September 1, 2011

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Article

HUMAN RESOURCES

Utah Business Staff

September 1, 2011

But it starts with the rhetoric, and we’ve got to educate our employees and say, “Hey, you might be told this by your elected officials, but here is the reality and here is what you need to start doing.” Less on the recommendation side and more on the—I wouldn’t say mandatory side, but you are going to be faced with some situations like this if you don’t start taking care of yourself now.

COTTERELL: I held a meeting about two months ago with all my employees, prompted in part because some had decreased their contributions to our 401(k), and I actually had one or two people who had a loan out against their 401(k). So I held a meeting about what retirement is like and what it’s going to cost. I think people are surprised when they actually do the research, if they want to maintain the standard of living they have now and what that will mean 20 or 30 or 40 years down the road, how much they need to be contributing—not just to a 401(k), but also if they have children that plan to go to school with 529s or other investments.

I don’t plan on Social Security and I encourage my employees to not bank on that as well. And I think George Bush may not sound as crazy as he did a few years ago about the privatization of Social Security. If you are going to be putting money in from your paycheck, you might as well have some control over it, instead of just funding other people’s retirements that we will never see. We’ve got to take control of it.

SUNDER: We do a lot of education, but the reality is that people are having really hard times. And if their spouse loses a job, it’s not about when I retire. It’s about, I don’t want to lose my house. It’s about, I want to put food on the table. So it is a great dream for a lot of people to be able to retire, but it’s just that right now.

Especially some of the younger people. I’ve got one kid who says, “I just finished my MBA and I spent $72,000 on it.” And he wants us to double his salary because he paid that much money for this MBA that he has no experience in—so kind of setting the tone for him to understand that your investment in your education is over your lifetime. It will and should pay back, but who-ever told you as soon as you finished your MBA you were going to be worth double what you make today was selling you a bill of goods. You are still doing the same job you did for me yesterday. I don’t pay for master’s degrees. I pay for contribution.

I hear people in my offices daily who are really, really struggling. They are trying really hard and it’s just the economy is killing them, and they don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel right now.

THOMAS: The currency in today’s economy is experience. A degree is important. We don’t overlook a degree, but experience is so much more important than that degree.

STONE: I teach part time at Westminster College in the MBA program, and I don’t mislead any people. But I think to get people to sign up, maybe sometimes they are a bit slack, but a lot of the students in the program are very stressed for a lot of the reasons you just said. They are focusing on today and taking care of their families, but yet they’ve been told that if they get a better education, they will position themselves for a better career. So it’s kind of a balance that you have to help people strike.

And you are right, an MBA or an advanced degree is a lot more valuable with some experience. I’m seeing a lot of young people coming into our workplace with a real lack of education and experience but with high expectations. So it’s managing all those things and trying to find some kind of a balance.

Are you seeing misuse of workers’ compensation payments and unemployment compensation?
JONES: We had a lot of unemployment claims with all the client companies that we work with. The state is being a little more lenient on allowing people to have unemployment, and we work pretty aggressively to keep them off. There’s a lot of people that really know the system and they are good at staying on unemployment. They don’t want to work if they don’t have to. It’s frustrating to see them get it and continue to work the system. I think there are a lot of people that truly qualify and are using it just as a way to get by, but there are a lot of people that are quite happy to be on it and do everything they can to stay on it.

MEILING: It’s certainly easier to get unemployment. There are people who we would have had no issues with—yet, they easily get it. But on the workers comp side—and I don’t know if it’s the culture of our company, but our highest claims are with our agricultural companies. And these guys will work with a broken back. I mean, they are on the opposite extreme, where we’re like, “No, really, you have to see a doctor.”

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