The 5 Most Desirable Employee Benefits (and the Least Popular)

Happy employee holding heart-shaped balloons in an office.

In this post, we outline the most popular employee benefits among today’s workers. We also share some of the least desirable benefits, exploring how employee’s values and expectations have shifted.

Employee benefits aren’t just extra perks you can offer if you’re feeling generous. They play a critical role in attracting and retaining talent in today’s competitive labor market — and have a major impact on company culture and employee well-being.

As an employer, it’s essential to offer benefits that truly benefit your employees. But, unfortunately, companies often miss the mark when it comes to aligning their corporate benefits with what people really value and desire.

According to an SHRM survey, employers in the US rank healthcare, retirement savings and planning, leave, family care, and flexible work as the most important employee benefits.

But how does this compare to what employees actually want? Let’s find out. 

Employee Satisfaction

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Discover specific ways to increase employee happiness in our free booklet “The Keys to Employee Satisfaction.” Download it now!

The 5 most popular employee benefits

Here are the five most popular employee benefits, based on global search data provided by LENSA in their 2022 Workplace Demands report.

1. Remote work

According to LENSA’s analysis, remote work is the most-searched employee benefit both in the US and globally. 

This is reinforced by numerous studies. The Pew Research Center reports that 61% of US-based workers choose to work from home when given the option, while a McKinsey survey found that, when people have the chance to work flexibly, 87% of them take it.

And it seems remote work is a benefit that today’s employees feel especially passionate about, with Gartner director Jérôme Mackowiak warning that “forcing employees to go back to the on-site environment could result in employers losing up to 39% of their workforce.”

That’s a resounding thumbs up for remote working. Employers who want to retain their top talent (and keep them happy) must consider adding it to their corporate benefits package.

💡 Tip from Babbel
You can learn more about how to create an attractive employee benefits package in this guide.


2. Smart office

The second most popular benefit is the smart office. The smart office concept is about using intelligent technology and connectivity solutions to optimize the office environment. The goal is to boost productivity while improving the overall ‘office experience’ for employees.

Examples of smart office technology include things like interactive floor plans which make it easier for employees to locate necessary resources (such as available meeting rooms), access control and visitor management which automates the process of letting people in and out of the office, and workplace analytics enabling facility managers to understand, and optimize, how the office space is being used.

Experts are projecting rapid growth for the smart office market, and companies who are quick to adopt will likely benefit from increased efficiency and employee retention.

📢  Have you heard?
Other popular employee benefits are workations, jobbaticals and sabbaticals. In episode 13 of our podcast, we discover how these benefits make employees feel empowered and inspired. Listen here:


3. Four-day work week

As workers place increasing value on flexibility and work-life balance, the four-day work week is growing in popularity.

The four-day week proposes that employees can be just as productive in four days as they are in five. Within this model, employee salaries and workloads stay the same — they are just condensed into fewer days.

Several countries
have already embraced the four-day work week to varying degrees, with varying levels of success.

A six-month trial in the UK has been deemed “extremely successful”: 86% of participating companies said they were “extremely likely” or “likely” to consider keeping the four-day week beyond the trial period. A similar trial in Iceland also came out as a success, with researchers reporting a reduction in stress and burnout as well as an improvement in work-life balance.

The four-day work week is still under discussion in many countries, but it’s a benefit that employees are keen to try out. According to a Qualtrics survey, 92% of employees in the US are in favor of a shorter week — even if it means working longer hours.

💡 More about this topic
Before you consider trialing the four-day week at your own company, we recommend reading up on the pros and cons first.


4. Employee assistance programs

Employee assistance programs (or EAPs) are offered to help workers with either personal or work-related issues that might impact their job performance, physical health, and/or mental well-being.

At a time when anxiety, depression, stress, and burnout are worryingly high among the working population, it’s not surprising that EAPs are a top priority when it comes to employee benefits. And, with a reported 93% of employers in the US currently offering an EAP, it seems that companies are already on board.

However, EAPs are widely underutilized by employees. So, if you do introduce an EAP as part of your corporate benefits — or if you’re already offering one — be sure to inform your employees of how it works and how they can make the most of it.

💡 Tip from Babbel
Another way to increase employee happiness is to establish and support LGBTQIA+ Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). Learn more about how you can promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace in this post.

5. Career development

Career development is critical for employee motivation, engagement, and productivity. It’s also high on the list of popular employee benefits.

In 2021, amidst the peak of The Great Resignation, one of the top reasons employees gave for quitting their job was a lack of opportunities for progression. On the flip side, 94% of employees claim they will stay in a job longer if their employer invests in their learning and development.

An additional LinkedIn report found that, according to workers, offering career development is the number one way for employers to improve their company culture. 

Career development isn’t just a benefit for employees. It offers great return on investment for employers, helping to boost productivity, profitability, and retention. You can learn more about how to upskill your employees and equip them for success in this post.

Happy employees are talking in a meeting.

The least popular benefits that employees will happily do without

Among the least desirable employee benefits are free office coffee, medical cash plans, and performance-related bonuses. This represents a widespread shift in people’s values and expectations in relation to work.

Long gone are the days when basic office perks and monetary compensation could be enough to attract and retain top talent. Today’s employees are placing far greater value on benefits that afford them more flexibility and a better work-life balance, improved wellbeing, and the opportunity to learn and grow in their careers.

As an employer, it’s essential to offer benefits that truly align with what people want. Pay attention to what’s trending, but also be sure to ask your employees directly about what they value most.

Employee Satisfaction

Start now!
Discover specific ways to increase employee happiness in the workplace in our free booklet “The Keys to Employee Satisfaction.”

Anika Wegner

Anika Wegner

B2B Blog Editor — Exploring other cultures through language is particularly important to her. That's why she loves writing for Babbel about topics, how companies can benefit from language-learning solutions.