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 insurances 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 become 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 craving for more vacation time in lieu of a 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 the work is accomplished with quality effort, it doesn’t matter if every employee is in the office from 9-5, or from 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.
There are myriad 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 a higher income, and companies have certainly taken notice.