Wednesday, March 18, 2009

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.


At 3/18/2009 10:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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.

I wish I could share your optimism. Unfortunately, I think that the major impediments to long term growth put in place by Obama and the Democrats - incredible debt, higher taxes, increased energy costs, socialized health care, increased welfare - will keep economic growth and activity sub-par for decades. Entitlement programs like Social Security, which the Democrats have fought against reforming, will consume a greater share of an ever growing federal budget. Government borrowing to service the welfare state will crowd out private investment. We will be spending more on interest payments, associated with Obama's reckless spending, than we currently spend on the military.

The youth of America have made their bed with their support for the Democrats. They wanted change, they got it, and they will be paying for it all of their working lives through lower wages, higher taxes and reduced opportunity. They'll pass it on as a legacy to their children and their grandchildren. After witnessing their unquestioning, cult-like adoration for Obama, I find it very hard to feel sorry for them. Can they squander the greatest inheritance in the history of man? Yes they can.

At 3/18/2009 11:15 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Unfortunately, I completely agree with Anonymous @10:10 am.

At 3/18/2009 2:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

White House Admits Cap-And-Trade Tax Costs Triple Their Official Estimate

The deputy director of the White House National Economic Council, Jason Furman, is giving us a glimpse at the real number, telling Senate staff the energy tax scheme would actually raise “two-to-three times” the budget’s official $646 billion revenue estimate. Dow Jones reports that 5 people at the meeting confirmed the statement—we can be pretty sure he said it.

If Furman is right that the real tax hike would be two or three times the official budget estimate—and it’s likely still a lowball—that would mean the actual tax hike would run well into the trillions, roughly between $1.3 trillion and $1.9 trillion between fiscal years 2012 and 2019 by Furman’s own estimate.

The White House claims that this massive gusher of new tax revenue would be dedicated to tax relief, but judging by the budget that’s just a PR gimmick. More than 42 percent of the “tax cuts” in the Obama budget—according to its own official estimates—go to people who don’t pay taxes. Call it a handout; call it a welfare check; call it social spending; don’t call it a tax cut, though, because it means the burden of the federal government on people who actually work, save, invest, and build wealth will be higher than ever before.

Remember that these staggering costs of $1.3 to $1.9 trillion are for just the first 8 years of a 40 year program that gets much more expensive over time. This would be the final knock-out blow for a wobbly U.S. economy, and we can only hope that as people learn the facts they’ll oppose it strongly enough to force Congress and the White House back to the drawing board.

Phil Kerpen is policy director for Americans for Prosperity."

At 3/18/2009 4:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with anon 10:10. Essentially, the citizenry, to a large extent, is fearful, envious and petty and therefore relies on government. Couple that with the environmental whackos, proliferation of illegals, and the dedicated marxists it is difficult to be optimistic.

The solution to me is a constitutional convention. This would highlight the major differences among us because representatives could speak more freely without the rules and "buddy" system inherent in congress. The result would be the formation of a better and more limited national government.

One person's opinion.

At 3/18/2009 8:08 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Also, inflation is a tax on everyone. Moreover, Obama using the AIG bonuses to stir up class warfare, or promote hatred towards the rich and big business, is not really helpful to society.

At 3/19/2009 6:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I seem to recall that in-kind benefits are economically inefficient, so why is that a good thing? THese benefits also seem to be the kind of "anchors" that create labor market friction nd reduce market mobility-again, not a good thing.


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