Do you know the benefit preferences of your workforce?

I am always delighted when clients, in the middle of an HR audit, are curious about what additional benefits they should offer to attract and retain workers for their fast-growing firms. “Should I provide more paid-time off?” they ask. “What about setting up a ping pong table by the break area?” I always respond by asking them to describe the demographic composition of their workforce.

When I worked at Medtronic, the head of human resources for the Cardiac Rhythm Management business commissioned an exit interview study of employees who had left the company during the previous six months. One of the main findings was the distinct difference in reasons between why men and women left. Medtronic then and now offers excellent benefits that all generations and men and women want, such as subsidized health care, retirement, life insurance, and wellness benefits. Nobody left the company for improvements in these areas.

The men left Medtronic, primarily, for promotions and for more pay. The women left, mostly, due to perceptions of not having a good working relationship with their manager and not perceiving the potential for mentoring and career growth. Women also left more often because of family issues. This is not to say that women weren’t concerned about earning higher pay, but it didn’t top their list.

That was 15 years ago. Today’s researchers are also finding differences between the genders when seeking a new job. The 2018 Harris Poll Survey for Glassdoor[i] found differences in the preferences between men and women job seekers. Here is what they found:

  • Working from home. 49% of women indicate that the option to work from home would make them more likely to apply for a job. Only 35% of men would be enticed by a company that offered the flexibility to work from home.
  • Searching on job sites for research on employers. The survey found that 63% of women are more likely than men (45%) to say they would look at job search sites when researching a potential employer.  However, the report adds an additional perspective. On Glassdoor’s platform, 51% of its monthly 57 million users are women, and 49% are men. Contrary to the survey findings, men and women search Glassdoor in equal percentages.
  • Assessing long-term potential as an employer. 48% of female workers/job seekers report company transparency on pay and benefits as necessary information for assessing long-term potential at a company, compared to only 40% for men.   Similarly, 44 percent of women report that a company’s explanation on how they can grow their careers after joining would make them think the company offered long-term potential, compared to only 34 percent of men who report the same.

The overall findings by the Harris Poll Survey for Glassdoor are not alone. A survey conducted in 2017 by Fractl, a content marketing agency and growth marketing services company, shows similar findings. Fractl’s survey results were published in the Harvard Business Review.[ii]

The Fractl survey published in the Harvard Business Review also noticed gender differences with regards to benefits.

  • Most notably, women were more likely to prefer health care benefits and family benefits such as paid parental leave and free day care services.
  • Women also preferred more flexible hours, work from home options, and unlimited vacation.
  • Parental leave and free daycare are of high value to female employees.
  • Men were more likely than women to value team-bonding events, retreats, and free food.
  • Both genders value fitness-related perks, albeit different types. Women are more likely to prefer free fitness and yoga classes, while men are more likely to prefer an on-site gym and free gym memberships.

Many companies are correctly reviewing their pay and benefits practices to attract and retain workers during these times of full employment. Be sure to examine the demographics of your workforce. While both genders and all ages want health care, retirement, and wellness benefits, from there the clue to which wellness benefits and what to offer next will depend on the demographic composition of your workforce.

Victor Assad is the CEO of Victor Assad Strategic Human Resources Consulting and is a Managing Partner of InnovationOne. He consults and provides “hands-on” support for innovation, global talent strategies, using digital technology to improve recruiting and retention, developing agile leaders and teams, and other strategic initiatives. Questions? Contact Victor at or call him at 707-331-6740. Visit for more insights and his valuable free reports.

[i] “Salary and benefits are most important for US workers and job seekers looking at job ads, according to Glassdoor survey,” Glassdoor Press Center/Press Release, July 25, 2018. Found at

[ii] Kerry Jones, (Feb. 15, 2017), “The Most Desirable Employee Benefits,” The Harvard Business Review. Found at


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