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Here are some of the most desirable job perks to take advantage of.

4 minute read

American workers no longer want a raise as a perk from their bosses. The benefit they want most is to get paid to be away from the office.

That’s what employee benefits site Unum found in their study of the most coveted employee work benefits. [1] Some of the most desired benefits were paid family leave, remote work options, and even paid volunteer work.

Here are some of the best and most desirable employee benefits to take advantage of if your job has them, or to consider if you’re currently job hunting.

1. Paid family leave

Unum found that the majority of workers (58 percent) want paid family leave from their employers. More specifically, 64 percent of millennials said so.

“It’s not surprising that paid family leave is the most coveted work perk, even for millennials,” Michelle Jackson, AVP of Regional Market Development at Unum said. “Research also suggests that a generous leave policy can lead to higher levels of employee engagement and a competitive edge to recruit and retain top talent.”

Workers normally take family leave to care for their new child, or for a sick family member.

2. Flexible and remote work options

At the second most popular work benefit, 55 percent of workers said they want to work from home or work varying hours, according to Unum.

Seventy-three percent of workers feel having a flexible schedule is one of their top reasons to stay with a company, says a poll from Capital One. [2] And 85 percent say it allows them to think more creatively.

“Professionals today have high expectations for their experience in the workplace and what their employer provides for them,” says Stefanie Spurlin, a VP at Capital One. “By providing dynamic spaces to accommodate all kinds of work styles, companies can help facilitate the kind of collaboration and innovation that empowers employees to create breakthrough products and solutions for their customers.”

Workers want employers to give them the most amount of flexibility that caters to their work style. Flexible hours were the No. 1 priority employees said they’re looking for in a new company. There’s a high demand for nontraditional workspaces and times, as most employees want to work anytime, anywhere.

3. Student loan repayment assistance

With borrowers holding a whopping $1.5 trillion in student loans nationally, it’s no surprise people want help repaying their loans.

Unum found 35 percent of workers would like help repaying their student loans. More than half of millennials (55 percent) say the same.

But only 4 percent of employers currently offer their employees assistance or incentive to repay student loans. Here are a few companies paving the way, according to Forbes: [3]

  • Fidelity: Employees up to the manager level are eligible to receive up to $2,000 per year toward their student loans.
  • Aetna: Full-time employees get $2,000 matched for student loan payments per year, and part-time employees get $1,000.
  • Penguin Random House: Full-time employees get $1,200 a year toward their student loans if you’ve worked there for a year.

4. Group insurance plans

Most companies that offer health insurance to employees also offer group insurance plans that cover outside costs like childcare and travel. The only problem is, Americans don’t know about them.

Only 44 percent of Americans with work health insurance are aware of their company’s group insurance options, says a survey from Securian Financial Group.

Outside car and basic health insurance, most people aren’t sure what’s worth it and don’t pay attention. Traditional healthcare plans only cover a portion of specific medical procedures, testing, treatments, and hospital visits — there are still many out-of-pocket expenses that are not covered. Roughly 25 percent of American households struggle to pay their medical bills, especially when treatment involves long-term or high-intensity care, says Aegis Security Insurance. [4]

According to the survey, 28 percent with health insurance through work who faced an out-of-pocket expense of $5,000 or more would use their personal savings to pay. Only seven percent would use supplemental group insurance to pay.

The top financial concern for many employees (42 percent) facing a critical illness, injury, or hospitalization is affording the out-of-pocket expenses.

5. A bonus — for being better with money

Bosses want their employees to be smarter about money — and not even the company’s money.

Because U.S. workers suffer so much personal debt, it’s affecting their jobs, says a joint study from Fidelity and nonprofit organization National Business Group on Health (NBGH). [5]

To improve their personal debt, companies offering financial incentives as a well-being program are increasing in popularity. Eighty-six percent now offer them, compared to 74 percent last year. And the amount they’re willing to give employees has steadily been on the rise, too. What was $784 in 2018, was $742 the year before, and only $521 six years ago.

Sixty-seven percent plan to add to their company’s well-being programs over the next three to five years. And 29 percent plan for them to be financial incentives for workers who show better financial behavior.

“The fact that companies continue to dedicate an increasing amount of resources to their corporate well-being programs indicates they are having a positive impact on overall workforce performance,” says Fidelity VP Robert Kennedy. “An employer’s well-being programs are now overwhelmingly viewed as a platform to improve employee engagement, increase worker productivity, and reduce absenteeism.”

6. Fitness goal incentives

More companies throughout the U.S. are implementing some kind of wellness program for their employees. [6] Wellness programs are designed to promote health and fitness to employees to create a better work environment and reduce stress.

Some are set up to educate employees to quit smoking, manage diabetes, or lose weight. Some companies offer discounted gym memberships and preventative health screenings through work.

Unum found that 18 percent of employees say they want financial incentives to achieve their fitness goals.

Money is still the biggest stressor in the U.S., says the American Psychology Association, and has been for the past 10 years since the APA began their study on stress in America. [7] So by encouraging their employees to work out, and offering financial incentives to do so, they’re knocking out two stressors.

7. Other weird perks

People love bonuses and help to repay their student loans, but they also love these more unique work benefits, according to Unum:

  • Gym membership/onsite fitness center: 36 percent
  • Free snacks: 28 percent
  • Pet insurance: 15 percent
  • Paid volunteer hours: 12 percent

Now that you know some of the most popular workplace benefits if you’re interested in looking for a job, check out 3 Simple Steps to Getting Hired.

Cameren Boatner contributed to this report.

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About the Author

Gideon Grudo

Gideon Grudo

Grudo is a freelance writer, editor, and content strategist based in Brooklyn, NY. Previously he was the digital editor of Air Force Magazine and the managing editor of South Florida Gay News.

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