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Home / Blog / 2024 Survey: 74% Of Workers Would Rather Have a $50K Bonus than a 4-Day Workweek

2024 Survey: 74% Of Workers Would Rather Have a $50K Bonus than a 4-Day Workweek

SSR’s survey to uncover surprising statistics about America’s secret life of work

Frieda-Marié de Jager
Senior Content Marketing Editor for SSR with 14 years of technical journalism and people management experience
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15+ Best Employee Rewards Programs (2024)

What would you pay to never sit in an online meeting again? If you knew the feeling was mutual, would you leave your partner for your office crush? Ever fantasize about firing your boss? Ever wonder if the secret thoughts and pet peeves you have about work are actually common opinions? 

We ran an anonymous poll to learn more about the secret psyche of American workers, and we learned some interesting stuff. 

In This Article

Our Most Intriguing Findings:

  • 14.20% of workers said that, if they knew their office crush was into them too, they’d break it off with their partner in a second. 
  • Over two-thirds of our respondents (69.6%) would prefer to work with a human assistant than an AI assistant with the same abilities.
  • Zoom has exposed 25.20% of our respondents to some unintended nudity during a video call.
  • 30.20% of people would choose a mediocre job over their dream job if it spared them a long commute. 
  • 51.20% of surveyed workers opted for a 20% salary increase instead of unlimited PTO. 
  • Of our respondents, 36.60% were happy to forego a $40,000 bonus if it meant they had guaranteed remote work for life.
  • About two-thirds (66.80%) of people want to be paid for their time. The rest would like to be compensated based on the success of their efforts. 
  • When asked to choose between a $50,000 one-off bonus, or a guaranteed four-day workweek forever, 74.4% of our survey respondents opted for the cash.
  • More than a quarter (26.20%) of respondents are happy to forego a $10,000 increase in earnings instead of wearing a suit to work. 
  • Over half (57.40%) of our respondents chose an in-person job that allows them to come and go as they please over a remote job with fixed hours. 

When and Where Do People Want to Work?

In recent years we’ve seen an uptake in flexibility regarding where and when people work. Remote work makes sense in a lot of industries, and there are immense benefits for companies in having a remote and/or asynchronous workforce. But companies are not just going remote for the sake of convenience— many workers demand it

The choice of when and where to work, the option of a digital nomadic lifestyle, and the recently popular four-day workweek are all sought-after selling points for attracting top talent in today’s competitive labor market. However, we were surprised to learn that money still holds the top rung in many of our respondents’ priority ladders.

Survey responses about remote and flexible work preferences. 

In our survey, we ask workers whether they would rather have a $40,000 bonus in their bank account today, or guaranteed remote work forever. 

Of the respondents, 36.60% were happy to forego the financial incentive to work remotely for life. Still, 317 of the workers, which make up a 63.40% majority of our pool, opted to forego remote work to get the $40,000 payout. 

But what if the stakes were higher? We also asked workers whether they would prefer a $50,000 bonus in their bank account today, or a four-day workweek forever. 

Nearly three-quarters, or 74.40% to be exact, opted for the $50,000 payout over three-day weekends. That being said, the 25.60% who opted for the four-day workweek may have their own financial threshold where money talks loudest. 

When it comes to flexibility, people have their own ideals. We asked whether workers would rather have flexible work hours for an in-office job, or work remotely with fixed hours. Interestingly enough, flexibility in when they need to work is more important than freedom to choose where they work from. 

57.40% of respondents chose an in-person job that allows them to come and go as they please. The remaining 42.60% said they’d be happier working set hours, but from home. 

Overall, flexibility is a big deal for workers. In 2022 research conducted by MyPerfectResume, people reported on elements of their job that negatively impacted job satisfaction. Of the options given, 19% of respondents cited a lack of flexible working options, and 15% said a lack of remote working options had this effect. But remote work comes with its own challenges. Enter the virtual meeting…

Love Remote Work, but Can’t Stand Online Meetings

For many workers, virtual meetings are a total drag. As Zoom, Google Meet, and other online meeting tools become more commonplace in business, we’ve also become familiar with terms like Zoom fatigue and Zoom anxiety. These meetings can leave some workers feeling trapped, stressed, and exhausted. Some people are even prepared to leave money on the table, just to get out of virtual meetings forever. 

We asked respondents whether they would take a $20,000 cut in their salary to never have to log onto Zoom again. Nearly a third were happy to do it. 30.20% of respondents answered, “Without question, I do not like speaking to people online.” The other 69.80% said Zoom is a great tool— no one is touching their money. 

