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Men and women differ on the value of perks

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A battle of the sexes is underway in UK workplaces when it comes to perks of the job as men would still rather have a company car than an office crèche, according to research carried out by pension firm Virgin Direct.

Virgin's second annual Desk Divide survey looks at what workplace perks UK employers offer their staff and what male and female employees actually want. A pension their employer pays into is not only the top choice among employees (89 per cent) but it is the only perk men and women agree on.

Aside from pensions, women and men have very different perspectives on perks, particularly when it comes to family-friendly benefits. Less than half of men (47 per cent) rated a crèche as a priority but 60 per cent of women wanted crèche facilities. Only a dismal three per cent of companies actually offer such facilities.

Similarly, 74 per cent of women would like paid paternity leave but men seem less keen to be at home with baby with only 65 per cent of men voting for paid paternity. Only 24 per cent of UK employees actually get paid paternity leave.

Women rated flexitime highly (86 per cent), as did men at 79 per cent, and it is the most commonly offered workplace perk with 57 per cent of companies offering some form of flexible working.

This year's Desk Divide survey has also measured the demand for career breaks/sabbaticals for the first time. Sixty-six per cent of women would like it as a perk, men are less keen at 59 per cent, and only 13 per cent of firms actually offer it.

The gulf between what employees want and what employers actually deliver is not surprising as the survey shows 73 per cent of workers said they had never been asked by bosses what perks they would like.

Virgin Direct's Gordon Maw said: "Clearly, saving for retirement is a focus for all workers with men and women both rating a pension with payments from their employer as the top perk but they go their separate ways from that point onwards.

"Women are very keen on family-friendly policies and men seem to be less enthusiastic to tear themselves away from work. When it comes to paternity leave, for example, men are more reluctant than women to take paid leave and help out with a new baby at home. Equally, men would rather have a company car than the office crèche demanded by 60 per cent of women workers."

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