To obtain the best benefit package, it's a good idea to look to
industries that are experiencing a hiring boom, or those that
are facing a talent shortage.
How do you choose a company that offers good benefits? The
first step is to define what benefits are most important to
you. Are you interested in financial perks or a balance between
your work and personal life? While some companies focus on one
end of the spectrum or the other, it is possible to have both.
So where do you begin?
Industry is the most frequent determinant of benefits,
because each field has a unique culture that gives rise to
distinct priorities regarding benefits. For example, finance,
insurance, and real estate services are the most generous
with benefits, according to a study by the Work and Families
Institute -- especially benefits related to long-term
financial security. Another example is the non-profit sector,
which is known for offering exceptional health care benefits.
To obtain the best benefit packages, it's a good idea to look
to industries that are experiencing a hiring boom, like
health care, or those that are facing a talent shortage, such
as information technology. Keep in mind that within each
industry there are exceptions to the norm--good and bad--so
do some research before making a judgment.
Like each industry, every company has a distinct corporate
culture that affects the selection of benefits they offer.
Companies with traditional cultures typically offer standard
benefits -- including healthcare, pensions, and limited paid
vacation time. Those with more progressive cultures are more
likely to offer a broader array of benefits -- including
flextime, stock options, and paternity leave. Ask around to
see what kind of reputation a given company has, and refer to
"best company" surveys in magazines such as Fortune, Money,
and Working Mother.
The next most influential factor in determining benefits is
size. While larger companies have more money and resources to
put toward benefits, smaller companies often have less
traditional corporate environments that lend themselves to
more flexibility and creativity in determining benefits.
Difficulty Filling Positions
Companies that are experiencing difficulty filling positions
tend to be more open to giving employees what they ask for.
These companies are also more likely to offer benefits such
as flextime, management/leadership training for women, health
insurance for part-time workers, and retirement accounts.
The following factors are related mainly to work-life
Proportion of Female Executives
One provocative finding of the Work and Families Institute
study was that companies with the best work-life benefits
also have an above-average percentage of female executives.
Eighty-two percent of companies with women in at least fifty
percent of the top positions provide flextime, compared with
56 percent of companies with no women in top executive
Proportion of Minority Executives
A similar pattern emerged in relation to the number of
minorities in top positions. For example, nearly four times
as many companies with minorities in executive positions
offer on- or near-site child care.
Women as a Percentage of the Workforce
A company is more likely to provide flexible benefit
options--such as job sharing, part-time work arrangements,
time off to attend school functions, longer maternity leaves,
and direct subsidies for child care--when women constitute a
larger proportion of its workforce.
Hourly and part-time employees as a percentage of the
While it may seem that hourly employees have a greater need
for benefits because they are concentrated in lower paying
jobs, companies that have a large number of hourly workers
are less likely to provide significant benefits. In addition,
even though companies with a lot of part-time workers are
more likely to offer flexible work arrangements, they are
less likely to provide health insurance or benefits that
ensure economic security. The bottom line is that the best
benefits typically come with full-time, salaried positions.