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Job hunting: higher salary vs. better benefits

By Ana Isabel Alonsagay

When seeking new opportunities in the job market, we often have a set list of priorities in mind. These can typically include a positive company culture, career progression opportunities, and of course – salary and benefits. 

While higher wages have been a classic incentive for job-seekers, recent times have seen a crucial shift in the needs of Australian employees. Statistics reveal that 80% of Australians are now willing to forgo a pay rise for greater work perks; and in the recent events of COVID-19, many are inclined to trade high salaries for better job security and flexibility. 

We explore the reasons for this preference below – and why some workers may still be willing to choose higher salaries. 

Why go with a higher salary?

Immediate cash to pay your bills, for investments, and for everyday purchases

The most prominent benefit to higher pay is the instant boost of cashflow the job provides. This especially benefits those with looming debts or bills to pay; as well as those seeking higher income for everyday purchases and luxuries. 

If your career or personal goals are directly linked to monetary investment, it may be worth pursuing higher pay over a greater benefits package. This immediate, increased spending power can also help you decide how to improve or maintain a work-life balance (and personal lifestyle) that works best for you – which, in turn, can help boost your drive and productivity in the workplace. 

Helps with long-term financial goals

family, saving money concept

Higher salaries not only assist with one’s immediate financial needs – but can also benefit one’s long-term financial goals, too. 

Those looking to invest in property, a side business, or other long-term ventures may fare better with having an instant source of greater income. With proof of high earnings, individuals are more likely to borrow the necessary loans they need. 

Additionally, greater yearly pay improves one’s long-term financial security – a valued incentive amidst the current global pandemic. With Australians now boosting their saving efforts (having bumped their savings up by 56% in the previous year), higher salary offers likely remain a top priority among many.

Instant gratification

Finally, receiving greater pay gives one that instant boost of gratification, helping drive up their motivation and productivity in the workplace.

Higher salaries offer the immediate, psychological reward of feeling valued for your efforts; granting one a tangible payoff for their years of hard work and experience. The satisfaction provided can lead to a healthier, more motivated workplace mindset, pushing you to perform your best and continuously improve. 

Though this ultimately depends on one’s career values, higher pay can also contribute to the feeling of having a greater “professional status” – which, once again, can help boost your confidence and drive as an employee. 

Why go with better benefits?

Healthcare, wellness, and retirement perks

On the flipside, pursuing benefits over pay can lead to long-term job satisfaction and improved overall lifestyle. Such reasons include the generous healthcare and wellness perks these packages commonly offer, such as providing employees with a health insurance plan. 

Australian employers typically offer this benefit in one of three ways: by fully subsidising their workers’ healthcare, by providing partial funding, or by negotiating a health plan package that employees can voluntarily join and pay for themselves. 

Wellness programs are also a common perk in a company’s benefits package – such as offering yoga classes, gym memberships, and mental health resources (among others). Commonwealth Bank has gone as far as offering “financial wellness” programs to assist its workers with their everyday expenses and long-term financial goals. 

Finally, retirement perks are an often attractive employee benefit, helping workers live stable financial lives long after their days in the workplace. These include offering workers a generous pension plan or extra superannuation (a popular benefit sought after by 35% of Australian employees). 

Flexible work opportunities

mother working from home with daughter

With demand for telecommuting on the rise (most especially amidst COVID-19), company benefits are likely to offer employees more flexible hours or the choice to work remotely. 

In fact, statistics deem this as the number one non-salary perk valued by Australian workers, upholding the old adage of “working smarter, not harder”. As stated by Robert Half Australia director Andrew Morris, providing employees this autonomy trumps the act of “insisting that your employees have to be in the office to get work done when they don’t.” 

Attaining flexible work opportunities can help save you money on transport, petrol, or additional childcare costs (if applicable). Eliminating the stress of daily commutes can also boost your productivity, helping you start and finish work earlier – as well as perform at a time and environment that suits you and your needs best. This thus results in improved wellbeing overall, helping you bring your best work performance to the table. 

Benefits packages also commonly include paid time off – including holiday pay, maternity/paternity pay, sick pay, and long service leave. 

Professional development programs

Lastly, companies may offer the benefit of professional training to help further advance your career. This is especially attractive to job-hunters who prioritise career progression and the opportunity to climb the ladder towards more senior roles and responsibilities. 

Professional development can be offered in a number of ways: seminars, conferences, on-site workshops, or an online library of training resources and materials are among the most popular methods. Some companies may even offer formal coaching or mentoring, helping you build industry experience through face-to-face guidance and counselling.  

Online courses are another form of professional training, and may be funded by your company as part of your benefits package. These allow you to branch out to new areas of expertise, helping expand your skills for new project (or industry) opportunities.

With opportunities for skills development, you’re likely to carry out workplace tasks with greater confidence and purpose. You’ll also be better-equipped to plot your career journey and plans towards advancement.

Take the job that fits your career goals 

While job perks are now all the rage (and rightfully so), choosing between a higher pay or benefits package ultimately depends on your specific career goals. Some may truly fare better with a higher salary offer – while others may be drawn to the satisfaction and security a company’s benefits can offer. Take the time to assess your priorities as a job-seeker, and use these to make the choice you see fit. 

As mentioned, professional development is ideal for helping further your career goals – whether this be advancing the ladder or seeking new roles. Upskilled currently offers a wide range of online courses across Australia’s top industries – including community services, business management, and IT – equipping job-seekers (and current workers) with the qualifications required for career growth. 

Build the skills you need for the job you want, and enquire with us on a course today.
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*By providing your information, you agree to our Privacy Policy and to receiving email and other forms of communication from Upskilled. You are able to opt-out at any time.