April 8, 2009
Are your employee benefits taking a bath this year?
If not, you're one of the lucky ones.
A CareerBuilder survey conducted in November 2008 found that 38 percent of companies anticipated making "administrative cuts" this year. Specifically, the 3,000 U.S. hiring managers and HR professionals polled placed company picnics, holiday parties, and business travel at the top of their to-nix lists for 2009.
Also on the chopping block: your health and well-being.
One in four employers surveyed said they expected to trim health care perks this year. Plus, another one in ten said they'd likely scale back on company wellness programs (gym memberships, exercise classes, and the like) in 2009.
Washington state is no exception to this unfortunate rule.
Last week the Associated Press reported that only 57 percent of employers in the state offered medical benefits in 2008, down from 66 percent in 2007. Likewise, dental coverage offered by employers in the state dropped to 37 percent last year, down from 47 percent in 2007.
But wait, there's more: The average health insurance premium that employees in Washington state paid in 2008 rose by 4 percent, to $358 a month.
Then there's the matter of sick leave, paid vacations, and retirement packages offered by employers in the state, all of which took equally painful hits in 2008. (If you insist on subjecting yourself to the numbers, they're here.)
If there is a bright side to look at, it's that many flexible work arrangements remain alive and well, presumably because they don't cost employers much and they help boost employee morale. According to CareerBuilder, 39 percent of U.S. employers say they're now offering employees more telecommuting privileges than in years past, as well as letting staff work alternate schedules to avoid the commute crunch.
But while skipping the morning commute might be beneficial for your blood pressure, it's won't pay for your annual physical or your monthly medical prescriptions. That's why I'd love to hear what you have to say: If your employer recently whittled down your health care, child care, retirement, or any other benefits you'd come to rely on, how are you coping? What, if anything, are you doing to pick up the slack?
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
Paul Anderson helps professionals in transition find their desired employment.
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