Do Employee Benefits Trump Higher Salaries for Millennials?

Flexible hours, free lunches, and casual dress – do those perks really mean more to millennials than a higher salary?

do perks really mean more to millennials than a higher salary

With millennials now making up the majority of Canada’s workforce, employers need to understand how to hire, retain, and engage them. Offering perks or employee benefits plans can help businesses appeal to this generation; in fact, a recent Glassdoor survey found that 89% of 18- to 34-year-olds would prefer more perks to a pay raise.

The survey gathered data from employees aged 18 to 64, revealing which perks are most highly desired across all generations.

Top 5 Benefits Valued More Than Pay Raises

  1. Healthcare insurance (e.g., medical, dental): 40%
  2. Vacation/Paid time off: 37%
  3. Performance bonus: 35%
  4. Paid sick days: 32%
  5. Retirement plan and/or pension: 31%

As you can see, healthcare coverage is the number one benefit that employees value more than a pay increase. This makes a benefits plan an important part of any company’s compensation philosophy and an effective tool for meeting goals such as attracting millennials or retaining key employees.

According to the Glassdoor survey, nearly 4 in 5 (79%) of employees would prefer new or additional benefits to a pay increase. Millennial employees aged 18-34 were more likely to prefer benefits or perks (89%) when compared to those aged 45-54 (70%) and 55-64 (66%).

Money Still Matters

In a recent Canadian Business article, Senior Millennial Correspondent (apparently that’s a thing) Anna Fitzpatrick expresses her skepticism of the survey results.

“Honestly, the idea of picking between better perks or a better salary is so luxurious for me,” Fitzpatrick says.

She believes the survey results could be skewed and is backed up by Laura Friese, a consultant and a founder of youth job site TalentEgg. Laura says millennials rely more on freelance and contract work than previous generation, so the “money doesn’t matter” attitude may come from anxiety about finding steady work.

“The truth is, millennials like most people, would like to be paid a living wage and some benefits like healthcare coverage are useful to that,” Fitzpatrick says.

Healthcare benefits in particular, such as drug coverage, dental, or healthcare spending accounts are often valued more than a higher salary.

Providing generous employee benefits is an indispensable approach for employers to attract the new generation of millennial employees and make their overall compensation package more attractive.


Contact us today to discuss how we can build a custom benefits plan that suits your organization’s specific needs – we can help you build a better benefits plan than you can get anywhere else.

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