Answering Tough Questions

 The last several posts have been on the subject of answering tough questions as a leader. Here is number 8 in this series.

Question:  What are some innovative ways to retain quality employees with the increased medical costs, increased insurance contributions, and sometimes decreased benefits?  With some people, the additional costs of insurance and inflation are greater than the annual merit increase.


This question is one that you will hear throughout your career for sure.  Inflation is real, but it is also misleading sometimes.  Inflation depends a lot on individual circumstances.


Managing one’s personal finances is something that everyone needs to pay a lot of attention to.  For one thing, I suggest that you keep very close track of every penny you spend . . . so you know exactly where your money is going.  This is the best way to figure out where you can spend less when you have to spend more somewhere else.


You mention health-care costs rising and insurance contributions rising, but there are many things during the last few years that have not been rising very much, if at all.


If you own your home and have a fixed mortgage, then you have had no inflation increases.  Most places have a fixed amount to which they can raise real estate taxes, and that is in the 3 percent range, if they raise them at all. Actually real overall inflation has been in the 2 percent range for some period of time, while increases were in the 3 to 4.0 percent for some years.  So for a few years you were actually getting ahead.


I personally keep track of every penny we spend, and I review it at the end of each month and annually to see where we can cut back or adjust some things we buy.


I do a lot of price comparisons to decide where to buy food and household products and see where I can save money by buying in bulk. One morning I made a list of the top 30 things we use at home and went to Costco, Walmart, and Publixs, and did comparison pricing. I now schedule trips to different stores to buy what is cheapest in bulk.

 This does not relate totally to the question, and here is my answer to that.  The best way to retain quality employees  is to create an environment where they are respected, involved, listened to, treated as individuals, made to feel special, and developed. When a healthy environment is created for individuals, they will not leave so easily. 

 The very best way to retain people is to make sure that there is opportunity for those who want it.  This is one thing that we had at the Walt Disney World® Resort, more than any other group in the Central Florida area, or nationwide for that matter.  We have a rich history of providing our Cast Members with the opportunity to improve themselves and to be promoted to higher-paying positions. Even if they leave the company they always have a higher chance of getting a better job because they worked for Disney and have that on their resume.

We had the Disney Learning Centers, tuition reimbursement, career fairs, leadership Casting Call, many, many courses offered through The Disney University, in addition to on-the-job training, language classes, and on and on.

 As far as the cost of health insurance and medical care, I am afraid that this is a long-term problem and one that each and every one of us will have to deal with.  The good thing right now is that Disney health-care premiums are very fair compared to the market here in Central Florida.  Ask your family and friends what they are paying and what kind of coverage they have, and you will see that Disney’s is still a really good deal.

Since I retired I now pay $18,000 a year for health care coverage for Priscilla and me.

 At the end of the day, people stay where they are happy and feel that someone cares about them.  The most important person who can do this is YOU, their leader.  You can be good at this . . . or you can be great at it . . . and I assure you that there is a big difference between good and great!   When your team members point out what they don’t have, you point out to them what they do have. Opportunity is the best benefit there is in life.


PS:  I used to get a bagel and coffee every morning at Einstein’s.  Then I started eating their yogurt with fruit in it.  This cost $2.99, plus $1.05 for the coffee.  After a while I learned what kind of yogurt they used, and I went off to the store and bought frozen blueberries, frozen peaches, frozen raspberries, Dannon® Vanilla low-fat yogurt, nonfat granola, and started making my own.  On Sunday night I make five of these in coffee cups and put them in the refrigerator and have one each morning at a cost of 50 cents each.  I still go to Einstein’s for my coffee as I enjoy the social interaction early in the morning.  I now save $650 a year by making my own breakfast versus eating out.  Eating out is expensive and often not good for your health, especially when so many meals are taken away from home.


For lunch I try to limit myself to $3 by not ordering the side orders of things or getting a cookie.  You can even bring your lunch if you really want to save some money to fight inflation and put that money toward your health-care plan.


By the way, I received something extra when I quit eating a bagel every morning.  My health got better, so hopefully my medical expenses will be limited to the premium only and annual checkups.  Being fit and watching your diet can help reduce your medical costs dramatically by the way.  Exercising can help with many ailments, and often you can stop taking some medications when you get yourself into better physical condition. 


Good luck fighting inflation, and good luck with your health    . . . and for goodness’ sake, never  SUPER SIZE anything or eat too often at places that have drive-thrus. I am in Santa Fe today. I speak to the Army Corps of Engineers tomorrow. I am staying in a fabulous hotel…La Posada De Santa Fe Resort and Spa which is a Rock Resort. Our suite  has three fireplace and one is burning right now. It has a seperate room with a pool table and two bathrooms. Last night we had dinner in their four star restaurant Fuego. It was supurb. If you get to Santa Fe, stay here. I had a famous young female movie star staying in the suite next to mine. I can’t tell you her name as I was sworn to secrecy. We are heading out now for a nice spicy Santa Fe breakfast which may cause my health care costs to go up. By the way, this hotel is haunted so goes the story among the staff and local residents.

1 Comment
  1. Sounds like you had a great time in Sante Fe. We love it also. Canyon Road is one of our favorites for getting some exerise and enjoying the great art galleries.
    Since retirement is coming upon me in a few years, it is great to here how some simple ways to be frugal, can save some signifant money over the course of the year. Thanks for the tips.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *