This evening I read about yet another large company, Cingular Wireless, discontinuing some basic perks for employees.
No more coffee.
No asprin to help with the caffeine withdrawal headaches.
And no more company paid-for snacks of any kind.
Total company-wide savings: Supposedly just over $1 million.
That seems like a lot until you compare it against the combined salaries of the executive officers.
$100 million, perhaps? Not unlikely.
At competitor Verizon, compensation for the CEO alone was over $9 million in 2000.
So here’s a radical thought. What if every executive earning over $100,000 at Cingular (and companies in similar predicaments) voluntarily contributed 1% of their salary to maintain “quality of life” perks at their respective companies?
Morale would soar, you’d have a lot fewer sleepy or headache’y employees, and overall, the quality of output would probably improve or at least not deteriorate.
Call it a “Worker Productivity Contribution” of sorts. And let’s face it… when folks are getting $9 million a year, is 1% off the top really going to affect THEIR lifestyles all that much?
Then again, even post-Enron it seems that most Americans just aren’t very concerned about these sort of things. Sure, every once in a while there’s a “Fat Cat CEO Thrives as Company X Lays Off 12,000” story which results in some mumblings and ineffective rumblings for a short time. But nothing really changes with our screwy American economic system, which continues to so blithely reward those executives who, well, screw over the most employees in the short run and investors in the long run.
The Invisible Hand is more like a pickpocket than a guide. Adam Smith must be rolling over in his grave.