Time Off Work Is Most Wanted Job Benefit (Besides Insurance)

Time Off Work Is Most Wanted Job Benefit (Besides Insurance)

Paid breaks, remote work options top list of employee perks in new survey
A picnic with friends

One of the best ways employers can show their staff that they are valued is by giving them license to steer clear from the office, a new survey shows.

More than a third of workers (35%) cited generous paid time off as among their most desired job perks, making it the most popular benefit among employees, according to recently released research from benefits provider Unum. The survey looked at all commonly offered job perks other than insurance and retirement benefits, allowing respondents to choose up to three benefits that they considered the most desirable.

The findings show that when it comes to making the job more tolerable, workers not only want time away to recharge, but also just a chance to handle tasks from home and avoid the workplace.

The less office time, the better

While some employees may dream of time off for a vacation, even just time working away from the office proved popular. The No. 2 most valued perk, cited by 27%, was having the ability to work remotely rather than checking in at the worksite each day.

No. 3 on the list, cited by 24% of respondents, was paid family leave. Women were more keen on this benefit, with 27% naming it as desirable, compared with 21% of men.

This isn’t too surprising, since women are often the primary caregivers in the family and may have more pressures balancing their personal lives with their careers. An earlier survey found that 1 in 4 women were thinking about leaving the workforce or taking a smaller work role because of added personal pressures during the pandemic.

Interestingly, while baby boomers, Generation X and millennials all named paid time off as their most-wanted benefit, respondents in Generation Z had other priorities. Among Gen Z, the top benefit was identity theft protection, cited by 21% of respondents. That was followed by 20% who wanted paid family leave, and 18% who named fitness and healthy lifestyle incentives

For employers hoping to attract or retain valued employees, perks can make all the difference in terms of whether an employee stays in a job or sets out for greener pastures. One survey found that some employees even value work perks over salaries.

Self-improvement resources also valued

Employees also want to make improvements in their personal and professional lives, and they are looking to their employers for help in that endeavor. In a year in which the COVID-19 pandemic put personal health top of mind for many, 19% said they valued fitness or healthy lifestyle incentives as a perk.

In addition …

  • 12% found a gym membership or onsite fitness center valuable
  • 10% cited onsite healthy food options as a desirable job perk
  • 8% wanted personalized health coaching to be available as a benefit

Workers were also interested in receiving help with their finances and career advancement. Specifically ...

  • 18% found financial planning resources valuable
  • 17% cited professional development as a desirable job perk

Methodology: Unum surveyed 1,500 full-time workers in October 2020. The generations were classified as follows: Generation Z were those aged 18-23; millennials were those aged 24-39; Generation X were those aged 40-55, and baby boomers were those aged 56-74.

Tamara E. Holmes

Tamara E. Holmes is a Washington, DC-based writer who covers personal finance, entrepreneurship and careers.