The Fraternal Employer
The unwelcome reality is that some of our hopes (“Our credit score stayed high, insurance covered everything!”) and even expectations (“What do you mean I can’t collect social security until I’m 85?”) might be dashed. Government can’t play the perfect “Dad” anymore. While smaller businesses may not have the clout to be paternalistic with workers, a “fraternal model” can bridge some of the rips in Father America’s safety net.
Can you imagine just how much worse problems like healthcare would be if smaller-scale employers, like yourselves, had not made these massive issues their own? What if, rather than scratching out a way to meet the rising costs, employers had simply bailed out? These honorable employers — for their own sake — might consider reframing things like insurance premiums and 401(k) contributions as “fraternal expenses” or “social investment” because that is truly what they are. Perhaps a second Chart of Accounts that recategorizes your disbursements to better track your “total role in society” will amplify the pride you should be feeling as an employer of your fellow citizens. Things like insurance premiums, social security contributions, charitable contributions, 401(k) expenses or matching contributions, etc. are social investments, and there might come a day when employers say things like “What’s the social number there in the Northeast?” and an owner might reply “It’s running about 12 percent of sales.” They may not be your brothers (or sisters) but they are somebody’s family. In tribal settings the person who takes responsibility for all who join is called the Chief.
Capitalism’s Unassuming Heroes
There was a time when people would think of certain professions and speak in reverent tones. If someone was a professor, priest or physician — they were said to be answering a calling. That person would be afforded special treatment because there was an open recognition that these people, in these positions, provided for others in a way that we, as business owners and managers, did not. We were more self-centered or at least that was the perception. Now, you can see how untrue that is.
Employer is the next great calling to be recognized and appreciated by the American people.
Those who start a business — with all the accompanying risk — and take on others; employing them; giving them a trade; presenting them with employee rights and then guarding those same rights; giving them a safe place to work; subsidizing their health coverage; contributing to their social security accounts, their disability and unemployment insurances; offering them a portable pension and COBRA coverage; and creating an environment where they have an opportunity to learn, grow, meet life-long friends (and possibly a spouse)?. . .?employers are the new American heroes.
A Gift For The Country
If you still are having trouble elevating your role in this great society, please consider this one question: Who is doing more for the American people than the American employer?
Employers do so much more than provide a paycheck. You are now a supplier of the basic tenets of prosperity and opportunity. From the moment you take on that first person you become something altogether different. A man on a raft alone isn’t a very compelling image but add just one person and that raft becomes a lifeboat. In that boat are all of the family members of these two people. Does that sound like a small lifeboat? What if there are five, 10 or 15 people on board with you? Add in their families and there might be close to 100 people counting on that boat and that captain! You’ve graduated from lifeboat to village.
This is why we do what we do. This is why you try so hard — every cold morning, every rainy Monday, every late night … every January 2nd. This is why good employers are today’s burgeoning heroic class. And this is why you can fight on, stay enthusiastic and continue to build. In the end, there is nothing greater to offer than a job.
About the author:
Chris Traynor, a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR), is the Director and Knowledge Scout for Whip-Smart Management Consulting, Wayne, N.J., (www.whip-smart.com) and has 25 years of experience in the solid surface industry as a consultant to fabricators, distributors, manufacturers and associated firms. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.