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What Employee Benefits Matter Most to Job Seekers?

What Employee Benefits Matter Most to Job Seekers?

By: Monster Insights

It’s an all-too familiar recruiting scenario: You’ve found a qualified candidate that you hope to hire. Everything seems to be a go — until they decide to go with another position.

They turned down your offer — why? The other job offered benefits that were more attractive. 

Understanding the motivational drivers for candidate job offers is key to a successful hiring process.

The issue prompted the Monster Insights team, which has provided human capital information, research and data tools to help Monster customers with strategic workforce decisions for over 10 years, to research the topic further.

The Monster Insights study, conducted in early 2012, included a cross-section of 1,679 participants by gender, employment, career level and household income.

While the survey findings are not meant to be a final recommendation for HR managers and recruiters, they can help shed some much-needed light on the employee benefits that matter most to today’s job seekers.

Average Importance of Benefits
Monster asked survey participants what is valued if they considered a prospective job compensation and benefits. Benefits included:

  • Healthcare plan
  • Vacation Time
  • Pay Raise
  • Employee Benefit
  • Performance Benefit
  • Retirement Plan

Monster then varied the benefit or benefit level to see how survey participants reacted to accepting the new job.

Survey results found that a healthcare plan was the most valued class of benefits, accounting for almost one-third of the value prospective employees would place on a benefits package. Such a strong finding is consistent with past Monster employee benefit surveys which also showed how valuable healthcare is to job seekers and employees.

Survey results ranked average importance by benefit as follows:

  • Healthcare plan  = 32%
  • Vacation Time = 25%
  • Pay Raise = 15%
  • Employee Benefit = 10%
  • Performance Bonus = 9%
  • Retirement Plan = 8%

Average Importance of Benefits by Income
Income can have a major impact on how job seekers and employees value different compensation benefits.

In general, survey findings found that the lower the income, the more important healthcare is to the job seeker.

For example, those with income less than $90K per year indicated that healthcare could be up to 35% of the value of their compensation, while vacation time placed a distant second to healthcare benefits.

However, those earning over $90K per year indicated vacation time as their most important benefit, narrowly outdistancing the importance they place on healthcare.

Such findings suggest that varying the degree of compensation benefits by the current income level of a job seeker, particularly healthcare and vacation time, can greatly influence how a job candidate will perceive an offer.

Average Importance of Benefits by Gender
Both male and female survey participants placed healthcare as a high priority in compensation with vacation time as second.

However, women appeared to place a bit more importance on vacation, while men valued a performance bonus slightly more than women.

The study showed that varying compensation benefits and levels would generally have little to no impact between the sexes.

Average Importance of Benefits: Unemployed vs. Employed
Monster survey findings again show how important healthcare is and how it can be leveraged in recruiting.

Unemployed versus employed job candidates in the survey indicated a significant difference in how they value healthcare benefits.

While employed job candidates value healthcare, unemployed job candidates placed even greater value on this benefit.

In doing so, the unemployed candidate is more willing to accept  a lower pay increase in favor of the peace-of-mind that healthcare benefits can provide.

In those having healthcare benefits, the study found that an employed job candidate will place greater value and consideration in a pay raise. 

All other benefits tested to have similar value between employed and unemployed job candidates.

Average Importance of Benefits by Career Level
Career level (entry, mid-career, management and executive) can play a strong role in how job candidates perceive compensation benefits. While these job levels place the same rank level of importance on each benefit class, there is relative distinction among a benefit class.

Similar to the surveyed unemployed job candidates, an entry-level job seeker places the greatest value on healthcare benefits. They are also more willing to trade this benefit for a retirement plan or performance bonus, which they rate lower in importance.

Those mid-career survey participants placed greater importance on vacation time compared to entry-level, managers or executives. However, managers and executives see greater value in performance bonuses over their entry-level or mid-career candidates.

Average Importance of Benefits: Those with Children vs. Those Without Children
A job candidate with children has a similar value system to job candidates without children. However, the Monster survey discovered some differences in benefit levels that could be useful in the recruitment process.

Those job candidates that were childless appear to value a pay raise as a slightly higher value than those with children.

And those without children also placed greater importance on such employee benefits as life insurance and disability insurance.

Not surprisingly, job candidates that have children placed a much higher degree of importance on paid child care over those candidates without children.

Knowing the family structure of a job candidate can enable the recruiter to fine-tune a compensation plan, optimizing it so that it has the most appeal to a particular job candidate.

Copyright 2012 by Monster, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of the survey findings may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior written permission of Monster, Inc.