What Is the Difference Between Tangible & Intangible Benefits?

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A designer smiling while working at an office desk.
A designer smiling while working at an office desk. (Image: 4774344sean/iStock/Getty Images)

"Do what you love," often is the mantra of people seeking jobs that offer intangible benefits, while companies that use golden handcuffs retain employees who want the tangible benefit of high salaries and great benefits. When choosing where to work, people weigh tangible and intangible benefits. In some cases, a person may choose work she despises performing but stays because of the high tangible benefits. Other times, people forego million-dollar financial broker salaries to perform low-paying humanitarian work they love doing. The best of circumstances is choosing a job that offers attractive tangible and intangible benefits.

What's The Difference

Tangible benefits are quantifiable and measurable. They're used to weigh the value of a job. This value is almost always fiduciary. The value of the benefit depends on a person’s skill set. For instance, doctors get higher tangible benefits than a fast-food worker. On the other hand, intangible benefits are much harder to measure because of their subjectivity. Intangible benefits derive from how a person feels about their work. Job satisfaction is a main bench marker of an intangible benefit.

Tangible: Financial Pay and Benefits

Tangible benefits are those listed by the company in a quantifiable form. Such benefits usually are contractual items, such as paid time off, insurance costs, salary and profit sharing. Calculating the tangible benefits and comparing them to tangibles that another company offers is a straightforward measurement. When people first start looking for a job, they usually have a better idea of these tangible benefits than they do of the work’s intangible benefits. Steve Pogorzelski, author of the book, “Finding Keepers: The Monster Guide to Hiring and Holding the World’s Best Employees” also advises that corporations should tout tangible benefits such as gym partnerships to attract quality candidates.

Intangible: Job Satisfaction

Intangible benefits include all of the qualitative advantages of working for an organization. For instance, friendly coworkers, flexibility and a position that matches the worker’s skill set are intangible benefits. Johanna Schlegel, a human capital management expert and writer for a prominent job seekers' website, advises workers to assess how they feel about the work they performed at the end of the day. Measuring the degree of commitment and agreement with corporate culture are additional ways Schlegel recommends gauging the intangible benefits derived from the job.

Considerations

Some workers value tangible benefits over intangible benefits and vice versa. Decisions regarding employment typically depend on a worker’s situation. A father who wishes to stay at home with his children and telecommute places a premium on intangible benefits and may be willing to forego a higher salary. Another distinction of these two benefits is that intangible benefits may increase or decrease over time, whereas tangible benefits of a job may tend not to fluctuate as much. If a worker tires of performing the same task repeatedly and sees no sign of advancement, her intangible benefits decrease.

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