Updated 11/06/2012 05:00 AM
Money Matters: Survey finds reduced benefits frequently chip away at workplace morale
If you feel like your paychecks are a little lighter lately, it's probably not your imagination, as a new study by the National Endowment for Financial Education has found that two-fifths of surveyed workers have had their benefits cuts during the recession. Tara Lynn Wagner filed the following report.
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Salary freezes are one thing, but combine that with a reduction in benefits, and many employees may actually be making less than they were a few years ago.
A survey by the National Endowment for Financial Education (http://smartaboutmoney.org) found that 4 in 10 people have had their benefits cuts during the recession.
"The most common cutback has been changing plans like a high deductible, so you're paying a much higher deductible amount for your family or individual coverage, freezing bonuses, eliminating them, cutting back on things like contributions to retirement plans," says National Endowment for Financial Education CEO Ted Beck.
Beck says this type of erosion is chipping away at workplace morale. About 53 percent of those polled said they are unhappy with their salary, benefits or hours, but are staying in their current job, at least for now.
"When the economy turns, how many of those people will decide it's time to move on and start looking for opportunities elsewhere? And we actually found that 1 in 5 were going to actively start looking for new positions as soon as the economy warranted it," says Beck.
Before one dusts off the resume, experts say there are ways to broach the delicate topic of benefits and compensation with a current employer.
Chairman and CEO Peter Handal of Dale Carnegie Training says for one thing, do the homework, and find out how the company is doing and how one's job is compensated elsewhere. Be prepared to communicate how much the position is worth.
"Really have your facts ready because if you know what the company wanted you to do and if you've done it, that's exactly the kind of message to communicate," says Handal.
Communication is also key for employers who wish to prevent a mass exodus. Even if the purse strings cannot be loosened, experts say it is vital to let workers know they are valued.
"There are non-monetary things a company can do. It might be an extra day off, it might be flex hours, it might be those kinds of intangible things that might make a difference for an employee," says Handal.
"Tell them they are very important to the organization, and long-term you really want to reward them as you have the opportunity, because the last thing you want is your best people walking out as soon as the economy gets better," Beck says.