A survey released recently by Deloitte & Touche LLP found 60 percent of women business leaders believe that reducing compensation packages for senior executives is required to restore the public’s faith in corporate leadership and financial reporting. The survey polled women CEOs, chairmen, presidents and other senior executives attending The Corporate State, a summit for women in senior management positions. Other remedies suggested to restore the public’s confidence were: more transparency in the disclosure of financial information (52 percent), increased independence of boards of directors (34 percent) and expensing of the value of stock options on financial statements (31 percent). Encouragingly, 73 percent of the female executives said they do not feel obligated to engage in “bad” business behavior to advance in their careers, suggesting they haven’t had to sacrifice their professional integrity to get where they are today. However, 63 percent of respondents named the attitudes of male executives as the single greatest obstacle to the advancement of women into senior leadership positions. The survey also exposed the fact that we still have a long way to go to restore the faith of the investing public. One of the most important aspects of restoring that faith is to regain the trust and confidence of shareholders. Only 58 percent of these corporate leaders felt their companies put the interests of shareholders first, above the interests of the companies themselves.
New Year’s Health Suggestions
With employers and employees putting in long days on the job, it’s important to take steps to ensure their health remains in good condition. Rainbow Medical Centers in Las Vegas offers the following tips to stay healthy in the workplace.
Refocus Eyes – At least twice per hour, refocus your eyes on a distant target or out of a window if available. This can reduce eye strain and/or headaches.
Stay Aligned – Keep your computer monitor directly in front of your keyboard (preferably slightly below eye level). This keeps your neck in proper alignment and can help minimize neck pain.
Keyboard Position – Keep your keyboard further back on your workstation so that your forearms are properly supported. Having your keyboard lower than your elbows is optimal.
Stretching – At least once per hour, take a couple of minutes to stretch with slow, deep breaths. This relaxes your muscles, improves alertness and reduces stress.
Be Active – Before or after a work day, remember to be active. Physical activity need not be strenuous exercise. Housework, yardwork or fun activities like hiking, biking or swimming can help keep you fit.
Eat Well – Moderate fat intake, and avoid refined sugars, save treats for special occasions. Start eating one piece of fruit and one vegetable each day, building up to five per day.
Stop Smoking – Within 24 hours of your last cigarette, blood pressure and heart rate are back to normal, carbon monoxide levels drop while oxygen levels increase.
Drink Water – Try to stay away from soda and coffee, and drink plenty of water. Seventy-five percent of the body is made up of water, and all bodily functions and activities require water for optimal performance.
Economic Uncertainty Takes Its Toll
Ongoing economic uncertainty took its toll on workers throughout North America in 2002 as a vast majority of companies reduced salary increases, eliminated jobs or put hiring moratoriums in place, according to a survey of 431 companies conducted by Watson Wyatt Worldwide.
“During the past year, the lingering effects of the economic recession forced companies to make hard decisions about their human capital investments as they worked to contain costs and maintain competitiveness,” said Eric Brash of Watson Wyatt. Companies surveyed expected merit increase budgets to rebound to 3.8 percent in 2003 from 3.4 percent in 2002.
According to the survey, 82 percent of the companies surveyed implemented at least one of the following cost reduction measures during 2002:
Cost Reduction Measure Implemented in 2002
Percent of Companies
|Reduced salary increase budgets||46%|
|Froze/greatly reduced hiring||46%|
|Increased employee contributions for benefits||38%|
|Eliminated/severely cut bonuses||21%|
Top-performing employees, meanwhile, cited dissatisfaction with pay as the number one reason they leave their companies, followed by dissatisfaction with management and lack of promotion opportunities. If their company faced financial difficulties and needed to cut costs, only two percent of top-performing employees said companies should first cut their benefits or reduce their salaries/bonuses, while 47 percent would prefer to lose their stock-based rewards first.
Pet Insurance Emerges As Work Perk
Healthcare benefits aren’t just for humans anymore. Pet insurance is appearing on a growing number of company benefit plans across the nation, according to Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI), the nation’s largest pet protector. Jack Stephens, DVM, founder and CEO of VPI, points out that this trend mirrors an overall increase in pet owners turning to third-party payment options in an attempt to keep pace with the rise in sophistication and cost of veterinary care.
VPI, which provides more than 80 percent of the nation’s pet insurance policies, has experienced a 125 percent increase in the number of groups participating in its voluntary employee benefits program during the past year. The more than 400 companies offering VPI policies through various benefits packages range from large corporations, such as eBay and Miller Brewing Company, to regional companies and associations.
“The growth of pet insurance as an employee benefit follows the expanding number of people carrying pet insurance,” said Stephens. “Nearly 300,000 pet owners already carry pet insurance policies. Within five years that number is estimated to increase to more than 2.5 million. We can expect a large portion of that growth to come from employee benefit programs.”
A 2001 MetLife employee benefits trends survey of 500 benefits and compensation professionals found that three percent of companies currently offer pet insurance as a voluntary employee benefit. MetLife indicated that this percentage was expected to double within 18 months.
Testimonials an Important Tool
Want to flatter current customers while getting new ones? Ben Gay III, a nationally known sales trainer and public speaker, recommends asking for written testimonials. Happy customers are usually willing to give them, said Gay – you just have to ask – and he points out an additional benefit: “In addition to being a strong selling tool with new customers, the act of writing a testimonial tends to ‘lock in’ the customer who writes it. If a customer writes, ‘My new Lincoln is the best car in the history of mankind!’ she will be very hesitant to buy a Cadillac next time.” She has committed herself to her original choice. Gay suggests this is such a powerful psychological tool that businesses should