic days we live in, with more people have adapted to the ‘new normal’, and not wanting to return to work long hours in the office anymore. To keep up with the times, employers should be able to offer more flexible working for employees, and this paired with a salary which is suitable is often the key for success when recruiting in this day and age. Speaking from experience, many candidates are easily swayed by flexibility and will often take a lower salary in exchange for working comfortably at home as opposed to in the office.

It is key to get a good balance between benefits and salary in order to keep and retain the best talent.

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