Two in five UK employees would take a willing pay cut for better benefits

  • Financial protection a top priority for a third of UK employees when considering a new job.
  • 35% look for generous pension contributions.
  • 42% would assess annual leave allowances and 34% would like to see mental health support and wellness packages.
  • To support employers with offering full-service benefits at an affordable price, MetLife UK has  re-launched its limited term Group Income Protection.

Two in five (40%) UK employees would choose a job that offers a lower salary, but generous employee benefits (i.e. income protection, death in service, hybrid working), according to new research from protection and employee benefits provider, MetLife UK

When looking at financial benefits of a potential new job, 37% said financial bonuses are important to them while 35% of UK employees would like generous pension contributions. Financial protection also known as income Protection (a policy that ensures employees receive part or all of their salary should they have to take time off work due to an accident or illness leaving them unable to work) was also a top priority for a third (33%) and private healthcare and dental care were ranked as important by 26%.

When considering other benefits, nearly half (47%) stated hybrid and flexible working was important, while 42% of UK employees would look at annual leave allowances. 34% would also like to see mental health support and wellness packages.

This research comes as MetLife UK launches a limited term* option to its Group Income Protection offering, helping businesses keep their staff happy and healthy. The service will not only provide monthly payments for long-term absence, but also offer supporting services such as GP24 (a 24/7 virtual GP service), early intervention, rehabilitation and an employee assistance programme. The limited term option offers employers a much more affordable choice for providing cover for employee absence, all while helping minimise long-term illness and prevent time off work.

Currently in the UK, the standard rate of employee absence sits at 7.8 days per employee per year1, jumping to its highest rate in a decade. This costs business an average of £1.75 million for an organisation with 1,000-employees, when taking into account temporary staff, admin, lost productivity, recruitment and training2, demonstrating the importance of protection products being in place for a workforce.

Adrian Matthews, Head of Employee Benefits at MetLife UK, said: “Benefits are becoming increasingly more important to employees, and rightly so. Competitive salaries are important, but businesses need to realise that it’s not the only thing candidates think about when assessing job opportunities. Employers need to look beyond pay cheques and assess options for wider support and protection to attract and retain the best people. 

“At MetLife, we offer a limited term option to our Group Income Protection product, because we know that in current climates, now more than ever, employers need to balance providing a fuller suite of employee benefits at an affordable cost to the business. Having the choice of a shorter duration of cover can reduce costs by over 50%, protecting employees for “the now”, whilst also protecting overheads.

“We are seeing that limited term may be a more fit-for-purpose solution in the changing landscape of employment – where people move around from job to job more frequently. Our research found that employees have already held an average of four jobs. And with almost one in four (23%) planning to leave their current role in the next 12 months, employers offering better benefits could mean attracting the best talent.” 

Research conducted by Censuswide on behalf of MetLife UK amongst 2,009 employees in January 2024.  

*Limited Term Group Income Protection provides financial support and rehabilitation services to employees if they’re absent from work due to an illness or injury, for between 1 to 5 years, with the option to receive a lump sum benefit of up to 5x benefit (or salary equivalent when allowing for basic income benefit), with an overall maximum of £1 million.