Monday, February 3, 2014

In Defense of Employers and Business Owners

Most articles on the workplace advocate for the employee rather than the employer. Indeed, bosses are often portrayed as clueless, dishonest, and/or lazy.

Yet I often find myself siding with bosses and employers over workers.

Of course, that makes me unpopular with most readers, if only because there are more workers than bosses and business owners. But there's a reason I often side with the higher-ups: I believe in championing merit over egalitarianism.

Of course, some bosses get promoted undeservedly but, on average, they're smarter, harder-working, more of a self-starter and lower-maintenance. Most business owners take far more risk and work far longer hours than do most of their workers. And they create jobs.

True, there are a few zillionaire CEOs, who, if only for symbolic effect, probably should be taxed further. But obscene-earning executives are but the tiniest sliver of the manager/executive pie. Most managers, per hour, don't make much more than do worker bees. And whatever moderate extra pay they get is fair in light of management's extra responsibility, skills and degrees, and yes that, on average, they're smarter. Plus, few bosses expect to work just 40 hours a week. And when they work longer, unlike workers, they don't get a penny of overtime.

I feel even more for the boss and business owner when I read studies of millions of workers stealing from their employer in various ways. I'm not talking here about taking pencils or even a laptop. I'm talking about more expensive stealing. For example, large percentages of workers, on company time, play on Facebook, Amazon, and sports sites for hours every day, take sick days when they're not sick, and knowingly making false claims to get undeserved big money from the company or taxpayer.  It's impossible to measure the percentage of false and exaggerated claims but it's instructive that employee lawsuits have, from 1989-2009, the latest year measured, increased 400%(!)

A study by the Career Advisory Board found that while 72 percent of job seekers are confident they can present the skills needed for a job, just 15 percent of hiring managers have the skills to fill open positions.

So when workers demand more "rights," I don't feel inclined to join the sea of journalists who--in my mind, thoughtlessly--abandon even a pretense of neutrality in favor of trying to get workers what they want, even if that's, net, unfair to bosses, business owners, and society.

Journalists' linchpin principle should not be to advocate for the little guy. It should be to advocate for merit. Ultimately, that will do the most good.

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