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This summer offer employees more benefits not less

Friday, June 20, 2008
Today an article from U.S. News & World Report discussed how companies continue to cut benefits and ask workers to shoulder more of the cost. Companies all across the country are looking for ways to trim costs yet keep up worker spirit. Serious cut backs include medical benefits and employer-funded retirement plans. Workers are being asked to pay more out of their own pockets, often for less in benefits.

Rumor has it that a company local to us in New Hampshire allegedly flew up its corporate executives and kept employees late in order to tell them that their benefits were being cut. They took away all vacation, health insurance and 401K benefits until further notice. What a great morale booster.

Like many other progressive companies, my company Bisson Barcelona, an image management and PR firm located in New Hampshire is offering its employees a four-day work week for the summer. The transition will allow employees to save on fuel costs, the company will save on energy costs and best of all, employees will have more time to spend with family and friends. In addition, employees make their own schedule for the four-day work week. They have the flexibility to adjust their schedule as needed in order to finish their work. This may be 40 hours or less depending on the week's work load. One employee also incorporates her daily workout schedule into the new company hours. Bisson Barcelona employees are more relaxed, creative and dedicated to the company and its clients.

In addition, we recently increased our health insurance benefits and holiday time off to thank employees for their hard work. We also have a Star Reward Program where employees can earn gas cards, sleep in late coupons, scratch tickets and other prizes for exhibiting team spirit.

I encourage owners and managers of companies to get creative with their benefit offering during these difficult times. Don't cut back, find a way to give employees more (in a different way) even if it is something small. Inspire and reward them. Don't make them depressed and stressed, and resent the company they work for.

Imagine if you cut your kids "benefits" at home: no trips to the amusement park, water park, zoo or other tourist attraction; cut their allowance but asked them to do more chores around the house and left them at daycare longer spending less time with family. My employees are like family and I would not treat my family this way.

Disgruntled employees will talk and spread their dissatisfaction like a disease. This will affect future recruitment options. Don't let this happen to you. Reward your employees like you would reward your kids for a job well done. Benefits don't need to cost a lot of money, they just need to be creative and thoughtful.

Are you a progressive company looking for ways to reward your employees in these difficult times? Share your ideas and solutions with us for others to benefit from.