Employees want mental health benefits, professional development: EY survey

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Mental health benefits and professional development opportunities represent some of the most desired benefits in the workplace, according to a new EY U.S. survey.

The "Better You" survey utilized data provided by two online surveys commissioned by EY U.S. and conducted by Engine Insights last fall. The first survey polled 1,339 full-time working adults in the United States ages 18 and older, and the second survey polled 1,004 undergraduate college students, ages 18 to 23 years old, in the U.S.

Among the main findings of the survey:

  • Seventy percent of employed adults polled were found to prefer long-term benefits (401(k) plans) over short-term benefits (gym memberships);
  • Over half of Gen Z and millennial respondents said that they take advantage of professional development opportunities offered by their workplace;
  • Almost half (40 percent) of employed adults have admitted to taking mental health days; and,
  • Eighty-seven percent of polled adults want to belong to a workplace that "supports mindfulness."

“As mental health and mindfulness continue to take the workplace by storm, ensuring that benefits are constantly evolving to meet the needs of employees is key to recruiting and retaining top talent,” said Wendy Edgar, EY Americas director of human resources, in a statement. “It is now more important than ever to foster a flexible work environment that is attuned to the needs of individuals from different generations and backgrounds.”

Also notable is that nearly one-third (29 percent) of employees polled admitted to not taking full advantage of their provided company benefits, with 37 percent going so far as to say they aren't sure they understand all of the benefits offered to them.
“There is a clear disconnect between the number of employees who believe they are taking full advantage of their benefits, and those who are actually doing it,” said Carolyn Slaski, EY Americas vice chair of talent, in a statement. “It is imperative that companies break down barriers of benefits to provide employees with the access and understanding of their needs."
Other notable findings from the survey include:

  • Sixty-seven percent of employed Gen Z and 76 percent of college students prefer long-term benefits over short-term benefits. Seventy-eight percent of baby boomers agree.
  • Over a third (36 percent) of female respondents who do not take full advantage of their benefits say it is because the benefits do not meet their needs.
  • Almost one-third (29 percent) of employed adults do not use all of their company’s allotted paid time off, but 40 percent admit to taking mental health days.
  • More than half (56 percent) of polled college students have taken a mental health day.
  • Sixty-three percent of employed adults say they would be comfortable speaking about their mental health at work.
  • Employed adults say they value a competitive salary (61 percent) and a generous health care benefits package (60 percent) above all.
  • Gen Z employees prioritize good health care benefits (47 percent) over a competitive salary.
  • Just over half of employed adults (52 percent) say they take advantage of their company’s professional development opportunities.
  • Eighty-six percent of employed adults’ companies offer professional development programs/opportunities.
  • In terms of continued learning opportunities, college students want their future employers to provide skills-based training/credentials programs (54 percent), formal/continuing education (17 percent), and mentorship programs (12 percent).
  • If disruption threatened their job, 64 percent of employed adults would utilize training opportunities provided by their company to take on another role rather than opt for a severance package.

For more on the survey, head to EY's site here.

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