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Ducks in a Row: The Ultimate In Employee Trashing

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017


“We value/care about our employees” is one of the most hypocritical statements companies make these days.

(“Our customers are very important to us” is the other.)

Want proof?

The Republican-controlled Congress is pushing through a bill to give corporations the ability to intrude deeper and more personally into your life than ever before.

A little-noticed bill moving through Congress would allow companies to require employees to undergo genetic testing or risk paying a penalty of thousands of dollars, and would let employers see that genetic and other health information. (…) The new bill gets around that landmark law by stating explicitly that GINA and other protections do not apply when genetic tests are part of a ‘workplace wellness’ program.

This mean that, in the name of “wellness,” your boss will know if you were treated for an STD or that you are predisposed for alcoholism, Parkinson’s, cancer, or whatever.

Not only your boss, but the unregulated company that runs your company’s wellness program, but is not constrained by HIPPA rules.

Employers, especially large ones, generally hire outside companies to run them [wellness programs]. These companies are largely unregulated, and they are allowed to see genetic test results with employee names. (…) They sometimes sell the health information they collect from employees.

Can your company actually force you to comply?

No, but the penalty for refusing is costly in the form of higher insurance premiums and co-pays.

No health insurance at your company? You could still take a major financial hit.

If an employer has a wellness program but does sponsor health insurance, rather than increasing insurance premiums, the employer could dock the paychecks of workers who don’t participate.

In general, Corporate America’s attitude towards its employees reflects its attitude towards customers.

For the most part, that ranges from “general nuisance” to “necessary evil.”

And while the number of exceptions to that attitude, at least when it comes to customers, is growing, it doesn’t always apply to employees.

As the provisions of this long-desired bill prove.

That said, it will be a great recruiting tool for those companies that don’t do it.

Image credit: Daniel R. Blume

Employees Are Our Most Important Asset – Really?

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

“Employees Are Our Most Important Asset” It’s almost ubiquitous in corporate culture statements, but what does it really mean?

Financially, employees simply don’t show up on the balance sheet. On the income statement, employees are definitely an expense, often well over 50% for most service-oriented companies. So, in any accounting or financial sense, employees are simply not treated as assets.

Next, asset ownership. Companies own assets .They can buy assets, sell assets, and borrow against assets. Pretty difficult to do that with employees.

Finally, assets tend to have long lives. Real estate has a long life, patents last 17 years (or more); even inventory has a shelf life up to a year.

But companies treat employees just the opposite. Companies resist unionization, which creates long-term relationships with employees. Companies prefer “at will” agreements, which allow the company to terminate employee relationships with only two weeks notice. Is that long-term thinking?

Bluntly, most American companies simply do not treat employees as long-term assets. European companies are even worse. Due to government regulations limiting a company’s ability to terminate employees; most European companies go to extreme lengths to avoid hiring full-time employees.

Rather than working to acquire these human “assets,” they actively avoid them. Sounds like employees are treated more like liabilities than assets.

And in the US the concept of “employee as a liability” has certainly gained currency in the past ten years. Temporary employment, both full-time and part-time, has exploded. Outsourcing, both foreign and domestic, is simply one more way for companies to avoid acquiring employee liabilities.

While employees may be our “most important asset,” companies act as if employees are their greatest liability.

Does your organization claim that employees are its most important asset? How does it demonstrate that? Do your employees believe it? Let us know.

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