Perking Up: Firms Offering Surprising New Benefits
Here's some news you don't read very often these days: Employers are fattening up perks and benefits for the little guy. What?
Seriously. I'm not talking about outrageous bonuses for financial highfliers at American International Group. Instead, even as the downturn has deepened in recent months, companies including Intel, Discovery Communications, Brown-Forman, USAA, Yum! Brands and Cardinal Health have unveiled such new benefits for the rank and file as child-care centers, backup child care, scholarships for employees' kids, concierge services, adoption benefits and expanded health care.
"Your knee-jerk reaction is, 'Why in the world would you add something like this now?' " says Carol Sladek, a principal at consulting firm Hewitt Associates. The answer lies in these companies' unusually long-term view and in the refreshing note of optimism that underlies it. Employers' staffs are already lean, the thinking goes. Eventually the economy will rebound. If companies lose more workers, they fear being too understaffed to cash in when that day comes.
That's a real risk: A study cited last year in Harvard Business Review said even a small layoff shocks and demoralizes survivors so much that many walk out the door at the first opportunity, raising voluntary quit rates an average 31% above previous levels.
To ease the stress and hang on to talent they want to keep, these employers are launching "programs that help employees balance their lives, and that don't have a huge price tag" relative to other corporate costs, says Ms. Sladek.
MP: After going through the "economic rehab" of the current recession, the U.S. economy will emerge stronger, more efficient, more productive, and generally improved overall.