Do employees want better pay and less benefits or vice versa?

For some, money is more important because it gives them the power to make their own choices. For others, the benefits that come with their pay are more important


The age when employees used to settle for whatever their employers offered is long past now. Today’s employees are actively seeking better pay and benefits from their employers. They are not ones to be satisfied with anything less than what they deserve. Is there a visible divide between employees’ preferences in terms of benefits and pay?

For some, money is more important because it gives them the power to make their own choices. For others, the benefits that come with their pay are more important. This is because, these benefits provide additional support in their time of need, and helps them get things that they can’t otherwise afford.

What exactly do employees prefer more? HRKatha asks some esteemed HR professionals.

Pankaj Lochan, CHRO, Jindal Steel and Power

Primarily, three things have contributed to employees’ preference for better pay. First, the average mean salary has gone up. That means, people are getting paid better than before.

Second, more people are aware about better wages, and are attracted to jobs that offer attractive packages. Third, employees have also begun giving more importance to comfort, and with money they have a better chance to acquire whatever they may need. General wisdom also dictates that if employees are already getting good pay, they are likely to buy the necessary things themselves, rather than rely on a third party to offer it to them.

Especially after the pandemic, employees have started to give more weight to better salaries because they desire financial stability over any additional benefits.
They have become focused on providing for their families themselves, rather than wait for someone else to swoop in and save them in times of emergency.

Anil Gaur CHRO, Akums Pharmaceuticals

We need to look at the different age groups and their priorities in terms of pay and benefits. The younger generation is mostly concerned with living in the present and is attracted to bigger wages. They want the money in their hand and care little about additional benefits such as healthcare or maternity leave.
However, the older generation which grew up in times when its members had more responsibilities on their shoulders, looks for better benefits with a focus on the future.

They are likely to seek better packages from their employees that will help them create a suitable retirement plan.

These days, companies have started providing compensation according to what their employees prefer. While this is prominent in IT companies, even Akums Pharmaceuticals has launched a flexible benefit plan allowing employees to choose the kind of benefit they want.

Maneesha Jha Thakur, HR Leader

Most employees prefer higher pay and less benefits.

Employees value cash in hand so that they can decide how they want to spend their salary. They look at benefits as an addition to this salary, and not as a substitute for money.

Benefits such as group medical insurance, PF, gratuity and accident insurance, which come in handy at different stages of life and in case of unforeseen circumstances, are valued at that time. For instance, in sickness, employees appreciate generous mediclaim coverage.

However, as short sighted as they are, this is not a key aspect that employees look at when they consider their compensation.

Maybe organisations need to emphasise benefits more to drive home the point.

Benefits such as facilities pertaining to pregnancy care, childcare and generous maternity leave are likely to be preferred over higher pay, especially by women.
Also, ESOPs which have potential to generate serious wealth are highly valued benefits.

In recent times, facilities such as work from home, flexible work schedule, choice of location are being valued by employees more than money.

There is yet another category of benefits that employees value highly — benefits that help in career advancement, for instance, access to MBA courses from premier institutes that the organisations tie up with, top-notch training and certification opportunities, option to take a sabbatical and so on.

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