Employees say they'd prefer benefits to a pay bump
- A job with benefits is preferable to the same job with more pay but no benefits, according to 80% of the respondents in a new online survey by the American Institute of CPA (AICPA). The accounting organization said that Americans are overestimating their benefits' value by thinking that their benefits make up on average 40% of their total compensation while data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show benefits actually account for an average 31.7% of total compensation. The Harris Poll conducted the survey of 2,026 adults for the AICPA in April.
- In other survey results, about nine in 10 respondents said they understood all their employers' benefits when they took their current job, 86% said they've kept up to date with benefits changes, and the same percentage said they know where to get information on how to use their benefits. However, only 28% said they're very confident that they're fully using their benefits.
- "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," Greg Anton, CPA, chairman of the AICPA's National CPA Financial Literacy Commission, said in a statement. When survey respondents were asked which three benefits would help them meet their financial goals, 56% cited a 401(k) match or health insurance, 33% cited paid time off, 21% cited flexible work hours, and 15% said working remotely.
While other studies show that money is still the greatest motivator when it comes to looking for or changing jobs, the AICPA survey underscores how valuable benefits are to workers, who wouldn't trade them for a bigger paycheck without benefits. However, the fact that employees aren't using their benefits to the extent possible shows how much money they're leaving on the table.
"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," said Anton. "Imagine how employees would react if they were not 100 percent confident they could get to all the money in their paycheck."
As for employees requiring a better understanding of their benefits, employers have an obligation to better communicate their benefits. Studies show that most employees don't actually understand their benefits offerings, even though many are confident that they do. With the technology available, employers have a range of software platforms they can use to instruct and update employees on benefits 24/7, and not just during open enrollment, but also year-round.