Office sweet office: Most workers don’t want 4-day work week, surprising survey reveals

NEW YORK — Employees will always take more money if you offer it. But pay alone isn’t necessarily all it takes to attract and keep good employees. In a survey of 1,000 employed workers and 1,000 employers, researches report that 40 percent of employers say workers leave their job to find a role that offers better employee benefits. 

The survey, commissioned by Forbes Advisor, also finds that 62 percent of businesses have changed their benefit offerings in the past year. If you’re considering doing the same, keep in mind these new statistics about the best employee benefits.

Most Important Benefits for Workers

Employers were mostly in line with naming the top three benefits employees want, but their  understanding of preferred workplace benefits drops off after that. 

Notably, employers undervalue the need for mandatory paid time off and overvalue employee discounts. While 30 percent of employers believe the latter is important, it doesn’t seem to be a priority for employees.

  1. Employer-covered healthcare: 67 percent of employees and 68 percent of employers believe this to be the most important benefit. Back pain is a frequent ailment of office workers. Learn how to avoid back pain in the office.
  2. Life insurance: 45 percent of employees and 43 percent of employers named this a top benefit.
  3. Pension and retirement plans: 34 percent of both employees and employers agree that planning for the future is vital.
  4. Mandatory paid time off: Employees value mandatory paid time off more highly than employers are aware: 31 percent of employees named this a top benefit, but it didn’t reach the top five benefits among employers.
  5. Mental health assistance: 33 percent of employers named this a top benefit, while only 23 percent of employees listed it.

Most Important Culture Benefits for Workers and Employers

Employees and employers are aligned on the most important elements of company culture.

  1. Work-life balance: This is the most valued element of company culture by a wide margin for both employees (51%) and employers (47%).
  2. Building trust: Trust is definitely a two-way street; 20 percent of employees said it’s important to be trusted by their peers and superiors, and 27 percent of employers agreed building trust with employees is important.
  3. Team camaraderie: Only 11 percent of employees and 8 percent of employers named camaraderie an important cultural benefit. Employers might need to explore avenues other than after-hours team-building to meet the goals of building trust and improving work-life balance for employees.

Benefits Employees Are Quitting Over

Contrary to what you might believe, salary isn’t the most obvious deal-breaker. It’s an important element, but pay is rivaled by other forms of compensation in driving employees to move on to new opportunities.

Small business owners report thinking employees quit because they’re looking for:

  1. Higher pay: 32 percent of employers think this is a top reason to quit.
  2. Better benefits: 26 percent of employers see this as a reason employees quit, likely a catalyst for the majority of companies that have adjusted their benefits packages recently.
  3. Advancement opportunities: 22 percent of employers imagine employees leave their current job because they could find more upward mobility elsewhere.
  4. Flexible work-from-home options: 20 percent of employers acknowledge that employees quit over flexible working arrangements, though most employers still didn’t name these benefits among the most important.

The Majority of Workers Don’t Care About a Four-Day Workweek

Interest in a four-day workweek went up with age, but the majority of workers did not say they preferred it.

By age, those who wanted a four-day workweek include:

  • 18–25 (12%)
  • 26–41 (19%)
  • 42–57 (24%)
  • 58–76 (32%)

Interest in a four-day workweek was relatively low across the board, but workers 26 and older showed significantly more interest than younger workers, in some cases twice as much as those 18 to 25. This might reflect a need for workers in later life stages to make room for caretaking work, or possibly their greater confidence in their ability to do a job more efficiently. The youngest workers might also be more comfortable with a five-day workweek if work provides the bulk of their opportunities for socializing and personal development. 

Survey methodology:

To understand the benefit offerings that employers are providing and the employees want, Forbes Advisor commissioned a survey of 1,000 employed Americans and 1,000 business owners conducted by market research company OnePoll, in accordance with the Market Research Society’s code of conduct. The margin of error is +/- 3.1 points with 95 percent confidence. The OnePoll research team is a member of the MRS and has corporate membership with the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR).

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About the Author

Sophia Naughton

Meet StudyFinds’ Associate Editor, Sophia Naughton. Sophia graduated Magna Cum Laude from Towson University with a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication directly focused in journalism and advertising. She is also a freelance writer for Baltimore Magazine. Outside of writing, her best buddy is her spotted Pit Bull, Terrance.

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  1. How was the four day work week presented. Was it you work four days and get the same take home pay over 4 days with a max of 8 hours? I would be very interested in the reasons behind not supporting it. Is it because people think it would never be real because they work 60 hours a week or more now? Or is it because of the fetish in this country to make your job your whole identity and/ or if you don’t live at work you are lazy?

  2. It’s very interesting and informative content. Thanks for sharing it! Though, when we talk about employee benefits, the “Employee Retention Credit” is what we should not forget about. Successfully meeting ERC credit qualifications can lead to substantial tax refunds, providing crucial financial support to eligible individuals and families.

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