Students rank health care as No.1 employee benefit


UNF seniors expect many things from their employers, but their top priority as far as employee benefits are concerned is a solid medical insurance policy, students said.

Several seniors at UNF reflected the results of a 2008 survey by the National Association of College and Employers in which 19,000 students all over the United States rated medical insurance as a top priority in terms of employee benefits.

The survey also asked about employer attributes and other employee benefits that students look for when seeking a job.

“Health care is such a big issue,” said Shannon Italia, director of the Career Management Center at the Coggin College of Business. “[Students] have probably seen it in their personal lives with their parents, aunts and uncles and are aware of the ramifications of not having healthcare.”

The benefits companies offer for health care are extraordinarily varied, and students should take time to understand the entire package, Italia said.

“Exercise caution and be very detail-orientated when comparing offers,” Italia said. “Sometimes the salary will be more than you expected, but the benefits package is much less comprehensive.”

Muhammad Hussain, a senior finance and economics major, said affordable health care is the main employee benefit he would want from a company.

“The cost of medical expenses has been increasing exponentially over the last couple of years and I want my family to be taken care of,” Hussain said.

Heather Hambrecht, a senior double majoring in philosophy and sociology, ranked health insurance and dental insurance as her top two picks, although she is not familiar with all the benefits that are available from employers, she said.

“You have to be healthy to work,” said senior political science major Esperandieu Elbon, whose first choice of a benefit would be health care. “If I don’t have insurance then [you will have] no peace of mind, and that will affect your performance at work.”

His second and third choices were paid vacation time and a retirement package, Elbon said.

Hussain and Elbon were in agreement that prestige was an important factor – but more so in the beginning of their careers when they will be establishing themselves.

“Early on in my career I will care about the prestige even more than salary,” Hussain said. “But after I have built up my resume, I would care more about salary.”

Besides health care, the benefits Italia recommended were some sort of savings plan and tuition reimbursement.

UNF’s Career Management Center in Building 42 can be a great resource for students who want some direction in critically looking at the offers that they receive, Italia said.

When students bring in offers to review at the Career Management Center, they often leave with more questions, but that’s not a bad thing, Italia said.

Top benefits students seek
1. Medical insurance
2. Annual salary increases
3. 401(k)plan
4. Dental insurance
5. More than 2 weeks vacation
6. Life insurance
7. Family friendly benefits (family leave, elder care, etc.)
8. Tuition reimbursement
9. Pension plan
10. Bonuses and commissions
11. Flextime
12. Performance reviews

Source: National Association of College and Employers.

E-mail Saman Quraeshi at [email protected]