Survey: Men prefer perks like happy hours over unlimited paid time off

When it comes to what makes people happy at work, men list management/leadership as their No. 1, while women list compensation.

Do you prefer a higher salary over flexible hours, which would give you more work-life balance? Or the chance to do meaningful work, but at a lower salary? These are some of the biggest factors that contribute to happiness at work.

Wrike, the collaborative work management platform, released the second part of its findings from the company’s inaugural Happiness Index, carried out by Atomik Research. The survey asked employees in the U.S., Germany, France, and the United Kingdom about compensation, benefits, and perks, with at least 1,000 respondents in each country.


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What did the unhappiest U.S. employees say was most important to their happiness at work?

  1. Compensation
  2. Flexible hours/the ability to work remotely
  3. The chance to do meaningful work

That’s quite different than what the happiest employees rank as the three most important things to workplace happiness:

  1. The chance to do meaningful work
  2. Flexible hours/the ability to work remotely
  3. Compensation

Men and women’s happiness factors

On the other side, men and women dream about different things that would make them the happiest. Men list management/leadership as their number one, while women list compensation. (It’s easier to understand compensation as women’s top priority, as they’ve been traditionally underpaid across the board across industries).

However, men list meaningful work as their number four, indicating they don’t need to be doing something meaningful just as long as they’re managing or leading it. Women, however, and list it as their #2.

  • However, money isn’t everything. Over half of all respondents – 58% – said they’d taken a lower-paying job that made them happier.
  • Those who took the pay cut for the new job were 63% more likely to be “mostly happy” or “elated” with the new position.
  • While 72% of men took a pay cut to go after a job to make them higher – vs. only 44% of women – this is most likely due to a gender pay gap.

Perks! Who wants them? Men

Apparently so. The survey shows that male employees dig perks when they’re things/events, mostly preferring perks over money. They even prefer events like happy hours (28%) to more or unlimited PTO (23%).

Women vastly appreciate work-life balance perks like paid time off – but mainly more money.

  • More or unlimited PTO: 23% men; 34% women
  • Free snacks: 10% men; 3% women
  • Happy hours, team building: 28% men; 14% women
  • Onsite conveniences like gym or laundry: 12% men; 6% women
  • No perks, just money, please: 15% men; 34% women

“Companies have long sought for new ways to engage employees and build loyalty with their culture and create happy workplaces with perks, but it’s hard to pin down how those efforts have added up to happiness,” said Wrike Vice President of People Operations Megan Barbier, in a release. ”


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Sheila McClear|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at smcclear@theladders.com.