Bosses paying more to keep workers saneEmployers are...


September 18, 1992|By Kim Clark

Bosses paying more to keep workers sane

Employers are paying more for mental health insurance as a result of higher stress in the workplace and people's increased willingness to seek professional help for their problems.

A survey of 350 employers by the Wyatt Co., a Washington-based management consultant, found that mental health insurance is one of the fastest-growing components of employers' benefits bills.

The cost of mental health insurance has more than tripled in five years, reaching $245 per employee per year in 1991, up from $75 in 1986, said John Menefee, a Wyatt spokesman. And the employers surveyed predicted costs would keep rising.

The reasons for the increase in mental health claims range from increased stress to broader coverage and the reduction of the stigma associated with getting help, the study found.

Kim Sisk, benefits manager for Waverly Inc., the Baltimore-based publishing and printing company, said the cost of her company's mental health insurance more than tripled last year alone. Waverly, which is self-insured, found that 3.6 percent of its total health care claims were for mental health services, up from 1.1 percent last year.

Despite the increase, Ms. Sisk says her company is proud of last year's performance, because mental health costs are still below the average 10 percent of all insurance costs reported in Wyatt's survey.

"We are probably more generous than most," says Ms. Sisk, "and we're doing real well."

Pasta company foundto treat men better

An administrative law judge has ruled that a macaroni company in Western Maryland unlawfully segregated women into lower paying jobs.

Cumberland Macaroni Manufacturing Co. used to have men operating machines and doing the bulk packing, and women packing smaller lots of pasta. The men's jobs paid better than the women's, the administrative law judge found.

And when the company decided to lay off workers, it kept some men with low seniority over women with many more years of service, the judge found.

But after some of the women filed grievances, the company started to recall women into the higher-paying jobs and agreed to merge the male and female seniority lists.

The company's president, Edward Nevy, declined to comment.

Job-related costs eat half of 2nd paycheck

Families with two working parents gain surprisingly little from the second paycheck, but lower-income families gain the most, a study finds.

Issues in HR, a human resources trade letter, reports that working parents pay about half of the second paycheck for work-related costs such as day care, transportation and food away from home.

The study, by Sandra Hanson of Catholic University and Theodora Ooms of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, found that upper-income families spend 68 percent of the family's smaller paycheck on such costs.

Middle-income families gain more, spending only 56 percent of the second paycheck on the costs.

Lower-income families spent only 46 percent.

Polls find Americans are happy with work

Most Americans like their jobs, two new surveys suggest.

A Gallup Poll finds that 79 percent of Americans enjoy their jobs most or all of the time.

And a telephone survey by the Roper Organization finds that the more you earn, the more you tend to like your job.

The Roper survey found that four out of five people who earn $100,000 a year or more would choose the same job if they had to live their life all over again.

Two-thirds of the blue-collar workers interviewed would switch, however.

The Roper survey also found nearly one-third of all workers put in extra time on the weekends, with high earners spending the most extra time at work.

Layoffs hurt more if you're middle-aged

Layoffs are hardest on middle-age workers, one researcher discovered.

A study of laid-off steel and aerospace workers found that those who were lucky enough to find jobs earned less than half of their old pay.

Daniel Feldman, a professor at the University of South Carolina, said the workers he studied saw their wages drop, on average, from $16 to $6 an hour.

Hit hardest were those age 38 to 48, he said. Younger workers were more willing to move for a new job, and older workers could better afford to scale back their living expenses.

Part of the problem is the outplacement and training laid-off workers get, Dr. Feldman found. Standard outplacement services, which teach resume writing and interviewing skills, don't help blue-collar workers much.

And retraining programs didn't always start as soon as the workers needed them or finish before the workers ran out of unemployment benefits.

Some joint union-management retraining programs, such as those in the auto and steel industry, do seem to work, he said.

"We have evidence that people who go to these programs are more likely to get re-employed at higher wages," he said.

Dr. Feldman also found that the average job seeker got one call back for every 35 companies approached.

"You have to kiss a lot of frogs to get a prince," he concludes.

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