Posted by: euzoia | February 26, 2009

economy crisis in australia?

Coffee, mobiles, cars go as perks pruned | Todays News Highlights | News.com.au

Coffee, mobiles, cars go as perks pruned

By Caitlin O’Toole

NEWS.com.au

February 25, 2009 10:42am

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o What are these?

* Companys cutting benefits to trim costs
* Lunches, parking spaces, education out
* Employers risk worker backlash
* Survey: Tell us about Business Sense

EMBATTLED workers who have so far escaped the axe shouldn’t relax – their perks could be the next thing to go.

Company cars, child care, holidays – even the free coffee in the kitchen – are under fire as businesses cut costs, experts say.

One company has asked workers to pay for their parking spots. Another has started carefully combing through mobile phone accounts and company credit cards instead of just paying them off.

At other workplaces, the fruit box has disappeared. One bank has put out instructions that lavish client lunches are out, while another has cut restaurant meals for late-working investment bankers to takeaways only.

Interactive YOUR SAY: Is your employer cutting back? Tell us below.

News.com.au’s Cube Farmer blogger Kate Southam say evidence of perk-pruning is everywhere – and in some cases, workers are stepping in with the most basic of workplace items.
Related Coverage

* Rio Tinto to Kevin Rudd: jobs in dangerNEWS.com.au, 18 Feb 2009
* ‘Think first before firing’Courier Mail, 8 Feb 2009
* Reader’s Comments: Pay rise ban as crisis ‘beggars belief’NEWS.com.au,
* Reader’s Comments: Readers rise against Rudd’s pay adviceNEWS.com.au,
* Reader’s Comments: Hold off pay claims, Rudd pleads – The Daily TelegraphDaily Telegraph,

“The most bizarre I’ve heard is employees being asked to bring in their own cleaning products, dishwashing liquid and toilet paper,” she said.

“Thankfully, they were not asked to actually clean the toilets.

“The troops have been bringing in the coffee, tea and milk for a while.”

Managing director of HR consultants The Human Resources Centre Katherine Graham says many clients are cutting back benefits staffers usually take for granted when conditions aren’t so bad, or perks that attracted workers in boom times.

Training and development programs and help with education costs are often first to go.

“Holidays are the other one,” she says.

“A lot of companies have some sort of rewards and recognition program around long tenure or packages around families, where they would send them on holiday.”

Now, they’d be sent somewhere cheap and close by, at best.

But bosses who cut perks must honest if they are in dire financial straits, or risk a backlash from disgruntled workers, say human resource experts.

In boom times, companies tempted workers with benefits and competed to be ’employer of choice.’ Now, they want to cut costs and believe they have the pick of top talent.

Ms Graham is helping two companies trim their benefits, but says cutting perks risks driving away top performers, who will always have other options.

“So that is the risk. But money talks and the bottom line is something they have to look at,” she says.

The best bosses will give workers a choice of which benefits stay. Employees are often keen to keep health insurance, while flex time gets cut.

“People might relinquish some of their working from home activities, or move back from a fairly flexible working week. Those are all being reduced.”

Adrian Finlayson, head of Accumulate Employee Incentives says in depressing economic times, companies should be boosting benefits instead of cutting them.

Cutting holidays, perks or rewards for top performers hurts morale and can cost more in lost productivity.

“Even if employees can’t leave, they will just be coming into the office and going through the motions. They will disengage,” he says.

“Especially in the current environment, when employees are getting de motivated, they are hearing bad news every day, or their mates are getting fired, rewards can get them engaged and get them involved in the business,” says Mr Finlayson.


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