Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Parable of the Bad Job Creators

Once upon a time, there was a couple who ran a mid-sized business in a small town.   They just couldn't get along, and spent their days arguing about anything and everything.  Business was not good, as their workforce was dispirited and their clients were drifting away.

One day, after a particularly heated argument, one of their managers came to them and let them know that the morale had gotten so bad that most of the employees were likely going to quit.  "Our salaries have been stagnant for five years," said the manager.  "And we all hate working here.  The whole town knows how crappy it is to work here.  If you don't do something, we'll walk."

The couple went back into their office, realizing that if they didn't act, they'd lose all of their employees, and would have trouble finding new ones.  They argued quietly but productively, and then came up with a solution.

They needed to give their employees a raise.   But how?   They didn't have enough liquidity in their bank accounts, and their credit was nearly tapped out.   Suddenly, each of them had a solution.

We could take money they've contributed into the company-managed retirement fund, said she.  It's struggling anyway.

Sure, said he!

And we could also take money they've put into the charitable fund, the one we use to do giving to those two local nonprofits that provide care to the indigent elderly and the disabled and the orphans.

So long as people were getting a raise, what did it matter where it came from?  The employees would be happy.  The couple agreed.

Then, of course, they began to argue about how large the "raise" should be.  Their voices grew louder.

When the employees heard the arguing, they were angrier, and argued among themselves.

How dare they argue about the size of the raise!  It should be as big as possible!

And the couple heard them, and smiled.