What is the Difference Between Benefits and Perks?

What is the Difference Between Benefits and Perks?

What’s the Difference between Benefits and Perks?

A study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation found that “more than half of millennials (56%) agreed that a quality benefits package influences their choice of employers and 63% say that benefits are an important reason in staying with an employer.”

We get it, benefits are important, but what about perks? And what’s the difference between benefits and perks? Here’s some clarification:

The Difference

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics defines benefits as “non-wage compensation provided to employees” and the National Compensation Survey groups benefits into five categories:

  • Paid leave
  • Supplementary pay
  • Retirement
  • Insurance
  • Legally required benefits

These benefits cover the basic needs of employees and some are even required, like worker’s comp.

Robert Half describes employee benefits as a form of non-wage compensation that if not offered, employees would likely have to self-fund, while perks are “nice-to-have additions to an employee’s salary and benefits package.” Perks are offerings that might be the “icing on the cake” for a candidate comparing employment opportunities.

Perks tend to be more loosely defined than benefits. Perks are non-wage compensation provided to employees that tells more about a company’s culture and values and are less heavily weighted than benefits in a candidate’s decision-making process.

Examples of Benefits

  • Healthcare (Medical, Dental, Vision)
  • Retirement savings or 401(K)
  • Paid time off
  • Maternity/Paternity leave
  • Life insurance

Examples of Perks

  • Company car
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Free food
  • Paid time off to volunteer
  • Flexible schedules

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  • Susan Pyles

    An award-winning human resource leader, Susan is ERC’s Vice President of Professional Development. In her role, she oversees the delivery of all client service solutions. Susan brings more than 20 years of achievements in talent management and assessment, performance management, employee experience, HR analytics, leadership development, coaching, and workforce planning. She has leadership experience in many industries, including manufacturing, retail, financial services, health care, and academia.