According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 61 million Gen Z’ers will prepare to enter the workforce in 2018. These are the post 1996 babies who’ve grown up with Smart phones in their hands, and technology at their fingertips. And while pay and job satisfaction will be the most important deciding factors for prospective employees, benefits that help individuals better balance work, health, and family will be critical for this generation.
In fact, in a recent Glassdoor Employment Confidence Survey, more than half of those asked said that employer benefits definitely influenced their decision about whether to accept a job opportunity from a particular employer. Most surprising however, was that 80% of respondents said they would rather be compensated with additional benefits over a raise in pay.
Some top-rated corporations including, Starbucks offer perks like the Starbucks College Achievement Plan that covers the cost of a Bachelor’s degree. Others including Google, offer yoga classes, and massages while SAS grants scholarships for children of employees.
Not all prospective employees view benefits the same, however.
As noted in the Harvard Business Review, studies suggest there are differences between men and women and how they prioritize company benefits.
Here’s how the top 10 rank in order of importance, for both sexes.
1. Health, Dental & Vision Insurance
While both men and women put medical benefits at the top of their list when deciding whether to accept a position, women actually rank these benefits higher by 14%, according to an employee benefit survey conducted with 2000 participants. In fact, 61% of women vs. 47% of men said they would take medical benefits into serious consideration when deciding on an employment opportunity.
2. Flexible Work Schedule
The ability to modify their work schedule appeals to many employees, especially if they have families. Medical appointments, school functions and personal errands can be handled without having to miss a day of work. Employers are happy since they don’t have to sacrifice productivity, and employees feel the freedom to choose which days they need to get things done without compromising work or pay. Not surprising, women tend to value this benefit more highly than men, (47% to 38%) since they tend to take on more of the caretaking responsibilities for family members.
3. More Vacation Time
More women (40%) than men (32%) said they valued more vacation time over other benefits. According to a study conducted for a top hotel chain. Men tend to vacation about every 12 months, while women say they get away every 10 months.
4. Work-at-Home Option
The greatest difference between men and women and the benefits they value most, involves the ability to work from home. Roughly 15% more women than men said that this option would be weighted heavily when making a decision to work with a specific employer. In one Stanford University study, the rate of employee turnover was reduced by 50% when employers offered the work-at-home option.
5. Unlimited Vacation
Another important employee perk involves unlimited vacation. Women (44%) rank this high on the list of benefits compared to men (37%). Some companies including Netflix offer unlimited vacation, though many employees across the board seem unsure about how much time off is acceptable. They worry about how prolonged periods of vacation will be viewed by bosses and other coworkers. Productivity and continuity of work may also be of concern.
6. Student Loan Assistance
Possibly because many more women than men put career plans on hold while raising a family, student loan assistance is more highly valued by females (24% vs. 20%). Financially stretched already by the time they enter the workforce, many women benefit tremendously from the added bonus of employer supported student loan assistance.
7. Tuition Assistance
Both sexes seem to place importance on tuition assistance benefits when considering employment opportunities with comparable pay. Women said that help with college costs would affect their decision to accept employment with a particular employer only slightly more (2%) than men. More and more employers are beginning to offer this benefit and see the advantage of retaining employees by investing in their future.
8. Paid Maternity/Paternity Leave
Although the federal FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) requires employers with 50 or more employees to grant unpaid leave for up to 12 weeks, only a handful of states including California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and New York offer paid time off to bond with newborns, and adopted children. Some employers also choose to offer paid maternity and paternity leave as part of their benefits package as well. Roughly 10% more women than men said they would highly consider paid leave when making employment decisions.
9. Free Gym Membership
Employers know that better health and fitness equal greater productivity in the workplace, and less time off for medical reasons. And while both sexes seemed to value free gym membership, ranking it 9th overall in importance, men actually value it a little more. When asked how important this benefit would be, 12% of men said it would be an important factor in deciding whether or not to accept a job compared to 11% of women.
10. Free Daycare Services
According to the national organization, Childcare Aware, U.S. employers lose a collective $4.4 billion each year as a result of childcare related absenteeism. More and more companies recognize the importance of offering on-site daycare and report an increase in employee productivity, as well as a decline in company sick days. Women value free daycare more than men, by a margin of 10%.
When comparing opportunities for employment, no longer are individuals just willing to look at pay and job satisfaction anymore. Ultimately it comes down to, “How will this employer help me balance work, health, and family the best?” As more and more companies move forward with better benefits, employee production and retention numbers will increase as well.