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Answering Tough Questions

A suggested response to employees who aren't happy about health care cost shifting.

September 18, 2003
Related Topics: Benefit Design and Communication, Compensation
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Wwhen delivering tough benefit news, executives should be prepared to answertough questions from employees, such as: How can executives take home millionsof dollars every year and still feel good about asking lower-paid workers to paymore for health benefits?

Dennis Ackley, a senior communication consultant at Benefit Partners, Inc.,in Dallas, suggests the following general response:

Every employee makes a contribution to the success of the organization, andthe value of that contribution is reflected in the pay that person receives. Thejob of leading a large company has a high market value because there aren’t alot of people who have the skills and experience required.

Despite the high compensation of some executives, if those employees are notgiving the organization the value that is reflected in their pay, theirbosses will do the same thing every boss does when an employee is not doing theexpected job.

Yes, many of our executives do earn a high level of compensation, but ourcompany spends money on many things we believe will help us become a betterorganization: new facilities, better computers, and additional research. Becausewe have many costs that must be covered, when costs rise in one area, such ashealth care, we have to look at it in light of all our other costs and decide how to bestbalance competing priorities.

Our goal has always been to offer employees a solid benefit program. At thistime, the best way for us to do that, and manage our other cost increases andchallenges, is to ask employees to contribute more to their health-carecoverage.

Workforce, September 2002, p. 36 -- Subscribe Now!

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