Do You Know What Your Candidates Want?

Buc-ees, a Texas-based chain, operates one of the largest convenience stores in the world: its New Braunfels, Texas, store covers 68,000 square feet and boasts 60 fuel pumps and 1,000 parking spaces. The chain’s starting wages are also big: cashiers at Buc-ees can expect to make $13 per hour, well above the state’s minimum hourly wage of $7.50.

In an era of low unemployment and relatively scarce talent, this sort of incentive doesn’t seem so surprising. After all, when it comes to what attracts candidates to job openings, the common consensus is that money talks. But although it’s true that salary is a top consideration for many people, a new survey finds that benefits–not pay– is the No. 1 consideration for a majority of job seekers.

The survey of nearly 800 people, commissioned by Randstad US, finds that 66 percent of workers agree that “a strong benefits and perks package” is the largest determining factor when considering job offers, and that 61 percent would be willing to accept a lower salary if a company offered a “great” benefits package. Forty-two percent say they’re considering leaving their current jobs because of inadequate benefits packages, and 55 percent say they’ve left jobs in the past because they found better benefits elsewhere.

When it comes to which benefits are most important, health insurance was–unsurprisingly–No. 1, prioritized by 75 percent of respondents, with retirement benefits coming in at a distant No. 2 (just 21 percent said they’re a priority). When it comes to perks that matter most, respondents chose time: 33 percent selected “early Friday releases” and 26 percent chose flexibility and remote working as perks they’d like to see more of in the workplace. Other popular perks include on-site amenities such as gyms (23 percent), unlimited vacation time (22 percent) and food (18 percent).

Demographics also come into play, of course: 41 percent of respondents aged 18 to 24 say their current employers don’t offer student-loan repayment benefits but they wish they did, while workers 50 and older named health insurance as the top benefit they wished their employer offered. Meanwhile, more women than men want better parental-leave policies (22 percent vs. 14 percent, respectively), while more men than women would like to see their employers offer life insurance (23 percent of men vs. 15 percent of women).

With all that said, pay is still a primary motivator for many, and employers are responding: A survey earlier this year by the National Federation of Independent Businesses showed that more than 30 percent of small businesses are paying higher wages, while average hourly pay in the U.S. has climbed by 3 percent–the highest increase in a decade.

Andrew R. McIlvaine
Andrew R. McIlvaine is former senior editor with Human Resource Executive®.