More time off tops benefit wish list for US employees

Additional paid time off is the most sought-after non-monetary perk among US employees. However, many CFOs think that health and wellness benefits are at the top of employees’ wish lists, according to a survey by recruitment agency Robert Half.

The discrepancy suggests that organisations may be offering the wrong mix of benefits and are therefore missing an opportunity to boost engagement and retention. 

Asked which perks they most value, 31% of employees surveyed said extra vacation days. Options to work remotely were most desired by 23%, and a more flexible schedule was chosen by 21%. Health and wellness was a priority for 16%; on-site perks, such as a free lunch or parking, was a priority for 8%. 

Meanwhile, 39% of CFOs perceive health and wellness benefits, such as gym memberships, to be at the top of the employee wish list, followed by additional vacation days (25%), options to work remotely (14%), a more flexible schedule (11%), and on-site perks (8%).

Given the differences in perception, giving staff a say when putting a benefits plan together could help organisations ensure the rewards offered are motivating and effective for those individuals.

Although many companies tend to undersell such benefits in the recruitment process, promoting them could help smaller organisations stand out to candidates in a competitive hiring environment, so it is important to promote the firm’s offerings clearly, said Paul McDonald, senior executive director at Robert Half.

Perhaps due to the increasingly competitive market for candidates, 40% of the 2,200 US CFOs interviewed for the survey are more willing to negotiate non-monetary perks compared with a year ago. Just 6% said they were less willing.

Employees appear to have noticed this shift, with 43% considering their company to be open to discussions about benefits, compared with 5% saying such negotiations are less available.

The research gathered the opinions of 2,200 CFOs and 1,000 office-based employees in the US.

Samantha White ( is a CGMA Magazine senior editor.