Survey feedback on how workers experience video conferencing.

Zoom Spares No Blushes

Whether we like it or not, virtual meetings are a fixture of the modern workplace. Some people are struggling to get the hang of it though.

We asked our survey pool whether they’ve seen someone in a state of undress because they didn’t realize their camera was on during a virtual meeting. 

25.20% of our respondents have seen some unintended nudity during a video call, and thought it was very funny. The other 74.80% are thankful to have been spared that visual. 

Even more have seen something untoward in a screen share. Of our respondents, 34.60% have spotted something embarrassing on a colleague’s computer screen while they were sharing it with a call. 65.40% said they’d not noticed anything like that, but that it sure would be interesting...

Convenience vs Career Growth

When it comes to career growth and professional development, we’re all very eager to get in line, right? Or is immediate convenience our greater concern? The short answer is, it depends. 

We asked our respondents if they’d rather commute two hours to their dream job or live two minutes from a mediocre job. Nearly seven out of ten chose the step up in career. 

Of the 500 respondents, 349 said they’d take on the two-hour commute for a job they really want. That’s 69.80%! The other 30.20% said the mediocre job is just fine, they’d rather have the convenience of living close to their workplace. 

We also asked our workers whether they would rather get paid for professional development or get free gourmet lunches every day. Nearly a third of people let their stomachs decide. 

Of the respondents, 29.60% chose “Glorious food” provided by their employer, while 70.40% said paid opportunities for development would be amazing. 

Survey responses about career growth opportunities.

Family Matters

As we’ve established, flexibility in where and when they work matters to employees. An international survey run by Slack found that, of their 9,000 respondents, 72% prefer a hybrid remote-office model. A mere 12% of the workers prefer to always work in an office setting, but the need for some in-person work is evident.

The survey also found that a mere 13% of workers would like to work exclusively from home if they were given the choice. 

A lot of the time, the need for working flexibility among employees is more for the sake of taking care of their families than a personal preference. We asked workers whether they would be okay working from the office if their employer paid for child care, or, if the offer was on the table, they still preferred to work remotely.

Just over half of our respondents, 54.20% to be exact, said that they would happily work in an office if child care were covered by their employer. The remaining 45.80% said that working from home is still their choice, whether free childcare was on offer or not. 

Survey responses about remote or in-office work preferences.

How Personal is Work? 

It seems that there are also some blurred lines between the working and personal lives of our respondents. In our survey, we asked if they would leave their current partner for their workplace crush, providing that the object of their affection was also interested in them. 

14.20% of workers said that if their office crush said “yes”, they’d break it off with their partner in a second. 

The majority of respondents, 73.00%, said they’re happy staying in their relationship, and a cautious 12.80% said they “plead the fifth”.

Nonetheless, most workers are not too keen on an overlap between their personal and professional lives. When asked “Would you rather have a boss that shows too much interest in your personal life or one that never discusses personal matters, yours or theirs?” The majority opted for distance. 

Nearly three-quarters of our respondents, 73.40%, said their boss should keep personal matters out of the conversation because they prefer to keep their private life private. The other 26.60% were of the opinion that they would “feel valued if [their] boss took interest in [their] personal life”.

Survey answers about workplace crushes and firing your boss.

Unrelated to this, we asked respondents “If you could switch places with your boss for the day, would you fire them?” Nearly a fifth of people jumped at the chance! 

19.40% of respondents said that, if they were given the opportunity, they would fire their boss in a heartbeat. The other 80.60% said that, in a role reversal scenario, they would use the time being their boss’s boss more proactively. 

Show Me the Money… or Don’t

One thing we’re all sensitive about is our money. Not just in how much we get, but also who knows. We posed the following question to our respondents: “Would you rather all salaries in your company be transparent (including your own), or keep them a secret?”

A convincing majority of 62.60% said salaries are private information and should be kept a secret. That being said, 37.40% believe wage information should be accessible to all. 

This is a profound insight given that many states recently passed laws mandating pay transparency. The argument is that, when salary information is available to all, workers are able to fight for equality in their earnings. Prior to these laws being passed, companies could choose to keep wage records on a need-to-know basis. Of companies that haven’t been disclosing salary information, 75% admitted that they do so because they fear access to this information would create salary disputes. 

Survey responses about salary and remuneration. 

