Wednesday, November 14, 2012

An Even Bigger Drag On Productivity

For me a career in community-destination marketing, a visitor-centric form of economic development, required the perfect blend of traits and interests such as altruism, historical context, passion, strategic thinking, innovation, growth orientation and community.

A day doesn’t go by during my retirement, however, that I’m not embarrassed by the apparent selfishness, insensitivity, self-centeredness and stinginess of some of the businesses who are among the primary beneficiaries of my former profession.

A recent example is the news coverage of some comments a week ago attributed to the CEO of Papa John’s, a publically traded business he founded in 1985.

A complete reading of the article shows that he is threatening to cut employee hours as a dodge around healthcare reform out of one side of his mouth, he’s whining at the same time about the increased costs he estimates that the healthcare overhaul will add.

Then, out of the other side of his mouth, he undermines that argument by saying that everyone will be required to have health insurance and businesses such as his will merely pass the costs along to society with the hidden costs of healthcare the reform is designed to curb.

The same was true in the mid-1920s when vehicle liability insurance was first made compulsory (something that also began in Massachusetts) and was initially opposed by many conservatives including business owners and leaders for many of the same reasons they oppose healthcare reform today.

A pizza delivery business such as Papa John’s is filled with the kinds of “hidden” costs that businesses themselves create and pass on to customers.  In Papa John’s case this include a nearly$3 dollar fee which is now added after an purchase is made and tacked on to the bill as if it were, but it is, in fact, used in part to cover commercial liability insurance for drivers using their own cars.

Fortunately, more and more businesses in various sub-segments of the tourism sector are stepping forward to pay a living wage, and to provide benefits such as health insurance and even acknowledging, as a Marriott official did recently, that paying even targeted taxes, when  levied in a timely fashion and used in part to help businesses thrive, do not hurt business.

A drag on society and the economy that is at least as debilitating as healthcare costs is the cost of childcare.  As illustrated in the excellent infographic created by Column Five Media and shown in this blog, in many states such as North Carolina, where I live, the annual cost of childcare is more than the average annual tuition at a public university.

Nothing hurts both business productivity and upward mobility than the cost of childcare.  It is also an issue at the core of any hope of improving student achievement and better preparing future generations for a global economy.

Making childcare universally available, accessible and affordable is an investment America can no longer overlook.  It is also one business owners and leaders can champion and shape as a direct impact on productivity and the bottom line.

This is an area where I hope that tourism sector businesses, which overwhelmingly require shift-work, can finally step forward and show leadership as so many have in the areas of brand simplicity, customer loyalty and innovation!

1 comment:

Chris said...

I expect that these businesses who are saying they are firing people and reducing hours due to healthcare issues will find that they will become less competitive by finding it harder to hire and retain quality employees and by finding it harder to expand and generate new business. "Tax evading" businesses will necessarily cede work and the associated profits to others. Right now, there is still a lot of uncertainty, and therefore a lot of reactionary responses, but smart businesses will continue to grow and expand under any conditions.