What benefits employees want…and what they get

(Story by Dan Cook originally appeared in BenefitsPro)

That old and oft-chronicled disconnect between the benefits offered to employees and the benefits they’d actually like to have could be undercutting engagement at work.

Two workplace solutions firms—Quantum Workplace and Limeade—teamed up to find out what the latest items employees would like to see included in their benefits packages. The research also looked at the relationship between the engagement levels of employees and contents of the benefits package.

“Employee engagement is higher when workforces are satisfied with the health and well-being benefits their employer provides,” the researchers reported.

That’s the good news. The bad news: “The study also highlights a wide-ranging discrepancy between the benefits that employees want and the benefits they actually receive.”

Overall, participants did not express a high opinion of their benefits. 

The survey gathered input from almost 2,000 participants in Quantum’s Best Places to Work program. The specific topic was whether they had access to a range of “health and well-being benefits,” defined “as the total reward package provided by an employer – from health insurance and paid time off, to stress-relief breaks and financial planning services.”

With respect to the relationship between engagement and benefits, the study found that three-fourths of engaged employees said they were satisfied with the health and well-being benefits. Less than half of “hostile” (totally disengaged) employees were satisfied with their benefits. The study reported that clarity in benefits communication can be a game-changer when it comes to engagement.

The research compared the desired benefits to what was actually offered, and these results emerged:

  • Stress management: Only 28 percent of employers provide stress-relief breaks, such as meditation, massages, or required breaks, yet more than 71 percent of employees desire it.
  • Nutrition: More than 73 percent of employees want healthy cafeteria or vending options at work, but fewer than half of employers provide it.
  • Financial wellness: Employees 25 years old and younger are nearly twice as likely to prefer financial planning services, compared to employees 56 years old and older.
  • Work-life balance: Nearly three-fourths of employees want flexible work hours, and those who do are nearly 20 percent more engaged. However, fewer than half of employers provide flexible work hours.


“Twelve years of conducting workplace research has shown that employee perceptions of benefits is the single lowest scoring survey category across virtually all companies,” said Greg Harris, president and CEO of Quantum Workplace. “But the needle can be moved. When employers use employee feedback to help drive the decisions they make, including the health and well-being benefits they provide, they can improve employee health, engagement, and performance.”