Americans Favor Workplace Benefits Over Extra Salary

A 401(k) match and health insurance are the benefits they value the most

Eighty percent of Americans would favor a job that offered high-quality workplace benefits over one that paid 30% more salary but no benefits, the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) learned in a survey of 2,026 adults. Only 20% would prefer the job with the higher salary but no benefits.

Workers believe that their benefits represent 40% of their total compensation. However, according to statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, they average 31.7% of a total compensation package.

AICPA also learned that 29% of Americans are considering switching jobs in the next year. This means that employers need to ensure that they offer benefits, AICPA says.

“A robust benefits package is often a large chunk of total compensation, but it’s the employees’ job to make sure they’re taking advantage of it to improve their financial positions and quality of life,” says Greg Anton, chairman of AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission. “Beyond the dollar value of having good benefits, employees gain peace of mind knowing they can take vacation without losing a week’s pay, or if they need to see a doctor, they won’t be responsible for the entire cost.”

Eighty-eight percent said they are confident they understood the benefits offered when they accepted their current job. Eighty-six percent are confident they have kept up-to-date with changes to those benefits, and 86% are confident they know where to get information about these benefits. However, only 28% are very confident they are using these benefits to their fullest potential.

“Despite overestimating the value of their benefits as part of their total compensation, it is concerning that Americans are not taking full advantage of them,” Anton adds. “Imagine how employees would react if they were not 100% confident they could get to all the money in their paycheck. Leaving benefits underutilized should be treated the same way.”

Asked which workplace benefits would help them reach their goals, a 401(k) match and health insurance tie at 56% each. That is followed by paid time off (33%), a pension (31%), flexible work hours (21%) and working remotely (15%).

The Harris Poll conducted the online survey for AICPA in April.