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After the tax cut, which employee perks are best?

Reuters

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By Beth Pinsker

If you were choosing from a menu, which would you pick: a $1,000 bonus, an extra percentage point match on your 401(k) or higher pay?

Hundreds of American companies are handing out goodies like these in the wake of the new tax bill. But, so far, workers cannot choose what perk they get.

“It may come, but not quite yet,” said Neil Lloyd, head of U.S. DC and financial wellness research at Mercer, a leading benefits consultant.

Companies seems to understand that happier and healthier employees are more productive, and improving their benefits helps retain a stable workforce, said Lloyd. But still, “raising wages will be a much slower affair,” he added.

If your company announces an extra benefit, or gives you an option of what benefit to take, here is how to evaluate what it means to your bottom line:

*Cash bonus

Many companies jumped in right away after the tax bill passed, announcing cash bonuses to employees – typically $1,000. Walt Disney, AT&T, Best Buy, Home Depot and JetBlue are a few of the companies handing out cash bonuses.

Bonuses are easy to process once a company has cash on hand.

For employees, however, the perk ends up to be slightly less, because of taxes. For somebody in the new 12 percent tax bracket, that $1,000 is $880. For individuals in the new 22 percent bracket, it is $780.

A short-term infusion of cash could have a long-term impact on workers concerned about debt if they use it to pay down credit card balances. Chris Whitlow, CEO of Edukate, an online financial wellness platform, said when he surveys workers, their biggest concern by far is debt. Even a few hundred dollars could take a bite out of debt, when you factor in compounded interest.

* Bigger 401(k) matches

Take that same $1,000 and make it part of an increased 401(k) match, and you could double it in less than ten years. But that is only if you are an employee who is participating in the company’s retirement plan up to the match level.

“Longer term, the 401(k) match has a bigger impact,” said Lloyd, adding the caveat that this only applies to the people who are investing already.

Some companies are adding cash to 401(k) accounts and some are increasing the percentage of the employee match, Lloyd added.

Companies like Visa double an employee’s contribution as a match. It recently announced it was upping the ante – to 5 percent from 3 percent. That means, if you put in $500, the company will put in $1,000 on top of it.

Of course, workers will still pay taxes on the match, just not until they withdraw the money in retirement.

* Pay increases

On the hierarchy of benefits, perhaps nothing is better for workers than a real raise in annual salary.

While some companies have announced increases, expect raises to come slowly.

“It’s not a simple answer, and it depends on demographics,” said John Bremen, managing director of human capital and benefits at Willis Towers Watson, a benefits consultant.

Some companies have increased their hourly minimum wage, mostly to $15, including banks like Capital One and SunTrust Banks. Other companies added money to their salary increase pools, but may not have announced raises yet because it is harder to explain in a press release, Bremen notes.

“If the salary increase pool was 2.8 percent and now it’s 3 percent, that’s huge dollars for a company with 20,000 employees,” Bremen said, noting that the charge for one company he knows is $5 million.

For Bremen, figuring out which benefit is best comes down to an individual’s situation.

“The lower a person’s wage, the more each dollar means to them,” he said.

More perks are coming to workers, and they will last a while. “They will build this in. Not all, but many of these, could last for years,” Bremen says.

(This version of the story cuts paragraph six which repeats paragraph five.)

(Editing by Lauren Young and Andrew Hay)

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Agata

    February 16, 2018 at 11:38 am

    Thank you. Wishing you the same.

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Pickledelphia Rescheduled for October, See You There

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Shit weather put Philly’s first-ever pickle festival in, well, a pickle. The rain washed away plans for the food fest to take place earlier this month, but a new day has been chosen: Sunday, October 14.

The festival will still go down at The Piazza at Schmidt’s Commons when it unites pickle lovers this fall.

In case this is the first time you’re hearing about Pickledelphia, here’s what to expect: More than a dozen food vendors, plus 15 pickle companies, who’ll be selling themed edibles such as pickle-flavored ice cream, pickle creme brûlée, and pickle pizza.

Pickledelphia even partnered with Jameson for a pickle back bar. Yeah, they’re not fucking around. Pickle Bloody Mary’s. Pickle margaritas. This is not a drill.

Better than the Weekend will have a tent set up with some giveaways, so be sure to say hi.

Information on the event, presented by Studio 27 Print & Design and Digital Force Agency, can be found by visiting their website: phillypicklefest.com.

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Inside Performix House: The Gym That’s Harder to Get In than an Ivy League School

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Welcome to Performix House — if they’ll let you in. This is New York’s latest elite fitness establishment and it’s where the most driven, fit, influential, able-bodied minds unite to achieve the ultimate Instagram-worthy body. With a 13 percent acceptance rate, it’s easier to get accepted to an Ivy League university such as Cornell.

