When Government and Business Share Goals, Opportunity Knocks

By Dagenais, Bernard | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), February 16, 1998 | Go to article overview

When Government and Business Share Goals, Opportunity Knocks


Dagenais, Bernard, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Government is capitalizing on the shortage of workers as it pushes businesses to take a more active role in the lives of their employees.

It seems it's no longer enough to provide a job and a fair wage; now companies are being asked to provide child care, reduce traffic congestion and become more flexible about the hours they expect workers to put into their jobs.

The calls are coming from various quarters. President Clinton, in his Jan. 22 State of the Union address, called on Congress to create tax credits for companies that provide child care for their workers.

Montgomery County last month asked employers there to provide incentives to employees that would encourage them to use public transportation. And Republicans in Congress are pushing a plan that would give wage earners the option of taking time off instead of getting paid at a higher rate for overtime work.

Many businesses are not only willing to tackle these problems for employees when possible, but are embracing the opportunity to serve their workers in new ways.

"Employers are tripping over each other to provide these types of benefits," said Deanna Gelak, head of the government affairs division for the Society for Human Resource Management.

Nationally, the most recent figures put unemployment at 4.7 percent and locally at 3.1 percent for December - the lowest it's been in the region since May 1990.

Businesses are competing for the best employees and more generous benefits can reduce turnover, Miss Gelak said. Workers are more productive when they feel good about the company they work for, she added.

Linda Bennett, editor of the American Management Association's Compensation and Benefits Review journal, said some managers are using benefits to try and relieve some of the pressure they are getting to pay higher salaries. …

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