What Benefits Do Employees Really Want?

A generous benefits package is essential for attracting top talent in today’s hiring market. As unemployment falls and the labor market tightens, employees seek more from their employers than just a paycheck. Enter benefits and perks sound similar, but they’re two distinct things.

Benefits vs. Perks

Generally speaking, an employee would expect benefits from an employer, while perks are considered bonuses and vary significantly from employer to employer. Benefits should be seen as additional forms of compensation such as health insurance, 401(k) matches, retirement plans, etc. Perks are primarily focused on things that help the employee be happier, healthier, or more productive. Employee perks include gym memberships, staff parties, telecommuting, dry cleaning, and company cars. A practical benefits plan depends on various factors, such as employee demographics, company size, and industry, but there are some everyday items that almost all employees have come to expect.

Both benefits and perks are significant to job seekers, and as the workforce changes, keeping up with the wants vs. needs of potential employees can take a lot of work for companies. So, what are employees really after in terms of benefits? And are certain perks becoming more expected?


Health insurance, paid time off (PTO), retirement savings plans, and supplementary insurance programs such as dental, vision, and mental health coverage are at the top of the list for job seekers. Employees want the reassurance that they can take care of themselves and take a break if they or their family members get sick. The U.S. still falls well below the rest of the developed world regarding PTO, but employees’ fundamental belief is that they should get to take a vacation. In addition, additional family leave (other than the required FMLA) is critical to younger employees who may be getting ready to start families. When designing a benefit program, it’s a good idea for employers to meet some, if not all, of these expectations if they hope to attract and retain the best staff.


There are certain perks that employees are starting to expect. Offering flexible work schedules and work-from-home options are standard practices in many bigger cities and are becoming more common in smaller cities and towns. As the work itself changes, the ability to do the work from anywhere grows and entices those with long commutes, parents, or people who do better work away from the office. Flexible work schedules and remote options also help to create a good work/life balance, which is very important to the modern employee.

Employees have also begun to expect their employers to offer some professional development. Employees want to continue to grow and learn in their careers, and by providing professional development, employers show their employees that they want to invest in them. It can boost both attraction and retention and produce greater efficiency.

Wellness programs such as on-site fitness centers, standing desks, fitness challenges, tobacco cessation programs, and CPR training are also trendy perks but not as expected as those above. Offering wellness programs, however, is proactive. The healthier the employee is, the less expensive their health insurance will be, the fewer sick days they’ll have to take, and the less stressed they’ll be. Those are all benefits to the employer as well as the employee.

If you need advice on creating a benefits package to fit your needs and the needs of your employees, contact The Grigg Group. Our experienced team of brokers can shop dozens of markets on your behalf, ensuring you have the best combination of coverage at the lowest cost. Let us guide you to compliance by calling (704) 333-3255 or sending us a message through our contact page.

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Offering a competitive benefits package helps attract and retain quality employees. We have all you need to make that happen. Whether you’re an existing or a start-up company, we have a plan for you. Contact us for an Employee Benefits evaluation today.