"We invest in benefits from day one. ... My benefits package is the same as a benefits package here at the fulfillment center. I think we've got an egalitarian process."
-- John Olsen, Vice president of human resources, Amazon.com

When you're thinking about what career field to enter or switch into, it's smart to consider the job benefits that come with each option. While it's true that benefits can vary widely by company, there are still some industries that generally offer better benefit packages than others.

3 winning medals on white background. Number 1 gold medal, number 2 silver medal, and number 3 bronze medal.

Image source: Getty Images.

Which benefits matter most?

Employees value some particular benefits more than others -- and here's what the folks at Monster found when they surveyed people to see which benefits were valued when considering prospective jobs:

Benefit

Percentage of Prospective Employees Value

Health insurance

32%

Vacation time

25%

Pay raises

15%

Employee benefits

10%

Performance bonus

9%

Retirement plan

8%

Data source: Monster.com. 

Clearly, health insurance and vacation time are treasured. It's not quite as simple as that, of course. Those with lower incomes tended to value health insurance more highly, while higher earners were more interested in vacation time. The benefits that you value most will depend on your personal situation and characteristics, such as your age, health, family life, and career aspirations. 

Which career fields have the best benefits?

So which career fields, which industries, have the best benefits? Glassdoor Economic Research studied the question, reviewing more than 470,000 benefits reviews people posted on its website and looking at how satisfied those people were with their benefits. They looked at overall benefits and also zeroed in on maternity and paternity leave, 401(k) plans, and free lunch and snacks. The top industries for benefits turned out to be (in descending order):

  • Finance
  • Technology
  • Manufacturing

The finance and technology industries are generally growing, so they're continually looking to hire more people. Good benefits attract more workers -- and tend to retain many, too. While America was once a manufacturing titan, our economy has shifted to a great degree away from manufacturing and toward services. Still, a manufacturing sector remains, and a defining characteristic of it is that many manufacturing jobs are tied to unions, and unions bargain with managements for strong benefit packages.

Here, by the way, are the three industries cited as worst, overall, for benefits:

  • Restaurants, bars, and food services
  • Retail
  • Business services

The good news is that no matter which industry you're aiming to work in, you can find companies that offer good benefits -- even in retail, restaurants, and so on.

A dial labeled "benefits" with the needle pointing all the way to "maximum"

Image source: Getty Images.

Which companies offer the best benefits?

There are gobs of companies offering solid benefits packages, and you can look up most companies of interest at sites such as glassdoor.com and learn about benefits they offer, along with some sample salaries and reviews from current and past employees along with people who interviewed there. Glassdoor.com recently offered up a list of companies with stand-out benefits. Here are a handful of them:

Company

Overall Glassdoor.com Benefit Rating

Sample Benefit

Starbucks

4.3

"Starbucks provides full tuition reimbursement for its employees, covering an online bachelor's degree program through Arizona State University."

Microsoft

4.4

"Microsoft offers an annual $800 'StayFit' reimbursement program to help cover the cost of gym memberships and fitness programs."

Goldman Sachs

4.1

"Goldman offers coverage for gender reassignment surgery, a benefit the company has offered since 2008."

USAA

4.4

"USAA offers a strong 401(k_ program with an 8% matching policy." [The average U.S. company matches 6%.]

American Express

4.0

"AmEx's parental leave policy offers up to five months of fully paid leave for both mothers and fathers. Birthing mothers generally receive an additional six to eight weeks under salary continuation for medical leave."

Source: Glassdoor.com. 

You can also look up many companies' 401(k) plans at Brightscope.com, where they're rated on factors such as company generosity and fees. Its latest review of the best 401(k) plans included companies such as Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, ConocoPhillips, Amgen, Chevron, United Parcel Service, Pfizer, Allergan, and Google parent Alphabet.

A little Googling will turn up many other great companies to work for, with generous benefits and, often, generous compensation, too.

Job benefits are very important to most of us. Take some time to see how well your employer is serving you on that front -- and whether it makes any sense to consider moving to a company that can serve you better.

Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Teresa Kersten is an employee of LinkedIn and is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. LinkedIn is owned by Microsoft. Selena Maranjian owns shares of Allergan, Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), Amazon, American Express, Amgen, Microsoft, and Starbucks. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), Amazon, and Starbucks. The Motley Fool recommends American Express and Chevron. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.