New LinkedIn Research Reveals Employees Don't Care About Cool Office Perks—Here’s What Really Matters

July 26, 2018

As the competition for talent has heated up over the last few years, companies have increasingly turned to outrageous perks—from helicopter rides at Dropcam to three pints of ice cream every day at Ben & Jerry’s—to attract talent and retain employees.

But, according to our recent survey of over 3,000 U.S. professionals, while ping-pong, yoga, and free food are nice, they really aren’t that important. According to our respondents, what they care most about are core benefits—things like health coverage and paid time off.

Now this isn’t exactly surprising, but it is encouraging for companies that can’t afford the flashy perks offered by some companies.

To understand exactly what companies should focus on to attract and retain talent, we dug into the survey results. Here are the key takeaways and what it means for you:

44% of professionals said benefits like health coverage and PTO will likely keep them at their current company for 5+ years

We asked survey respondents what factors were likely to keep them at their company for more than five years. As mentioned, 44% percent pointed to strong workplace benefits, like health coverage, PTO, and parental leave.

By comparison, only 19% said they would stay for in-office perks such as food, gyms, and game rooms. (“Benefits” are nonwage compensation such as PTO, insurance, and retirement funding; “perks” are nice-to-have additions to salary and benefits.)

When asked what benefit they would most like to see in their workplace, 49% said increased health and wellness benefits. And when asked what additional perk they would like to have at work, 47% said more time off around holidays. Only 12% said game rooms.

These new findings strike a chord with earlier research. Last year, the Harvard Business Review reported on a survey done by Fractl that found employees value health insurance most highly, but also prize time-related benefits such as flexible hours, more paid vacation time, and work-from-home options. And earlier research by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation found that 63% of millennials said benefits were crucial in their decision to stay with an employer.

It all suggests now is the time to double down on benefits.

More than half of professionals are most proud of the work-life balance and flexibility at their company

When we asked professionals why they were proud of their company, their most frequent answer (51%) was, “There is good work-life balance and flexibility.” This is good news for everyone. Recent research by the U.K.’s Advisory, Conciliation, and Arbitration Service found that flexible work arrangements can improve the effectiveness of individuals and teams.

Balance and flexibility aren’t the only sources of employee pride. The two other most-cited sources were companies that foster a culture where employees can be themselves (47%) and the chance to engage in work that has a positive impact on society (46%), a critical but often overlooked driver in both hiring and retention.

And nearly everyone (87%) said it was important to them to be proud of their company in order for them to want to stay.

70% of professionals won’t work at a company that has a bad culture

One of the biggest takeaways of our research: In the workplace, culture is king. (And queen.) Seventy percent of professionals in the U.S. told us they would not work at a leading company if it had a bad workplace culture. This was even more than the 65% who said they wouldn’t put up with lower pay or the 26% who said they wouldn’t stick around with a lesser job title.

What makes for good workplace culture? The biggest thing is people—which underlines just how critical recruiters are. The top factor most likely to keep professionals with their current company for 5+ years is having coworkers who they enjoy working with and can be themselves around. A strong sense of belonging in the workplace can be bolstered by regular recognition, gratitude, and candor as well as frequent encouragement for employees to bring their whole selves to work.

Final thoughts

This new research indicates that there has never been a better time to invest in your employees. It also suggests that to foster retention companies need to continue building strong workplace cultures that allow employees to be themselves and to engage in meaningful work.

Your company values are the hallmarks of your workplace and will shape your ability to attract and retain great employees. So let me leave you with a parting number from our survey: 71% of professionals said they would be willing to take a pay cut to work for a company that shares their values and has a mission they believe in.

Bottom line: Yogurt pretzels, double-shot macchiatos, and pinball are fine and dandy, but to attract, retain, and foster top-flight professionals, you want to invest in your company’s culture—its mission, values, work-life balance, and benefits.

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