• U.S.

MANAGEMENT: Something Special

2 minute read
TIME

In Houston last week, employees of the Prudential Insurance Co. of America happily inspected their new 21-story, $9,000,000 office building; it seemed more like a country club than a place to work.

Stenographers typed in air-conditioned comfort; when they wanted a breather, they strolled into an airy lounge with an outside wall of glass, and sank into deep and comfortable modern chairs. At noon, the 1,200 employees all had a free three-course meal (main course: roast beef) in a spacious cafeteria; afterward, they could stroll along shady paths through 27½ landscaped acres surrounding the building. Off work at 4:15, they could swim in a big (75 ft. by 42 ft.) swimming pool, play tennis on two courts, get a book from the free lending library.

The new office was not mere altruism on Prudential’s part. It was Prudential’s way of luring workers, despite the fact that its wage scale is lower than other companies in oil-rich Houston. For all its employees, Prudential has free medical care, a noncontributory pension plan, and extra vacation days for good attendance; but Vice President Charles Fleetwood decided he would have to do “something special” to staff his new southwestern headquarters. With his new building, he not only got his staff, but now has a long waiting list.

Prudential has found out, says Fleetwood, that employees are more interested in fringe benefits and such things as pleasant working conditions and sports facilities than in higher wages. In Los Angeles, where there is the same kind of competition for office help as in Houston, Prudential had nearly a 100% turnover in a year. Said Fleetwood: “If our pool and other facilities cut turnover by as little as 5%, the pool alone will amortize itself in savings in five years.”

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