Today's employees have smartphones at the top of their priority lists, a recent study suggests.

Mobile device management software provider Sybase surveyed more than 500 U.S. and U.K. employees, 50 percent of whom said they would rather choose a smartphone for work rather than be given a device their employer selected. Another 59 percent who have used their own smartphone for work said employee choice is more effective than company-owned devices.

A surprising 71 percent said they would give up one other benefit in the workplace, such as free coffee, office supplies or even a vacation day, if it meant they could choose the smartphone they use for work.

"Employees are beginning to have a much greater understanding of mobility, resulting in greater expectations from IT," said Dan Ortega, senior director of product marketing at Sybase. "We're seeing more demand for mobile-focused methods of productivity, such as being able to use a variety of devices in the workplace, or being able to gain access to corporate applications through an app store environment."

Those buying smartphones for work purposes may be more prone to invest in mobile phone cases to protect their investment and, in the event their phone is dropped or damaged, ensure their work performance doesn't suffer.