The fitness incubator is an extension of Performix, a sports performance supplement brand available for sale in GNC and The Vitamin Shoppe.

The lowest tier of membership begins at $249 per month, which does not include independent gym access: members must have a scheduled personal training session with one of Performix House’s trainers to use the fitness facility. For $899 each month, members enjoy the luxury of unlimited access to Performix House’s premium amenities, including massages and cryotherapy.

One month of top-tier membership could allow someone to work out at Planet Fitness for seven-and-a-half years. It would even cost less to lease a 2018 Maserati than it would to be a member at Performix House.

Their personal trainers, who they refer to as collaborators instead of employees, have access to Performix House’s professional video production team to create the best fitness content. videographer and editor to create content. “We’re helping them connect with their consumers and grow their following,” says Hesse.

Devon Levesque is among their training collaborators. He has more than 80,000 Instagram followers.

The dude is a beast.

Matt Hesse, founder and CEO of Performix House, accepted about 230 members out of roughly 1800 applicants.

Hesse told Forbes membership isn’t unobtainable. He wants to bring together a community of driven individuals. Each applicant is given the opportunity to answer one testing question: What do you do to own every day?

After hearing that, my new goal is to work out at Performix House.

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Scranton Artists: Here’s Why We Need Art

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Some jackasses, a.k.a. policy-makers and school boards, just don’t seem to f#&%ing get the importance of art enough to secure its funding and need to have its influence spelled out.

The Electric City is about to get more eclectic thanks to a group of artists banding together — basically for the good of mankind — to host a series of inventive workshops placing priority on connecting the community through creative expression during one of the most politically and culturally divisive climates in modern America. Among the artists, a wine glass painter who helps looking at the emptiness following the last sip of boxed Franzia (we all drink it) a little less depressing. Another makes flashy hats — the kind you saw posh guests wear to the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. They’re called fascinators. Then there’s a young woman who crafts dreamcatchers and alters books from their original form to turn them into something eye-catching and display-worthy. A graphic designer is even in the mix.

The workshops will initiate this fall at the new Eclectic City Studio inside Jeff D’Angelo’s Design Group HQ at 631 Prospect Ave.

Each artist will have sign-ups for their debut workshop, while displaying and selling their art, at Bogart Court, the brick alley nestled behind Lackawanna Ave., during First Friday Scranton from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on September 7. They’ll set up outside AOS Metals, which sells handmade jewelry and a collection of items from local handmade artists, and The Velvet Elvis, a kitschy vintage shop that looks like every crazy rich dead aunt’s estate sale. You’ll find something there that you’ll be glad wasn’t willed to your sister.

The Eclectic Studio founder, Jeff D’Angelo, will feature handmade props throughout Bogart Court — including a display in honor of The Office outside Better than the Weekend’s HQ and a Jurassic Park exhibit and photo booth inside.

Before escaping to the remote Isla Nublar from Jurassic Park — through Jeff D’Angelo’s handmade props — here’s a reminder of why we need art in all of our lives from the artists behind the Eclectic City Studio:

Melanie DiPietro, Painted Wine Glasses by Melanie

“Expression. Not everyone communicates or comprehends the same way. I am a visual person, so colors, shapes, sounds, and movement all speak to me. There’s nothing else in the world that can compare to this type of expression. What a bland place the world would be without art.”

Photographed by Justin Adam Brown, Better than the Weekend, August 2018

Aubrey McClintock, A Daily Obsession

“Life is better decorated. My fascinators are meant to make people smile and are not to be taken terribly seriously. While not everyone is willing to wear a towering french fry sculpture on their head, they can still enjoy that such a thing exists and that there are people out there who will happily sport such a concoction.”

Photographed by Justin Adam Brown, Better than the Weekend, August 2018

Maddesen Paige Wright , DIY Dreamcatchers & Altered Book Art

“Art gives people an outlet; a field to be uncensored and irrevocably themselves.”

Photographed by Justin Adam Brown, Better than the Weekend, August 2018

Kristy Jamison, Two Tree Design Co.

“Our modern world is connected in ways that past generations could only dream of. Art helps us communicate, reflect on, and express our cultures and beliefs. Art can be a powerful, passionate tool that allows us to shout messages about politics and human rights issues across language and cultural barriers. Art — whether it’s drawing, painting, music, words or performance — can also be a meditative and healing outlet, releasing uncensored emotions in a natural and rewarding way. Art feeds our economy and enriches our lives.”

Photographed by Justin Adam Brown, Better than the Weekend, August 2018

Jeff D’Angelo, Jeff D’Angelo Design Group

“Art is truly the purest form of creative expression. People can use art to make their mark on the world and, in turn, promote further growth and interaction with others.”

Photographed by Justin Adam Brown, Better than the Weekend, August 2018

More information on the artists and their First Friday Scranton visit at Bogart Court can be found here.

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