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Why Some Employees Consider Benefits More Important than Salary

  • Employee Benefits
  • Article
  • 6 min. Read
  • Last Updated: 03/01/2017

Company benefits may be more important than salary.
Employees may prefer benefits such as a 401(k) or health insurance to a maximized salary. Here are some reasons why money may not be the most valuable thing you can offer to your employees.

Table of Contents

Small businesses are faced with a dilemma. With a finite amount of money, should they offer a robust benefits package or focus on maximizing employee salaries? When your business offers a 401(k), health insurance, or a combination of employee benefits, their effect on employee morale and retention may actually surpass that of a larger paycheck with fewer, or no, benefits.

For example, a recent Harris Poll revealed that 4 out of 5 American workers would rather receive an upgrade in their benefits package than an increase in pay. So, why do employees often value benefits over maximizing their salary?

harris poll data on benefits

Health Scares Can be Expensive

The cost of a sudden health crisis may negate any extra salary an employee may have earned. In 2013, unpaid medical bills were one of the most common reasons a person was forced to file bankruptcy. As a whole, Aetna reports that health care spending may account for 20 percent of the US gross domestic product (GDP) by 2021—one-fifth of the US economy. Therefore having health insurance may be the most valuable benefit an employee can receive.

Kickstarting the Future is Important

Americans' retirement savings are at an all-time low. Offering a 401(k) or similar retirement account may help your employees and their families meet their retirement goals. Employers also have the option to match contributions to help grow retirement funds faster. An employee who receives "free money" from their employer each year (which may be compounded over time) may find it worth more than a salary in the long run. Measure the possibility for yourself; what would compound interest do for your employees?

It's Not Only About your Employees

Some of your employees need to also take care of their families. Benefits like life insurance, and short- and long-term disability, are taken seriously by employees. If something were to happen to them, how can they feel sure that their family will be taken care of? If your employees are the only ones who can provide insurance coverage for their entire family, a larger paycheck won't always help with the major expense of ancillary coverage that their family will need.

There is no question about it: benefits can be a much more meaningful offering to employees than a maximized salary. Not only can benefits potentially be worth more monetarily over time, they may also offer priceless piece of mind that can alleviate some of the stress your employees feel at work and at home. That’s a benefit anyone can appreciate.



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* This content is for educational purposes only, is not intended to provide specific legal advice, and should not be used as a substitute for the legal advice of a qualified attorney or other professional. The information may not reflect the most current legal developments, may be changed without notice and is not guaranteed to be complete, correct, or up-to-date.

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