Salary aside, vacation time, career advancement priorities for employees

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Employees are motivated by more than salaries. (Jacob Ammentorp Lund/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Salary is key to job candidates, but other factors weigh heavily and reflect quality-of-life desires, as well as how well their values fit with those of the company they are considering, a survey shows.

Roughly one-quarter of workers (26%) cited vacation time as most important behind what they would be paid, while corporate culture (24%) and career advancement potential (21%) came in close behind, according to the report by Accountemps.

Also getting high marks were work-from-home options, at 11%, and professional development and training, at 9%.

Best foot forward

"In today's employment market, companies need to put their best foot forward when making job offers and, beyond salary, highlight benefits that could entice candidates," Michael Steinitz, executive director of Accountemps, said in a statement. "Professionals want to be hired by organizations that support work-life balance and have values that align with their own. An attractive corporate culture can go a long way toward recruiting and retaining top talent." 

Job seekers “should make a list of must-haves and nice-to-haves before evaluating employment opportunities,” Steinitz said. “Companies may not be able to offer everything. It's best to decide ahead of time what's most important."

Flextime coveted

Flextime is another key component for workers, a separate survey found. In fact, according to the report by Clutch, a B2B research firm, flexible work hours are the perk that influences employee satisfaction the most. More than 40% of the full-time U.S. employees surveyed said that flexible hours are the most important perk they receive, and over half (54%) say it's the perk that matters most to their job satisfaction.

Professional development is the second leading perk, at 22%.

The Clutch survey suggests that going out of one’s way for employees contributes to a stronger work-life balance, with over half of the respondents saying their employer-sponsored perks give them a better quality of life. Perks also suggest that employers value their employees as individuals, with just under half of employees (49%) saying extras make them feel this way. Almost anything can be an employee perk, said Lisa Oyler, human resources director at Access Development.

A candy jar

"Even a candy jar sitting out lends to company culture," she said in the statement. "It provides something that enhances employees' daily experience."

Even free food or fitness classes can make a difference, said June Palmer, director of sales at VIDA Fitness.

Many companies recognize the importance of making their employees feel valued and have taken considerable steps.

For instance, Ross Sapir, president of Roadway Moving Company, created a state-of-the-art, eco-friendly headquarters, complete with solar electricity, gym and training facility and locker rooms, storage and corporate offices. He instituted a matching 401K plan for every employee, regardless of level, and offers a competitive incentive program with significant end-of-year bonuses and awards.

“I’m a huge believer of giving back to employees,” Sapir said.

In the same vein, Roadway participates in multiple corporate social responsibility endeavors, providing an opportunity for employees to feel good, doing good—another draw for workers.