Report: Employees Want Better Benefits, But They Don’t Maximize Them

A new report from the American Institute of CPAs finds that benefits are a major driving factor behind many employees’ decision to take a new job, but often they don’t maximize the benefits made available to them.

When it comes to a good gig, money isn’t everything. Especially when there are benefits involved, too.

A recent survey from the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) lays out how many Americans see improved benefits (rather than an increase in salary) as a driving factor for switching to a new position. Which makes sense when you break it down, because benefits represent nearly a third of salary (31.7 percent), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In the AICPA 2018 Employee Benefit Report, conducted for the association by The Harris Poll, respondents were asked to decide between two job offers: one with a full benefits package, including insurance, a 401(k) plan, and two weeks of paid vacation; and the other with 30 percent higher salary but no additional perks. Respondents, overwhelmingly, by a rate of 4 to 1, went for the job with benefits.

But even with this interest in getting better benefits, just 28 percent of respondents are very confident that they’re using their benefits to their fullest potential, with 53 percent saying they feel somewhat confident.

Greg Anton, the chairman of AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission, says that this data point is particularly concerning.

“Imagine how employees would react if they were not 100 percent confident they could get to all the money in their paycheck,” he explained in a news release, adding that it’s important that Americans understand what’s being made available to them. “Leaving benefits underutilized should be treated the same way.”

One other notable aspect of the study includes a strong desire among younger employees for student loan forgiveness as a part of their benefits package. Among young adults, it was the third most desired benefit, after health insurance and paid time off, and the report suggested that many employees would be willing to accept smaller non-salary compensation in other areas, such as 401(k) retirement fund match and life insurance, in favor of a larger student loan debt repayment benefit.

Tracie L. Miller-Nobles, a teacher and fellow member of AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission, emphasizes, however, that student loan debt shouldn’t be the only consideration here.

“When evaluating benefit packages on the job market, millennials should consider the whole picture—not just in terms of paying down their student loan debt. Benefit packages should be a mix of different options and millennials should consider the long-term impact,” Miller-Nobles stated in the report [PDF].

Other topics covered by the report include the financial factors behind launching your own business and the ways that benefit preferences shift as people get older.

(AndreyPopov/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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