Corporate tax cut: How executives plan to use the available funds

Anisha Turner, right, recruiter for the Protocol Group Company, talks to Michelle Cassidy of Levittown, during the Recruitment Queen Job Fair inside the Sears court at Oxford Valley Mall in Langhorne, Pa. Wednesday, January 17, 2018.

Employee bonuses. Gym memberships. College funds. New equipment.

While opponents of the federal corporate tax rate cut – now 21 percent, down from 35 – contended companies might just use the savings to line their pockets, many Top Workplaces are spending it.

“We’re using it!  Just give me that chance to spend some money,” said Brad Goldoor, vice president of people for Phenom People, a Horsham company that has developed a “talent relationship marketing platform” to link people looking for jobs with companies.

Part of the money will go toward moving to a new and larger office space in Ambler. That was in the works anyway, but the tax savings “allowed us to accelerate the move,” he said. “It allows us to give everyone a better working environment.”

Beyond that, employees will be reimbursed for their cell phones and their home internet. They’ll get $50 a month toward wellness, which includes mental wellness.  Anyone who gets married — $1,000.  Anyone who has a baby — $500 toward a college fund.

Some companies do not yet know what their savings will be or do not expect a significant tax break. Others haven’t decided what they’ll do with expected savings.  Still others, taking a more sober view of the economy and their responsibility to prepare for the future, are reinvesting in their companies.

“The change in the corporate tax plan will allow us to put that money into the bank to prepare for an economy downturn,” said Ed DeAngelis, founder and president of EDA Contractors in Bensalem. Plus, EDA will be able to make an equipment purchase outright instead of borrowing.

The current tax break “is for the extremely large corporations that produce incredible profits,” DeAngelis said. “Family-owned small businesses do not earn those type of profits. A good small business will take the tax savings and put it in the bank for future opportunities.”

Gauging from a survey of the region’s Top Workplaces, many of pretty much every size are using it now to benefit their employees.

Beneficial Bank, in addition to giving all employees at the assistant vice president level and below a $1,000 bonus, is increasing its minimum wage from $11 to $14.

Similarly, TMNA Services, LLC, with offices in Bala Cynwyd, gave wage increases of $1 an hour to its non-exempt employees earning less than $75,000. Overtime-exempt employees earning less than $75,000 got a $1,000 bonus.

“Our intent was to direct the money where we thought it would have the greatest impact,” said Sarah Naraghi, assistant vice president, human resources. ”We announced it on Jan. 11 and paid it on Jan. 19. Because it was unexpected, it surprised a lot of people and made them realize we’re invested in them and committed to them.”

Tabula Rasa HealthCare, based in Moorestown, asked its staff for ideas and has begun exploring one in particular – matching employees’ charitable donations. The Philadelphia Contributionship, an insurance company based in Old City, already does that and is considering expanding the program.

Avanceon LP, based in Exton, is going to use the money to add two customer service positions. That way, the customers benefit, Avanceon’s employees won’t have to split tasks, as they’ve been doing, and “two new great people get to join our team,” said Brian Fenn, vice president of operations.

Russ Starke, CEO of the Conshohocken design firm, Think Company, is still mulling options. But he’s sure about one thing: “We want to be an example for how companies can run, and how they can treat their employees and clients. We want to use this in a way we feel good about.”  One idea topping the list is to fund RideECO, a commuter benefit program that allows workers to put pre-tax dollars toward fares on public transportation.

He also might beef up monthly events focused on team-building that are flat-out fun. It’s their culture. Recently, they did Escape the Room, where a group is given an hour to solve clues and figure a way out of a room. “We’re kicking around … going to a curling facility,” Starke said.  “Wouldn’t that be a scream? Get everyone out of the office and getting together and laughing.”

The way Phenom People’s Goldoor sees it, “There’s a big debate out there. Is the customer first or employee first? Our philosophy is employees first, because if you take care of the employees, they’re going to take care of the customers.”

As with most places that are giving back to their employees, the response at Phenom People has been “overwhelmingly good,” Goldoor said. “I’ve been pulled aside and thanked. … Putting this type of attention into employee benefits really makes this a great work home.”