Jul 25, 2019 | 4
Minute Read

What Do Today's Employees Really Want From Their Employer?

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In a highly competitive marketplace, companies need to up the ante to attract the best workers. Fair salaries and medical benefits are no longer enough to attract workers to a new organization. It all comes down to offering certain perks and benefits that truly resonate with the worker of today.

This blog is a curation of direct quotes from MetLife’s 17th annual study about employee benefit trends. We’ve set out to capture a snapshot of what workers of today really want. If you own a company or are responsible for your organization’s hiring, being in tune with the wants of today’s worker can mean all the difference between hiring stars and just filling seats.

According to the study...In the changing world of work, one thing remains constant. For organizations to thrive, employees must thrive too. 

Because thriving, happy employees are better employees — they are more engaged in their work, are more loyal to their employers, and more meaningfully contribute to their organizations’ goals.


Balancing the work/life blend

Today’s employees, across generations, are seeking fulfillment across their work, personal lives, and relationships. Thriving in today’s fast-changing, always-on world — a world where work and life have the potential to blend like never before — sometimes leaves people feeling overwhelmed or like they are falling short in one or both areas. Employers are beginning to recognize this struggle. 

To better compete for and manage talent, they understand they need to value employees’ whole selves and individuality. They are also recognizing that employees need the flexibility and support to not only manage, but enrich their lives — to find greater stability, purpose, and growth both personally and professionally. If employers expect their organizations to thrive, they not only need to rethink the experiences they are creating for employees inside the workplace, but also how they are supporting employees outside of it. 

Employees state that their number-one source of stress is personal finances. Regardless of age or life-stage, a focus on finances tops the list as the biggest concern employees have day to day.

Employees top 5 sources of financial stress include:

  • Being able to afford the cost of healthcare in retirement
  • Outliving retirement savings
  • Having money to pay bills if someone loses their job
  • Having money to cover out-of-pocket medical costs
  • Ability to rely on Social Security/Medicare in retirement

Employees say that solutions that help address financial stress are what they need most to thrive in the workplace and at home. Nearly 6 in 10 employees say an appropriate salary is one of the most important elements to successfully navigating and thriving in the workplace. 



So what about happiness? It’s been said, time and again, that a happy worker is a productive worker. The study found the following:

Top 5 drivers of happiness at work:

  • Employee trust in their company’s leadership
  • Employers’ commitment to employees and their success
  • A culture where employees are encouraged to share ideas and individual opinions
  • A workplace where coworkers feel like family or friends
  • Benefits customized to meet employee needs

Sense of Purpose

Then there is the whole “sense of purpose” thing that dominates workplace conversations daily. Is finding a sense of purpose a pie-in-the-sky ideal or is it actually achievable? And, regardless of the answer, how much of a priority is it for today’s workers?

As employees define themselves more holistically through their work and life, they seek purpose on the job and at home. The ability to find meaning in their work lives is a vital ingredient to their overall happiness. 93% of workers consider purpose a must have or nice to have. 

Employees who feel a strong sense of purpose when working are more….

  • Satisfied with their job 88%
  • Engaged 83%
  • Productive 89%
  • Impactful 80%
  • Successful 82%

Interestingly, employees who feel a sense of purpose feel less stress and fatigue. Only 39% of employees who feel purpose are stressed or tired more than half the time. 


What is most important to employees?

Employers are doing many different things to make employees feel valued and appreciated, including the following:

  • Recognizing employee achievements and hard work
  • Offering a comprehensive benefits program
  • Offer competitive compensation
  • Soliciting employee feedback on a regular basis
  • Investing in employees through training opportunities
  • Providing exposure to senior leadership
  • Providing opportunities to work on projects that are meaningful to employees
  • Professional development opportunities
  • Additional time off to reward good work

Technologies are introducing an entirely new way of working: the gig economy, characterized by work that is often based on a fixed-term contract or paid per project via a third party or online marketplace.

The top reasons full-time workers are interested in the gig economy include:

  • Flexible schedule
  • Ability to work where they want
  • Ability to take on multiple different projects
When it comes to benefits, emerging benefits help employers create the kind of culture that demonstrates a deeper level of care for employees, communicating that their needs are valued and their employer is committed to their success. 

The emerging benefits that interest employees the most include:

  • 72% Unlimited paid time off
  • 69% Wellness programs that reward healthy behavior
  • 68% Phased retirement program
  • 66% Paid sabbatical program
  • 61% On-site free/subsidized services (i.e. meals, gym, dry cleaning, hair)
  • 59% On-site health/medical care (including mental health)
  • 54% The ability to work abroad or take work assignments in a foreign country

The results make perfect sense. We live in a constantly on-the-go world, and decompressing every so often from those daily stresses is the only way to recalibrate. With many companies offering about two weeks vacation per year, it doesn’t necessarily present workers with ample time to step away from their daily tasks, clear their minds and fully recharge.

Without proper time to decompress, the body and mind become like a car driving down the highway stuck in first gear, working much harder and more stressed than they need to be. Granting workers additional time off provides the needed space and time to allow the mind to reset. When the mind is uncluttered, it can work in a state of optimal performance allowing a person to be fully productive and immersed in his or her work. 



Today’s workforce favors the worker, who can be much more particular about where he or she chooses to be employed. With so much competition for top talent, companies that want to rise to the top need to offer opportunities to workers that satisfy both their professional and personal needs. Doing so will help differentiate great companies from the rest, ensuring these companies receive a steady flow of the most sought after employees. 


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Dave Clark