collage of headshots of people who could be employees of a company “Census respondents point most frequently to retirement savings opportunities, paid time off, and comprehensive health care and prescription medicine coverage,” the survey authors wrote. “All those benefits make it easier to manage through future economic disruptions.” (Photo: Shutterstock)

While some employee and government benefits such as more robust health care plans were universally prioritized, workers of various income brackets each have differing views on what benefits are most important to them and their family, a recent Prudential survey found.

Prudential’s 2020 Financial Wellness Census — which polled 3,000 adults in the United States across various generations in May — found that more affluent workers see retirement benefits as the most important employer benefit while lower-income workers put more value in other offerings such as mental health benefits and greater paid family leave.

Among those making more than $80,000 a year, more than 40% of respondents said they prioritized retirement benefits — as opposed to less than 30% for those making under $50,000 a year. More than any other income bracket, respondents who make more than $100,000 a year said flexible work arrangements such as remote work was a high priority.

Lower-income respondents bringing in less than $50,000 a year prioritized mental health benefits and the ability to work freelance and contractually more than their affluent workers.

But some benefits transcend income: Paid sick leave, comprehensive health care coverage and more vacation time were priorities across all respondents. Paid sick leave was among the most popular benefits for workers making between $50,000 and $80,000, with 36% of respondents saying that sick leave was a priority.

“Census respondents point most frequently to retirement savings opportunities, paid time off, and comprehensive health care and prescription medicine coverage,” the survey authors wrote. “All those benefits make it easier to manage through future economic disruptions.”

The survey’s authors also found that benefit prioritization is somewhat mirrored when asked about government benefits.

With unemployment hovering at 17% amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, many respondents pointed to government health care as the most important government benefit: 43% of respondents say they want more affordable health care, with 33% of respondents preferring universal coverage.

And as with employee benefits, priorities varied by income level. Lower-income respondents favored universal health care, an increased minimum wage and greater government support for small businesses and the unemployed. Higher-income workers, on the other hand, prioritized “less disruption of the status quo.” Fewer supply chain disruptions and more flexible work options were most prioritized among respondents making more than $100,000 a year.

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