Through our Making Smart Benefit Choices Survey, Mercer asked more than 10,000 workers in 10 markets (US, UK, Ireland, Canada, Brazil, Spain, France, Italy, China and Hong Kong) around the world which benefits they value most and whether they’d be willing to pay extra for certain voluntary benefits.

Given the choice, employees worldwide tend to select benefits that offer immediate gratification rather than those that potentially deliver value over the long term. In fact, an extra week of paid time off was among the top-three employee choices in seven of the ten markets surveyed. Underscoring this trend of “immediacy” over longer-term benefits, employees selected a salary increase over all benefit offerings listed in the survey (except in Canada where paid time off edged out a salary increase).

As to the employees in mainland China,“I would rather have a salary increase, daily commute subsidies or help with my housing plan than any other benefits.”


Respondents were asked to rank 13 types of benefits. Not surprisingly, a ¥2,500 salary increase received the highest ranking, with 18% of respondents indicating this was the most preferable benefit. The benefits that come closest to delivering the same perceived value to employees as a salary increase are a ¥2,500 increase in employer contribution toward daily commute costs and a supplementary employer contribution of ¥2,500 to the housing program. These results were fairly similar across genders and locations.