Only workers from one country rate time off over a salary increase, according to a massive international survey looking at employee benefits.
Just about everyone in a poll of more than 10,000 workers opted to take more money rather than time off – except Canadian workers who would rather spend time away from work.
Most employees went for benefits like extra pay that gave immediate results rather than long-term benefits like pension plans.
The split is less clear for voluntary or flexible benefits which employees foot the bill for out of their remuneration package, even though participating in a workplace program could offer the services at a much reduced cost than going direct to a provider.
In many highly developed countries, healthcare or other insurances ranked top, but in emerging markets with less sophisticated private health facilities, retirement savings were the leading choice.
Employees want instant gratification benefits
Out-of-country healthcare was popular with many expats and singles living in countries with restricted public medical care.
The study was carried out by leading human resources company Mercer.
Overall, the results showed more companies are leaving benefit choices to their employees, said Dave Rahill, president of the firms health and benefits business.
“Valuing instant gratification from more spending power or time off especially in the current stressful economic environment is understandable,” he said.
“But other benefits can give more value even though they work over the longer term. Health benefits and income replacement strategies for retirement or savings really do offer more in the long run.
“The challenge is for companies to explain to their workers the value of these benefits so they can make informed choices from a range of options.”
Benefit choices change with age
The survey also asked employees about their retirement saving arrangements and found that, on average, outside Asia, 75% of employees are putting away less than 10% of their income to fund their later years.
The survey also revealed that people’s benefit choices change with age – with younger workers favouring more money or time off, while older workers opt for health and medical benefits.
“Companies have to work on promoting the right perception of a benefit’s value to their staff,” said Rahill. “This will make sure they make the right investment in employee benefits.
“It’s also worth noting how much worry people have about funding their retirement. Employers could do a lot to make staff aware of retirement readiness to relieve anxiety and improve morale. This would also help enhance loyalty and motivation in the workplace.”