Employees will sacrifice a pay raise for better benefits

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As employees are looking for greater financial security, they are increasingly willing to sacrifice additional pay in exchange for more generous retirement, healthcare and paid time off benefits, according to a new Willis Towers Watson survey.

Half of employees would rather receive more substantial benefits and time off to additional pay or bonuses, the new Global Benefits Attitudes Survey found. Fifty-seven percent said their benefit package is more important to them than ever before, and 67% are willing to pay more from their paychecks each month for more comprehensive retirement benefits. More than four in 10 workers, or 42%, would sacrifice additional pay each month for a more expansive health benefit plan, a sharp increase from 27% in 2013.

“Many [employees] are struggling with financial and health related issues,” says Jennifer DeMeo, senior director of retirement at Willis Towers Watson. “They're turning to their employers and their benefit programs to help them deal with those issues and achieve a better sense of overall well-being.”

Employers have been working to expand their voluntary benefits to meet the demands of a diverse workplace. According to a 2019 Willis Towers Watson survey, 79% of companies offer voluntary benefits that address issues regarding financial, mental and emotional health.

Of those surveyed by Willis Towers Watson, there are some generational differences. Half of Generation Z employees ranked more pay as their highest priority, while only 35% had more generous benefits as a top priority. Forty-two percent of baby boomers however listed benefits as their top priority.

While employees are looking to their employer for providing important benefits, they often have a lack of resources available to them. Only 40% of employees feel their employer provides resources to support their health and wellbeing. Even fewer (32%) say they are provided resources to help manage their finances.

“Employers can help employees by offering education, communication and decision-support tools,” DeMeo says. “This approach not only leads employees to make more informed benefit decisions but also boosts their financial wellbeing. Employers have the opportunity to better communicate with employees to provide tools and engage them in their benefits.

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Compensation Willis Towers Watson Retirement benefits Healthcare benefits Financial wellness