January 11, 2005 12:39 PM PST

Workers to employers: Show me the time off

Time is more than money for a growing number of American workers, according to a study released Tuesday.

Given a choice between a $5,000 raise and the equivalent in time off, 39 percent of respondents picked the personal time in a survey conducted in November by compensation specialist Salary.com. Three years ago, 33 percent of respondents to a similar question opted for more free time rather than more pay, according to the company.

Although the specific preferences of information technology professionals weren't detailed in the report, IT and engineering were among the top 15 job categories in the online survey of more than 4,600 employees. The overall finding also dovetails with the way a number of technology companies are giving more workers job flexibility.

"This new survey shows a continued growth of the trend among workers to change their priorities from work first to more personal concerns," Tim Driver, senior vice president of consumer products at Salary.com, said in a statement. "Workers are saying they need a break from the stresses caused by increasing hours, reduced staff and the push for more productivity. From these survey results, we can also conclude that a new generation of workers has priorities that differ significantly from those who preceded them."

Since the late 1970s, average work hours have increased, according to the Families and Work Institute. In one corner of the technology industry--video game publishing--employees have been speaking out, effectively saying companies are pushing workers too far when it comes to hours on the job.

According to Salary.com, some participants in its survey said years of working long hours during the 1990s boom, and the layoffs that followed, has dampened their desire to sacrifice personal time for money.

"The trend revealed by this Salary.com survey will combine with changes in the economy and the work force to put new pressures on employers," Bill Coleman, senior vice president of compensation at Salary.com, said in a statement. "The economy is returning to growth as the baby boomer generation starts to retire. Within a few years, we could see labor shortages. This, combined with the changing work priorities of employees, will put pressure on employers to offer more flexibility."

 

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