Compensation vs. Benefits: Which is More Important?

BenefitsAs globalization continues to rise, companies are having to re-evaluate their compensation systems in order to attract and retain the best talent. There is a large difference however, between compensation and total compensation.  While compensation usually refers to an employee’s base salary, total compensation includes both the base salary and any extra benefits.  Employees today are not willing to work for financial compensation alone.  Benefits such as a 401k package, healthcare, vacation and sick days are some of the most sought after benefits from employees.

Fortune 500 companies, such as Google, are known for providing some of the best benefits for their employees.  A unique working environment that transports team members by bicycles and electric cars to staff meetings, and allowing employees to bring their pets to work, are just a few of the perks.  Other companies such as Geico and Sherwin-Williams even provide adoption assistance in addition to extended paid maternal and paternal leave. So the question then is, which is more important when seeking a new job? Compensation or Benefits?

In one article written by Forbes magazine, a survey revealed that training and development opportunities are more valuable to millennials, than any other benefit.  Flexible hours and cash bonuses ranked close behind.  When the US economy hit a downward slope a few years ago, wages were cut or became stagnant.  Now as the economy begins to improve, instead of increasing wages, employers are opting for increasing fringe benefits – allowing them to save money and improve recruitment at the same time.  While compensation is important, it is not the deciding factor when choosing which company to work for. Younger generations are now more concerned with a healthy work-life balance. While salary can often be more difficult to negotiate, employers are more willing to add in a few extra benefits. So how does this apply to healthcare?

Over half of the nursing workforce retiring before 2020 is just one of the examples of issues facing the healthcare profession. With the large shortage in staff, healthcare professionals have a high turnover rate that allows for more leverage when deciding on compensation packages.  One creative way that Stanford is retaining Emergency Department physicians, and preventing them from burn-out, is through a new program where the hospital sends a cleaning service and groceries to the physician’s home. Many physicians work long hours and any time outside of work becomes just as valuable as time in the office. By aiding physicians in completing daily tasks at home, Stanford is literally giving them time back to spend with family and rest.

As the delivery of healthcare continues to evolve and as the workforce continues to become more competitive, human resource management must adapt compensation practices to maintain recruitment strategies.  Not only are professionals becoming more concerned with working environments and benefits packages, but patients and customers are more likely to give business to the organizations that have positive reputations on how they treat their employees. With every new generation, values change. Understanding the values of the incoming workforce, such as Millennials, will aid in adapting policies and maintaining a positive work culture within the organization.


4 thoughts on “Compensation vs. Benefits: Which is More Important?

  1. Don’t forget that offering health insurance as a fringe benefit during WWII has now become how Americans get their health coverage. I wonder what fringe that may be on the cusp now will become expected decades in the future?


    1. That’s an interesting thought! I am quite certain that wellness programs would fall into that category. I also believe that benefits can vary by geographic location. In DC, it’s actually mandated for employers to cover commute expenses of they have over 20 employees. A company in Statesboro however, may offer a free hunting club membership.


  2. Reading this blog and then the comment from Dr. Kimsey had me curious about what the hot benefit options are now. I found an article from Medical Daily online which stated that health-related benefits are more of what employees are looking for and asking for today, and is expected to carry on into the near future.

    Health club memberships seem to be the hot thing going right now, but the article also listed 6 other perks that some employees enjoy now that might catch on quickly including things like concierge service, offering upwards of $10,000 to customize their own work stations, and unlimited vacation days or a 4 day work week (Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri) to give more time back.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Becca – I enjoyed reading your post. I think it’s very interesting how employee benefits are changing as the values of the incoming workforce is changing. It’s important for employers to take note of what todays generation of workers find important and valuable in order to attract and retain the best employees. I read this interesting article about how the incoming workers are changing the benefits plans being offered that you might enjoy.

    Liked by 1 person

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