Spotlight for Recruiting Professionals
Are employers providing the benefits that their new college hires want most? Not in all cases, according to results of NACE’s Class of 2017 Student Survey.
Students who planned to immediately enter the work force after graduation have long indicated that a good benefits package is a top priority. For the Class of 2017, “good” benefits mean a company-matched 401(k) plan, dental insurance, and guaranteed annual salary increases.
Other benefits that students most want—each deemed important by more than half of students—include 100-percent employer-paid medical insurance, life insurance, tuition reimbursement for advanced education, and “family-friendly” benefits.
How students’ benefit preferences change over time tends to reflect their job market outlook, and the current slate of preferred benefits hints at the positive perception the Class of 2017 has of the job market. For the classes of 2007 through 2010, the top five most preferred benefits included 100 percent employer-paid medical insurance, a company-matched 401(k) plan, dental insurance, guaranteed annual salary increases, and life insurance.
In the years following the recession, dental insurance and life insurance took a backseat to two benefits that suggest some degree of disengagement with the prospect of gainful employment. For the classes of 2011 through 2016, tuition reimbursement for advanced education was a staple of the “top five.” For the classes of 2013 through 2015, so too was more than two weeks of vacation in the first year of employment.
The Class of 2017, however, is the first graduating class in seven years whose top five most preferred benefits were identical to those of the classes of 2007 through 2010. This most recent shift in benefit preferences may indicate that this class of graduates has a more positive job outlook than graduates have had for several years.
NACE’s Class of 2017 Student Survey was conducted from February 15 to April 30, 2017; more than 21,000 students at colleges and universities nationwide took part, including 4,200 graduating seniors. Participating schools will find a complimentary copy of the report in MyNACE > Research Reports; an executive summary is available on NACEWeb.
Figure 1: Students’ employee benefits preferences vs. what employers typically offered
Source: Class of 2017 Student Survey Report, National Association of Colleges and Employers. In this analysis, the percentages corresponding to "considered important by students" represent, among students who planned to enter the work force immediately after graduation, the percentage who, on a five-point scale, indicated that the respective employee benefit was either "very" (4) or "extremely" (5) important. Employer offer data are from the 2016 Recruiting Benchmarks Survey.
||Considered Important by Students
||Offered by Employers
|Company-matched 401(k) plan
|Guaranteed annual salary increases
|100% employer-paid medical insurance
|Tuition reimbursement for advanced education
|2+ weeks of vacation in the first year of work
|Frequent performance reviews
|Employee assistance/counseling program
|Casual dress policy
|On-site fitness center
|On-site child care facilities