Best companies to work for according to ‘Fortune’

Messages at work? No wonder Google is #1 on Fortune’s list of the 100 best companies to work for.

Rank: 1
Previous rank: 1
2011 revenue ($ millions): $37,905

What makes it so great?
The Internet juggernaut takes the Best Companies crown for the fourth time, and not just for the 100,000 hours of free massages it doled out in 2012. New this year are three wellness centers and a seven-acre sports complex, which includes a roller hockey rink; courts for basketball, bocce, and shuffle ball; and horseshoe pits.

Check out the rest of the list.

Should these benefits like messages be taxed? I don’t think so.

The equal pay debate

With the election over, it will be interesting to see how the equal pay debate that produced the infamous “binders full of women” phrase from Mitt Romney will evolve. There are all sorts of opinions on this issue regarding how to make things fair, but many argue that women have to take control of their own situations and learn how to advocate for their own salaries. Meanwhile, government has to enforce equal pay laws on the books.

How to haggle for a better salary


Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Are you afraid to ask for a raise? That’s understandable in the current economic climate, but many employees have good arguments for a pay raise, and learning how to negotiate salary is very important for new employees and for employees looking for more compensation.

This article give some helpful tips, and the most important involves getting as much information as possible.

“You shouldn’t just pull a number out of a hat,” says Ofer Sharone, assistant professor of work and employment research at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. “Tell them what you’ve researched and explain why you’re worth more than the average person.” Pynchon agrees: Don’t make the discussion about what you want, but what you can provide. “Tell them, ‘I walk on water, and I can walk on water at your company too.’ ” It helps if you request a salary before they offer you one; the first number on the table influences the rest of the negotiation.

Be smart about this. You have to know about your situation, the realities as work and the nature of the market in your field. Good luck!

The crippling cost of college

One of the themes we keep emphasizing has to do with the crippling costs of a college education today in America. Sure, college campuses are much nicer with all the new buildings and new technologies, but they are failing in their basic mission if students leave there with massive student debt that will hang over them for the rest of their lives.

More publications are doing good work discussing these problems. In Newsweek, Megan McArdle asks whether college is a lousy investment.

Why are we spending so much money on college?

And why are we so unhappy about it? We all seem to agree that a college education is wonderful, and yet strangely we worry when we see families investing so much in this supposedly essential good. Maybe it’s time to ask a question that seems almost sacrilegious: is all this investment in college education really worth it?

The answer, I fear, is that it’s not. For an increasing number of kids, the extra time and money spent pursuing a college diploma will leave them worse off than they were before they set foot on campus.

Given the costs, it’s hard to argue with her on this point. She discusses how college was critical for many families in building a better life for the next generation. But sitting on an English degree with $150,000 of debt seems like a pretty bad deal.

That said, we can’t overreact to the current economic conditions. When the economy improves, more of these kids will get jobs with their degrees.

Yet something has to give, and it was very encouraging to hear President Obama challenge colleges to slow down tuition inflation.

Also, the future of free college courses looms on the horizon. Universities would be wise to start figuring out how to lower costs, or they might really have a problem in the future.

Negotiating your salary in a lateral move

Here are some interesting tips on how to gain maximum leverage in negotiating your salary when you are making a lateral move:

If you’re about to make a lateral move, you should list and monetize everything your employer has to pay for in order to secure your services. You may not have stock options, but you probably get a yearly bonus, vacation time, medical and dental benefits, life and disability insurance, free or low-cost parking, continuing education, professional fees and dues, subscriptions to professional journals, and the like.

To escape the strong anchor of your current salary, estimate how much each of those benefits would cost if you had to obtain them in the local market. The final number you calculate will be your “total compensation package.” That is the figure to use when your prospective employer asks you what you’re making now. And the term to use is “my total compensation package” or simply “my compensation.”

When you’re asking for more money than you’re currently making, you’ll also want to take a look at what you’re leaving behind. You might, for example, be giving up retirement benefits that haven’t yet vested, earned vacation, or a year-end performance bonus. You’ll want to ask your new employer to compensate you for the benefits you’ll be leaving at your old firm by making the transition to your new one. In Mayer’s case, that accounted for $14 million of her total compensation.

Read more about using that power and information to your advantage.

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