White yellow hard safety helmet. Vacation and flexibility are the benefits workers want.

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More prefer flexible schedules and vacation time now.

Letting employees work from home and paying for them to travel outweighs giving them a pay raise.

Four in five workers prefer getting work benefits and perks to an increase in pay, says a study from small business mentoring site SCORE. And these perks have no real cash value. Here’s a look at what workers want…

  • Flexible hours: 88 percent
  • More vacation time: 80 percent
  • Ability to work remotely: 80 percent
  • Student loan repayment assistance: 48 percent
  • Paid parental leave: 42 percent
  • Free gym membership: 39 percent
  • Free snacks: 32 percent

The economy is in better shape, can’t we get a raise now?

Wages have grown at their fastest pace since 2009, according to financial information site MarketWatch. The U.S. created 200,000 jobs in January of 2018 alone. Unemployment is at its lowest rate in 17 years, at 4.1 percent.

Yet still, workers’ wages and salaries now make up 68.2 percent of their total compensation, according to a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The remaining 31.8 percent was made up of benefit costs. Meaning, workers are only taking home three-fifths of the total work compensation. However, SCORE’s study determined that 42 percent of full-time workers don’t receive any work perks.

Seventy-nine percent of workers also said they preferred benefits and perks from work than a pay increase, according to career site Glassdoor. Women and younger workers were most likely to claim this preference. One major work benefit not mentioned in SCORE’s study was No. 1 on its list  Health insurance.

“As the U.S. economy continues to expand and job market confidence continues to rise, there is no doubt it is a job seeker’s market,” says Glassdoor career and workplace expert Rusty Rueff. “This is a clear signal to employers that in order to compete in today’s labor market, it’s not just about salary and compensation, employers should be communicating clearly about non-traditional compensation. Recruiters should take note that touting the benefits and perks offered can help win talent of different demographics, industries, and occupations.”

The importance of health insurance

Health insurance is the most expensive benefit for companies to provide. That could be one reason it’s the most sought after.

The average emergency room visit costs $1,233, according to research from the National Institute of Health. In 2016, it cost companies $6,435 for individual employee coverage and $18,142 for family coverage. No wonder 88 percent of workers say they consider better health, dental, and vision insurance to be the most desirable benefit when job hunting.

On top of that, 60 percent of workers are likely to take a job with lower pay if offered better benefits, says a study from insurance provider Aflac. And 16 percent have turned down a job in the last year due to benefits.

“Employees are concerned because both medical treatment and health insurance are so expensive,”  Chris Wolpert, managing member of Group Benefit Solutions, a group of health insurance and benefits consultants told marketing research marketing firm Clutch.

“If you offer health insurance, it will benefit you because you’ll have more productive, healthier employees,” she says. “People are a valued asset. Offering these benefits and educating employees on how to utilize them is an investment in workers and in their long-term health.”

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Joe Pye

Joe Pye

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Pye is the associate editor of



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