It seems as though all the talk in the human resources and employee benefits world today is about how employers are trying to "get out of the benefits business." The combination of the 2008 recession coupled with the passage of the Affordable Care Act stagnated employee compensation and began to erode employee benefits packages -- all in the name of cutting back on expenses and improving corporate profitability.
Then, on January 2, 2015, Bobby Fry, one of the owners of Bar Marco, in Pittsburgh, PA, tweeted that the restaurant would stop accepting gratuities from its patrons and, starting in April, move its 20 full-time employees to a $35,000 base salary and provide full health coverage, vacation days and private shares. The Internet exploded with interest.
About two weeks later, Hartford, CT-based Aetna announced it would raise it's minimum wage to $16/hour -- begining in April 2015. The company will also give approximately 7,000 employees access to health benefits next year that should lower their out-of-pocket costs by up to $4,000.
Economists Jan Zilinsky and Justin Wolfers released a paper coincident with the Aetna annoucement that reviewed the question: Under what circumstances can raising the pay of low-skilled workers at large corporations lead to general improvements in productivity?
Both Jan Zilinsky and Bobby Fry join Carol Harnett this month to discuss the reasoning behind and impact of higher wages and better benefits on the workplace.