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Benefits offer edge in retaining staff

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by Karen E. Culp

SBJ Staff

Does the job come with any benefits? More than likely. Most employers are finding good benefits packages an advantage in retaining quality employees.

First Card's benefits include medical, dental, life insurance, 401(k), life insurance, an employee stock purchase plan, pension the usual round of desired benefits, said Patricia Laxton, manager of the Springfield center and first vice president for First Card.

In addition to those perks, the company offers free checking through its affiliated bank and will also have a nurse on site once the facility reaches 500 employees. An on-premises day care will be added during phase II of First Card's development.

"We want to be Springfield's employer of choice. Ideally, when people inquire about jobs in the Springfield area, we want our name to be at the top of the list," Laxton said.

Other benefits managers agreed that employee benefits can lead to the retention of good employees. Bill Fashing, vice president for economic development for the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, said First Card's benefits package may lead to raising the level of benefits packages throughout the city.

Right now, however, St. John's Health Systems, one of Springfield's largest employers, has a comparable benefit package to that offered by First Card.

"We are constantly looking at what our employees need. We try to continue to improve what we offer," said Sybil Ryan, benefits manager at St. John's.

The addition of weekend day-care services was the result of a recent employee request, for example, Ryan said.

The hospital is also always looking at what other employers are offering their employees, Ryan said.

"We do need to know what else is out there. We participate in salary surveys with other companies. We try to keep up in the market," Ryan said.

Ryan added that large employers in Springfield are definitely going to be aware of what First Card its offering its employees.

"You have to always stay alert," she said.

Blake Culley, benefits specialist at Cox, agreed that the marketplace is competitive for good employees and that the hospital is "always evaluating where we stand."

City Utilities' director of employee relations, Lisa Turner, said the utility has not made major changes to its benefits plan, except for switching its health insurance to a point-of-service plan, but it has always had benefits that were fair to its employees.

"We have always prided ourselves on having good benefits that are fair and marketable. We have not had any trouble attracting quality people despite the tight labor market," Turner said.

David Knight, economic development coordinator for the city, said there is a level of underemployment in the city, and those who are underemployed are often not receiving good benefits.

"First Card has definitely got the understanding that to attract and retain good employees, you've got to be offering incentives such as child care and other benefits," Knight said.

INSET CAPTION:

First Card's benefits package may lead to raising the level of benefits packages throughout the city.

Bill Fashing

Springfield Area

Chamber of Commerce[[In-content Ad]]

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