What Would You Sacrifice for a Better Work-Life Balance?

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Salaries seem to have flat-lined recently, inching up just 2.25 percent in the past two years. But that doesn’t mean companies aren’t using good perks to recruit and retain all-star talent.

“It’s not all about good pay anymore,” says Kristen Bonner, research lead at personal finance site GoBankingRates.com. “But many of the perks and benefits that are becoming more common are centered around creating a work-life balance for employees. And younger people in particular are starting to consider these more.” Work-from-home policies, extended parental leaves, and student loan repayment programs are just three benefits that she’s seen gaining traction.

When GoBankingRates.com surveyed 1000 workers, the findings confirmed that most of us put a premium on getting away from work: Nearly two-thirds of respondents said they’d rather wear a hat with the company logo all day, every day than spend an extra two hours at the office, in order to earn a free ride to and from work. And when asked what they’d do to get a four-day work week, 58 percent of people said they'd rather forgo cable and internet than hang out with only coworkers on the weekends. To have an employer cover their income taxes, only one-third of respondents were willing to give up their vacation days for the year, while a staggering 67 percent of respondents were willing to scrub the office bathroom every day.

“It’s clear from the survey that people are less concerned with luxury or appearance than they are about having some balance between work and their personal lives,” says Bonner. When asked what they’d do for a $100,000 bonus, more respondents opted to live without their phone for a year than have the HR director for a roommate.

What about turning over cash for a better quality of work life? Millennials, at least, are willing to take a $7800 pay cut, according to a Fidelity Investments study published in April. Yet the same study found that only 27 percent of millennials consider paid time off when evaluating a job offer.

Those conflicting stats suggest that many of us are salary-driven when we’re job hunting and then benefits-obsessed once we’re in the grind of the 9-to-5. A note to job-seekers: Scrutinize the vacation days in that offer letter! Your future self will thank you.