Over half of American workers will stay at an unsatisfying job to keep their benefits

·3-min read

Don't assume that your employees will be enticed back into the office because they missed perks like catered breakfasts or happy hours — a new poll suggests they have other priorities in mind.

According to a recent survey of 2,000 American workers, 57% would willingly give up free in-office food for free mental health resources instead. 

Similarly, 62% consider it a "red flag" when they encounter job listings that describe "how fun it is" to work for a prospective employer, while 53% feel similarly about office perks like ping-pong tables or in-house coffee shops.

The data found this to be especially true with millennial respondents (25-40), who were over 30% more likely to treat these perks with suspicion than baby boomers (56+). 

"Workers became used to making their own coffee and lunch, but a lot of people still struggle with the extra stress and anxiety that bubbled up during the pandemic. They need additional support with both their physical and mental health," said Chris Mosunic, PhD, Vida Health's Chief Clinical Officer. "Every company wants their workforce to be happy and healthy and in 2021, the key to that is improved access to mental healthcare."

The research, commissioned by Vida Health and reported by OnePoll, found that for almost six in 10, health benefits ranked as the most important non-salary-related factors they consider. That's about four times as many as those who cited an interest in the work itself (15%). 

Not surprisingly, healthcare stood out as the most sought-after benefit among 65% of respondents, while lack of health insurance also topped the list of biggest deal breakers (42%).

While seven in 10 admit to being more conscious of their mental health now than they were five years ago, many employers haven't entirely caught up. 

Despite 67% of respondents stating they feel that their mental health is valued at their workplace, only one in four of these respondents believe mental health to be their employer's "biggest priority."

Meanwhile, 49% believe that their physical health is considered by their employers to be more important than their mental health, compared to only 31% who believe both to be equally important. 

Another 54% even claim that when it comes to mental health, their employer seems more concerned with how it affects their productivity than their actual well-being. 

But not having the right benefits isn't always a dealbreaker; more than half of those polled (58%) had to compromise when they accepted their current position, including more millennials than any other demographic.

Overall, 53% of survey-takers have stayed at an unsatisfying job to keep their benefits.

"Mental health struggles in the workplace aren't rare," added Mosunic. "One in five employees in the U.S. struggle with a mental health ailment, which ends up costing employers billions of dollars annually. And while we've made strides by offering more benefits that address mental health, we're still far from where we need to be because of issues like stigma, awareness, and lack of access. What is truly needed is a benefits system that looks at employees as whole people — both mind and body."

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