Companies that Treat Workers Right Get Good Karma Right Back


KarmaWhat's the secret to good worker attendance, retention, productivity, and the ability to attract top-notch recruits? Employee benefits.

Which companies thrive and grow their businesses faster than their peers? Same answer: Those that offer better benefits to their workers.

That's the takeaway from a survey of businesses last year, conducted by insurance specialist AFLAC (AFL). It found that companies reporting rising sales are more likely to offer a host of employee benefits, such as major medical coverage (85%, vs. only 74% of companies with shrinking sales), life insurance (75% vs. 57%), 401(k) plans (81% vs. 62%), and flexible work options (36% vs. 28%). Some 66% of workers at the growing companies felt that their benefits package met employee needs well, vs. just 52% at companies with falling sales.

The Benefits of Benefits

Some executives may see benefits as purely a cost to their companies, but smart leaders realize that money spent on employee benefits can be well worth it. For example:

  • Good health care coverage can keep workers in better shape, and thus able to spend more time on their work.
  • Strong overall benefits packages have been linked to increased employee loyalty and retention.
  • Great benefits attract more prospective employees, giving the company a richer pool of talent to draw from.
  • The AFLAC survey also found that employees are more likely to refer friends to the company when benefits are strong.

Would You Trade Your Benefits for 20 Grand?

Don't just take AFLAC's word for it. A 2011 Sanofi (SNY) Healthcare Survey found that when nearly 1,600 workers with benefits packages were asked whether they'd rather have their coverage, or get a check for $10,000, 59% chose the benefits.

When offered $20,000 instead, 48% still wanted their benefits. Nearly half of the respondents noted that they take at least one medication regularly (such as for high blood pressure or diabetes), leading them to value their coverage highly.

Of course, not all employees have a choice about benefits, especially when many firms have been shrinking their offerings lately, including asking employees to pay more of their health-insurance premiums to offset long-skyrocketing costs.

Companies That Offer Botox, Tanning Beds and Auto Tune-Ups at Work

Unusual employee perks garner lots of press. According to CNN Money, online shoe giant, now part of (AMZN), offers a free life coach. Cisco Systems (CSCO) provides automotive tune-ups. Chesapeake Energy (CHK) employees enjoy on-site Botox injections and tanning beds, while Morningstar (MORN) employees are eligible for generous sabbaticals.
However, the most important benefits for most of us are health insurance and retirement plans. Standout companies for the former include Qualcomm (QCOM), Microsoft (MSFT), and Whole Foods Market (WFM). Among CNN Money's top 100 companies to work for, they're three of only 14 that pay 100% of their employees' health insurance premiums.

For the scoop on retirement benefits, lets you look up most major companies' retirement plans, and see how they compare to their peers. Xerox (XRX), for example, sports an overall rating of 73, vs. 85 for Cisco and 87 for IBM (IBM). Xerox's Achilles' heel is its below-average score in company generosity, but it gets top marks for plan costs and account balances. IBM matches 100% of employee contributions to 401(k) plans, up to 5% of salary, and adds an extra 1%.

If these surveys are any indication, CEOs who want to boost their bottom lines should make beefing up benefits their first priority.

Longtime Motley Fool contributor Selena Maranjian owns shares of QUALCOMM, Chesapeake Energy, and Microsoft, but she holds no other position in any company mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of IBM, Morningstar, Whole Foods Market, Microsoft, Cisco, and QUALCOMM, as well as having created a bull call spread position on Cisco. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Cisco,, Microsoft, Chesapeake Energy, Morningstar, and Whole Foods, as well as creating a bull call spread position in Microsoft.

Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

What is Short Selling?

Make a profit when stocks prices fall.

View Course »

Introduction to Preferred Shares

Learn the difference between preferred and common shares.

View Course »

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum


Filter by:

Of course WAL-MART will never treat its Empolyees like QUALCOMM . Look who is workimg there ? One could think this is a Third-World Company in a Third World Country ............... WAL-MART that is . Most Employees do NOT speak english and that is only a start ! I bet only few People in China speak Spanish ,yes ? Al thou WAL-MART sells mostly CHINA JUNK !.

August 25 2011 at 2:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

On-site tanning (listed as a benefit from Chesapeake energy) is harmful, unless only spray-on tanning is used. All tanning, including artificial and direct sunlight, has been scientifically proven to cause permanent damage to DNA. I cannot see how this benefits the employee or employer, the latter of which will incur expenses to treat future skin cancer.

August 25 2011 at 2:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

duh! that's the way is used to be. how did we get so OFF?

August 25 2011 at 8:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"Xerox's Achilles' heel is its below-average score in company generosity, but it gets top marks for plan costs and account balances." --See full article from DailyFinance:


1. Has Xerox produced any RELIABLE & VALID concrete evidence that ANY of Xerox's lifelong employees ever ACTUALLY received the full value of their retirement benefits upon nearing retirement qualifying period without undue prejudice, hardship, malice, pre-retirement demotion(s), manipulatively-calculated forced resignations and/or unwarranted loss of position?
2. If so, how many?
3. How many have not?

After decades of our highly profitable, trusting, loyal and hardworking service -- we learned the truth about Xerox ... but by that time, it was too late. Don't let what happened to us, happen to you.

If you work, or are considering work for Xerox, get PROVEN answers to the above three questions.
Assess the degree of probability you will ACTUALLY receive retirement benefits AS YOU UNDERSTAND THEM.
Interview those who have retired before you. Ask them how they were treated ... then ask their family members.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

August 25 2011 at 6:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

1) Management Incentive Plan: If you work real hard and do a real good job, you get to keep it.

2) Employee Motivation Plan: The beatings will continue until morale improves.

August 25 2011 at 1:37 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

did huff buy out this bunch too!

August 24 2011 at 7:42 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply