Streams

Bored at Work: Coping with Inflation

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Jennifer Merritt, Career Journal Editor at the Wall Street Journal, offers practical advice on how companies can cope with inflation.

A question for the Bored At Work Network:
What’s the smartest thing your company is doing to cope with inflation? And what’s the dumbest? See past comments HERE.

Guests:

Jennifer Merritt
News, weather, Radiolab, Brian Lehrer and more.
Get the best of WNYC in your inbox, every morning.

Comments [40]

Mike from Inwood

TeresaC states: "Companies should turn down the AC during the summer time. EVERY woman I know in my office wears sweaters at their desk! Some one even brought in a space heater."

I bet it is the WOMEN, who have a much more flexible dress code, who complain. Instead of carping about the AC, why not lobby for MEN not to have to wear ties and suits so the AC won't be necessary. Try wearing a shirt that's tight to the neck and a jacket and you'll be thanking your lucky stars for that AC.

And the woman who brought in the space heater should be FIRED!

Jul. 23 2008 12:38 PM
Mike from Inwood

hjs asks: "do men still wear ties to work?"

Many, and apparently they're the ones that get to make the call on the AC.

Jul. 23 2008 12:33 PM
hjs from 11211

do men still wear ties to work?

Jul. 23 2008 12:30 PM
Mike from Inwood

Shelley states: "I am sick of seeing all the vehicles idling their motors... busses at the end of their route idle for more than 5 minutes while the bus empties and then fills up again... Access A Ride vehicles waiting five minutes or more outside a building whhile people come for their trip... delivery trucks idling while driver runs in with macakages; first he must load onto his hand truck, access building, get elevator, etc... Companies and government DOT can change all this waste of fuel."

There is a $250 fine for idling more than 3 minutes in NYC. Let's comlain and have it enforced.

Jul. 23 2008 12:30 PM
Mike from Inwood

TeresaC states: "Companies should turn down the AC during the summer time. EVERY woman I know in my office wears sweaters at their desk! Some one even brought in a space heater."

I bet it is the WOMEN, who have a much more flexible dress code, who complain. Instead of carping about the AC, why not lobby for MEN not to have to wear ties and suits so the AC won't be necessary. Try wearing a shirt that's tight to the neck and a jacket and you'll be thanking your lucky stars for that AC.

Jul. 23 2008 12:29 PM
Mike from Inwood

AV states: "companies are not charitable organizations and niether are workers. workers are selling labor to the company and if the company makes the employee disgruntled then the employee will move on to another company."

No social contract? Good! And the owners export all their jobs to countries where the workforce is desperate. And then we'll tax them to death so that they will either be poor or they will leave, too. And let them live in countries where they must hire a small army of personal security to protect themselves from the disgruntled.

Jul. 23 2008 12:24 PM
tF from 10021

john Ghenossis

Angola?

Jul. 23 2008 12:01 PM
RosieNYC from NYC

To AV: Companies ARE charitable entities these days but not for middle-class lower employees. It is so for the upper-class management and executive groups and board of directors. As you and I are getting charged for coffee, many executives are getting exorbitant salaries and raises and ridiculous bonuses thanks to board of directors that have been sold the fallacy that those higher level employees need to be paid that much in order for them to do a better job. And they do get their pay-off even as they are fired for incompetency. Check out the salaries and bonuses of executives at Bear and Stearns, IndiMac, and every other failed corporation these last few years and you will see how "charitable" American corporations are these days to these individuals even though those people should not be running anything other than lemonade stands.

Jul. 23 2008 11:51 AM
Ralph Larkin from Manhattan

In your discussion of ways to cut costs, nobody mentioned the possibility of management involving workers in decisions about how to help. Yet all the literature on total quality management (TQM), smart companies, and effective management state that in a company, people should have input into decisions that affect their work. Research has shown that workers work harder, more efficiently, and have higher morale in companies that involved them in the decision-making process. Additionally, with worker input, companies function more effectively and efficiently. We have strayed so far from notions of equity, fairness, and democratic participation that inclusion of workers in decisions about cost-cutting was not even considered in the premise of this segment. For example, the caller who was named "Dave," brought his staff together, told them what he was doing and why he was doing it without even considering asking them for suggestions on how to cut costs. Because of the rightward drift of this country, we just assume that management should operate in a command and control mode rather than in a collaborative environment. You, Brian Lehrer, have fallen into the same assumptions. Maybe you should have a segment on how companies do or do not include workers in the decision-making process over factors that affect their work environment.

Jul. 23 2008 11:47 AM
Mike from Inwood

susan states: "Oh such wimps! When I was working as a teacher in the NY public school system, we always had to buy our own pens, pencils, coffee, soap for the restrooms(!) and paper. I also spent quite a bit on supplies for my students. I always envied my friends who worked in the business sector who didn't need to bring their own toilet paper to work."

I've always envied teachers with lots of time off, along with health insurance and a real income in retriement.

Jul. 23 2008 11:39 AM
Mike from Inwood

Dumb: I work for a large bank. All employees do not do thier banking with their employer. The employer used to let all employees use the companies ATMs, no matter where they banked, with no fee. They recently changed this. Now I walk 15 minutes to the nearest branch of my bank to save the $3. I usually eat lunch at my desk and don't take an hour break. My walking to my bank branch costs the company a half hour of my time that I'd otherwise be working. Penny wise and pound foolish, but it won't make a dent in management salaries and will probably earn a larger bonus for the person who decided to 'cut' the cost of free ATMs.

Jul. 23 2008 11:35 AM
chris o from New York City

26
yes he had a construction company, HAD being the key word here; posters make good points about that guy and his seemingly bad management practices in dealing with issues

Jul. 23 2008 11:34 AM
hjs from 11211

Steve (the other one)

ya, lawyers are bad businessmen
so much food is wasted among other things

Jul. 23 2008 11:34 AM
HarlemLady from Harlem New York

I think many times workers are looking at profit - co makes more profit gives less bonus employees are unhappy. When co lets go low paid employees but keeps high paid low employees are unhappy. When co has consultants and advisors but complain about pens and water employees are unhappy. A lot of middle america is wondering how much profit is enough. If your Co made a 20% profit last year and 25% this year, what change did you make for the employee?

Jul. 23 2008 11:31 AM
Steve (the other one) from Manhattan

Dave sounds like he treats him employees like children. Very common. Did anyone hear what industry he was in?

Jul. 23 2008 11:31 AM
AV from nyc

companies are not charitable organizations and niether are workers. workers are selling labor to the company and if the company makes the employee disgruntled then the employee will move on to another company.

Jul. 23 2008 11:30 AM
Steve (the other one) from Manhattan

@hjs - me too - we still have coffee, but one of the senior assoc's was warned about providing too much food at meetings. Still, the money seems to keep flowing.

Jul. 23 2008 11:30 AM
hjs from 11211

2 weeks before xmas no bonus thanks for the heads up. bad businessman and prick!

Jul. 23 2008 11:29 AM
susan from Yorktown Heights, NY

To Catfish:
It's just my jealousy speaking. I don't really believe that the other posters are wimps. I also had no desire to pay for basic tools to do my job. I just didn't have much of a choice while working in the NY public schools.

Jul. 23 2008 11:28 AM
O from Forest Hills

Dave the employer who called in should pay a living wage and give health insurance and maybe people will appreciate him.

Jul. 23 2008 11:28 AM
Hugh from Crown Heights

"The More You Give, The More They Take"

"A Business is not there to be nice to its employees"

And what if workers take that view. We're not there to be nice, we're there to make money. Screw the boss.

When people are constantly taking supplies or little breaks, etc., it is usually an indicator of bad management.

Treat workers like they are equals (contrary to what Mr. Lehrer and the caller advocates), people will generally respond in kind.

And of course, the leaders of the entitlement mentality are the executives.

Jul. 23 2008 11:27 AM
RosieNYC from NYC

Instead of cutting coffee or sodas, cut country club memberships, company provided cars and chauffeurs, Yankee stadium luxury boxes, company-paid yatchs, apartments, absurd bonuses and salaries for stupid CEOs, CIOs, CFOs and any other incompetent C.whatever.O running companies, banks, financial companies, etc into the ground thanks to their greed and stupidity.

Jul. 23 2008 11:26 AM
JJ from WaHI

My company: No More Food at Meetings.

Jul. 23 2008 11:24 AM
TeresaC from Manhattan

Companies should turn down the AC during the summer time. EVERY woman I know in my office wears sweaters at their desk! Some one even brought in a space heater.

Jul. 23 2008 11:24 AM
hjs from 11211

i work at a law firm and they still have lots of money to waste. i don't know what u people are talking about.

Jul. 23 2008 11:23 AM
Shelley from Queens

I am sick of seeing all the vehicles idling their motors... busses at the end of their route idle for more than 5 minutes while the bus empties and then fills up again... Access A Ride vehicles waiting five minutes or more outside a building whhile people come for their trip... delivery trucks idling while driver runs in with macakages; first he must load onto his hand truck, access building, get elevator, etc... Companies and government DOT can change all this waste of fuel.

Jul. 23 2008 11:22 AM
Catfish J. Rivers from Elizardbreff, NJ

To Susan: that is your choice to spend you earnings that way, it doesn't make others wimps. Good for you for being able to reroute some of your finances to do so, but not everyone can. Personally, I have no interest in paying for the basic tools to do my work unless I am freelancing.

Jul. 23 2008 11:20 AM
Mamma from Manhattan

My company manufactures telecommuning technologies for enterprises and small business, so I've worked from home for the last 8 years. That said, I don't have much visibility into what goes on in the office to reduce economize.

However, recently we were told that we couldn't use our corporate cards to buy office supplies, etc. We are now forced to go through our inter-office procurement office. This sucks for someone who works virtually and just needs to pop into Staples for some toner and pens.

Jul. 23 2008 11:19 AM
Anne from Midtown Manhattan

I love my company!

We have free ice cream on Wednesdays, every other Friday off in the summer, free supplies, free Blackberrys. Morale is great!

To save money, they cut back on Blackberry internet access, cut back on corporate card spending (most people don't have one so no big deal), and put a hold on all conferences we're allowed to attend.

I've worked at other companies that made employees pay for their own Blackberry (for company email), and never paid for a single conference -even when the economy was doing great. No wonder I don't work there any more!

Jul. 23 2008 11:18 AM
susan from Yorktown Heights, NY

Oh such wimps! When I was working as a teacher in the NY public school system, we always had to buy our own pens, pencils, coffee, soap for the restrooms(!) and paper. I also spent quite a bit on supplies for my students. I always envied my friends who worked in the business sector who didn't need to bring their own toilet paper to work.

Jul. 23 2008 11:16 AM
Hugh from Crown Heights

Somehow Europeans -- with higher fuel costs, high food costs, higher taxes -- still offer employees 2 or 3 times the vacation, better working conditions (yes, I have worked in the US and in Europe) and better benefits. And the states provide health care.

So it all comes down -- again -- to American executives trying to squeeze every last penny out of workers to boost profits and executive bonuses (even when the company loses money).

Jul. 23 2008 11:16 AM
anonymous

No more milk, coffee supplies are limited. No more office supplies. Need a pen, go buy your own. Forget scotch tape and staples. Citi never sleeps because we are looking for supplies. Oh yes, and fire the experts because they cost more!

Jul. 23 2008 11:16 AM
Catfish J. Rivers from Elizardbreff, NJ

I believe my employer takes delight in hording the pens. It brings out the McDuck in him.

Jul. 23 2008 11:15 AM
hjs from 11211

doesn't everybody 'steal' office supplies from work? so it's a good place to cut.

Jul. 23 2008 11:14 AM
O from Forest Hills

I like the "spud-ray" acronym too.

Jul. 23 2008 11:13 AM
anonymous from manhattan

i love spud-ray. don't listen to the spoilsports...

Jul. 23 2008 11:10 AM
O from Forest Hills

I am grateful for my job.

Jul. 23 2008 11:06 AM
Paul C. from Brooklyn

I work at a global pharmaceutical company with annual profits in the billions. They are now trying to save money on coffee.

This latest in a series of ill-advised cost-cutting measures is perhaps the least dumb: it has so little effect. Many of the other measures seem to me to have the effect of cutting the feet off a runner.

I noticed a month or so ago that the supply of little single-serving coffee packets we had was dwindling. The coffee wasn't being restocked. When it had gotten near completely gone, I called the catering service to report the issue. I was told that they were ordered to let the supply run out in anticipation of cutting the number of varieties of coffee. Employees complained, especially given that (a) no notice of the move was posted and (b) the particular strategy meant that no new coffee would be added until every packet of the least popular flavors (decaf hazelnut mint something or other) were gone. Only one day before my call, I was told, they received the order to abandon the cost reduction effort. We now have all the coffee varieties we did a few months ago, with everything fully stocked.

Dig the hole, fill the hole.

Jul. 23 2008 10:09 AM
$$$ from Washington DC

=( = NO MORE OVERTIME!!! Big change for law firm support staff.

=) = Green energy (energy efficient lightbulbs, regulated a/c - timed cutoffs, etc.) and recycled supplies!

Jul. 23 2008 09:21 AM
a woman from manhattan

One of the companies I work with has eliminated bottled water and placed a filter at their sink. I think this is excellent! Other, cheaper clients already had filters instead of bottles.

Since I am my own employer, I carry a flask, and fill it up at my clients' sinks. I also have started bringing lunch with me, as often as possible, though the heat is cramping that ambition lately. (I have to keep my lunch on me, having no office of my own).

But I'm quite amazed at how much I DON'T spend when I bring my own lunch and water with me.

Jul. 23 2008 07:41 AM

Leave a Comment

Register for your own account so you can vote on comments, save your favorites, and more. Learn more.
Please stay on topic, be civil, and be brief.
Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm your comments. Names are displayed with all comments. We reserve the right to edit any comments posted on this site. Please read the Comment Guidelines before posting. By leaving a comment, you agree to New York Public Radio's Privacy Policy and Terms Of Use.