We also asked our pool of workers what they would like to be compensated for, their time, or a positive outcome. When posed the question, “Would you rather get paid for your time, or for the results of your work?” two-thirds opted for hour-based remuneration. 

To be exact, 66.80% of our respondents want to be paid for their time. 33.20% are happy being paid based on the success of their efforts. 

Speaking of getting paid for your time. We offered our survey pool the option of unlimited vacation time or a 20% salary increase. They were pretty divided on this point. 

When comparing the benefits of a 20% raise or unlimited PTO, 48.80% of respondents chose the time, saying “Family is very important”. A small majority of 51.20% opted for the 20% salary increase instead. 

What Would You Trade for More Money?

Would you wear a suit to work every day if it meant you get a $10,000 raise? We asked our survey respondents this, and a keen 73.80% said, “Let's Suit Up!”

The remaining 26.20% of respondents are happy to forego a $10,000 increase in earnings for the pleasure of being comfortably dressed while working. 

Survey results about whether workers prioritize self-care or money.

We also tried to get a sense of how workers value mental support. We offered them the $10,000 raise again, but this time they had to choose between the money or free therapy.

A whopping 78.80% of our survey pool said they’d be happy to take a $10,000 raise over free therapy. Just over a fifth, or 21.20%, said the therapy is important enough for them to forgo the extra income.

Diversity Salaries

As of March 2023, the average annual pay for talent with a diverse background in the United States is $92,181 a year. That works out to about $44.32 an hour or $7,681 per month.

ZipRecruiter reports the majority of annual salaries for employees with a diverse background range between $60,000 (25th percentile) and $116,000 (75th percentile) with top earners (90th percentile) making $151,500 annually. The average pay range varies greatly which suggests a lot of opportunity for advancement and increased pay based on the skill level of diverse job seekers, the location of the employer, and candidate experience.

We asked our survey respondents how much more should an employer be willing to pay an employee with a diverse background. They had the option of responding with 0%,10%, 25%, or 50% over the standard salary.

Survey respondent feedback on whether diversity hires should be paid more than the standard salary for a position. 

Over a fifth (22.80%) of respondents said there should be no difference in compensation for diversity— that diversity hires should get the same pay as everyone else. 

The most popular response is that employees with diverse backgrounds should get 10% more. 36.40% of our respondents felt this way. 26.40% of them said a 25% increase over the base pay is fair, and 14.40% of people felt it should be 50% more than what the position would otherwise pay. 

What if Machines Took Over the World?

It’s no secret that artificial intelligence is gaining popularity and application ability. According to recent data published by CompTIA, 38% of employees expect their job to be automated in 2023. They also report that 13% of workers expect AI to eliminate positions entirely in their industry. An article by Hostinger reveals the three most vulnerable job sectors to be affected by AI are healthcare, automotive and financial services.

Respondent feedback about artificial intelligence. 

Naturally, we wanted to know what our respondents thought of AI. We asked them, “In a world where AI is as smart as people and does all of our work so there is no need to worry about money, would you still do your job or something completely different?”

About two-thirds, 67.40% said that they love their job and would continue with it even if artificial intelligence could do it just as well. The other 32.60% of respondents said they would do something completely different with their time. 

We also asked our group whether, given the choice, they would hire a human assistant or an AI assistant that can do the same work.

The majority of respondents (69.6%) said that, all abilities begin equal, they would prefer to work with a human assistant. The other 30.40% are ready to embrace AI, it being the future and all. 

Our Respondents 

This survey was run in the first quarter of 2023. Our respondents consist of 500 individuals who are all living and working in the United States. 55% of respondents are male, and 45% are female. Generationally they range from Gen Z to Gen X.

Respondent data of worker survey.

Third-party sources

Frieda-Marié de Jager
Senior Content Marketing Editor for SSR with 14 years of technical journalism and people management experience
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Frieda has been writing about technical subjects including corporate compliance, customs law, and technology for over 12 years. She holds a BTech degree in design and is a published short story author in her homeland, South Africa.

Besides being an avid content strategist, editor, writer, and graphic designer, she has spent the last 5 years developing online learning material and the last 16 years leading world-class design, marketing, and writing teams.

On weekends you can find her building Lego with the family or whipping up a storm in the kitchen.

Also featured in: ProofHub, Vantage Circle, SME Toolkit, ExpertHub, Bucketlist Rewards, Software Suggest ,HR Chief, RecruitingDaily, Factorial HR, Recruiting Headlines

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