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July 27, 2000
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Stock options still popular too

IRVINE, Calif--For employers interested in retaining valued employees, a new national survey indicates that money still talks -- and that Americans are having second thoughts about the relative importance of other workplace perks.

Although "a raise" and "improved benefits" continue to be the factors respondents cited most frequently when asked about what keeps them on the job, working Americans appear to be re-evaluating their positions on flex schedules, stock options and better training. In the latest BridgeGate Report, interest in a more flexible work schedule stands at 12%, down from 14% in the 1999 Report. Conversely, more working Americans expressed interest in stock options -- 12% this year compared to 9% last year.

"With the cooling of the dot-com economy, we're witnessing something of a return to fundamentals," said Dudley Brown, managing director, BridgeGate LLC. "For many workers, the so-called `intangibles' -- notably flexible work schedules and training -- are taking a back seat to more concrete concerns. In any period of uncertainty or change, compensation and its equivalents tend to rise to the top. Workers certainly do care about benefits -- just not as much as they do about cash and, increasingly, stock."

The first BridgeGate survey of 660 Americans was conducted December 28-30, 1998, by Market Facts. Although the most popular response at that time was "a raise" -- named by less than half of the sample (43%) -- non-monetary issues were cited collectively by an even larger number (50.5%). According to the first BridgeGate Report, companies were increasingly likely to retain employees by paying attention to improved benefits (23%), a more flexible work schedule (14%), stock options (9%) and better training (5%).

The Salary Glass: Half-Empty or Half-Full?

This go-round, 46% of the respondents still claim that "a raise" would convince them to stay -- and non-monetary issues were cited just as frequently (46%). Significantly, although "improved benefits" remains the second leading retention factor with 18%, the total number citing "benefits" decreased by five percent (23% in the 1999 survey).

A demographic breakdown of survey respondents provides further clues about the factors behind employee loyalty and retention:

-- As might be expected, women are slightly more likely than men to value a more flexible work schedule (12% vs. 11.6%). Conversely, men are nearly three times more motivated than women by stock options (17% vs. 6%).

-- Age plays a role, too: workers ages 18 to 24 are more likely to be influenced by a raise than those in other age groups (54% vs. 46% for all respondents). Older workers place a greater reliance on benefits: 19% of those age 45 to 54, and 22% of those age 55 to 64 named improved benefits, as compared to 18% of all respondents. Older workers also placed a greater value on a flexible work schedule than do other groups: 13.5% of those age 45 to 54, and 16.5% of those age 55 to 64, compared to 12% of all respondents.

-- Junior-level workers (ages 25 to 34) are greatly influenced by better training (5% vs. 4% for all respondents); as were those with some college education or a degree (4.5% vs. 4% for all respondents).

-- Education matters: those with a high school education or less place a greater emphasis on benefits (19% vs. 10% for those with a post-graduate education). The greater an individual's education, the more that stock options figure into the equation: 7.5% for those with high school or less, 14% for those with some college education or a degree, and 18% for those with some post-graduate education or a post-graduate degree.

The BridgeGate Survey 2000 of 667 Americans was conducted this past spring. The margin of error is +/- 3 percentage points. For a copy of the survey results, call 818/719-9299.

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