How 50+ Benefits Correlate with Employee Satisfaction

Dr. Andrew Chamberlain and Gloria Tian

June 10, 2016

Recently, Glassdoor Economic Research explored the best industries for benefits and which benefits drive employee satisfaction. In both studies, we restricted the benefits we examined to those we had the most data for in order to rigorously study them: health insurance, vacation/paid time off, 401(k) plans, maternity/paternity leave, employee discounts and free food. However, Glassdoor’s Benefits Reviews survey collects data on many more types of benefits. Employees can rate and review more than 50 distinct employer-provided benefits, while employers can verify the benefits they offer, providing a well-rounded picture what’s offered at hundreds of thousands of companies. The survey covers a wide variety of workplace benefits and perks, including pet-friendly workplaces, employee adoption assistance, travel concierge services, company cars, mobile phone discounts and more. To dig deeper, we wanted to understand which of these 50+ perks and benefits matter most to employees. One simple way to do so is to show the statistical correlation between individual benefits ratings (on a scale of 1 to 5) and how employees rate their overall satisfaction with benefits packages (again, on a 1 to 5 scale). The table below shows the full list of correlations between 54 benefits tracked by Glassdoor and overall employee satisfaction with benefits packages. The correlations range between zero and one. A correlation near one means the benefit is a good predictor of employee satisfaction with overall benefits packages, while a correlation near zero means the benefit has little impact on employee satisfaction. In other words, which benefits are more important to employees and which are less important? GD_54_BenefitsRanking Overall, the above results echo the findings of our earlier study: The core benefits that matter most to workers are health insurance, vacation and paid time off, and retirement plans. These core benefits are most highly correlated with employee satisfaction with benefits packages. At the bottom of the list, we see less common benefits like fertility assistance, employer-provided child care, and travel concierge services. These benefits have almost no correlation at all with employee satisfaction. While they may be quite valuable to some employees, the data suggest most workers place a low value on these benefits. Interestingly, many headline-catching benefits such as pet-friendly workplaces, reduced and flexible hours, and gym memberships rank near the bottom of this list in terms of correlation with employee satisfaction. Even the much-discussed benefit of free lunch and snacks ranked 16th out of 54 benefits, well behind more prosaic and traditional benefits like retirement plans. Although the above correlations are interesting, some caution is warranted in interpreting these findings. These are just simple correlations between benefit ratings, and don’t statistically control for factors like company size or industry as in our previous, more rigorous analysis of Glassdoor benefits ratings. Despite these limitations, the lesson of the above table is clear. While less common benefits tend to dominate media coverage, employers should not neglect core benefits such as health insurance and paid time off. The data clearly show these benefits—while less exciting than many of today’s flashy workplace perks—are still the main drivers of employee satisfaction. For employers looking to win top talent, providing a well-rounded total compensation package that includes core benefits, fair pay and desirable perks will help them compete in a challenging hiring landscape.  

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