Are People Assets

BusinessSo a week after the infamous loss to the Seattle Seahawks on January 6, 2013, many have question Mike Shanahan’s decision to keep Robert Griffin III (RBIII) in the game. So the Washington D.C. Business Journal asked area business leaders of the decision.  Most were ok with the decision, while others weren’t.  Two notable quotes came from John Micale of USI Insurance Services LLC and Glen Hellman of Driven Forward LLC.

John Micale

I see my employee as an asset to an organization, just purely selfishly, and I wanted to protect the asset. I also wanted to send him a message that his health and wellbeing mattered more to me than any business objective. I think your employees need to know that you care about them, that’s the most important leadership rule.”

Glen Hellman

Leadership requires courage and decisiveness. Shanahan showed neither by deferring the decision to his star quarterback who desired to remain in the game.”

Having worked in business for over thirty-years, I am under no illusion that many business owners are unlike Mr. Micale, “… see my employees as an asset …” In fact, many businesses consider personnel an “expense” and quickly shed employees as financial winds bellow.  To illustrate, let’s look at Papa Johns. For the sake of brevity, I like Papa Johns Pizza, order it often. And while I could have chosen any one of a number of business examples, I just happened to see the Papa Johns two-million pizza give away commercial over the weekend.

Papa John’s CEO, John Schnatter, weighed in on the impending Affordable Care Act legislation. Mr. Schnatter’s issue: the Affordable Care Act dictates full-time employees (those working 30 hours or more per week) at companies with more than 50 workers be provided health Insurance. Schnatter claimed Papa Johns, like other companies, would cut employee hours to avoid providing healthcare.

However, if one checks the math, Papa Johns earns roughly $1.218 billion in revenue. Total operating expenses were $1.131 billion. So if Schnatter’s math is accurate (the Affordable Care Act will cost his company $5-8 million more annually), then new regulation translates into a cost increase of .06₵ to .09₵ per pizza. Err, correct! Fractions of a percent in real business expense.

What’s funny is the Papa Johns commercial. In September 2012, Papa Johns announced that it would be giving away two-million free pizzas, a promotion designed to increase brand awareness. So in case you’re wondering, all that ‘free’ pizza would be the equivalent of $24 million to $32 million in revenue.

Apparently pizza can talk from both sides of the crust.

In truth, most companies rarely treat employees as assets. RGBIII was no different. RGBIII is and was a modern day Roman Gladiator. Whether RGBIII is permanently or long-term injured may be of little concern. Same holds true in the NFL’s concussion crisis. Close to 3,000 former NFL players claim to experience depression, diminished brain function, dementia and other allegations. Ex-players also reported barriers to getting help for depression, including a preference to rely on religion or family, lack of insurance and feelings that these problems aren’t important.

Yes, most former players lack of insurance. And if there’s one connection the Affordable Care Act attempts to weave it’s this: people are assets.

In the long run, Mike Shanahan’s decision to keep GBIII in the game may be of little significance. Like most employees of any company, RGBIII is simply a current asset … today. But will he still be asset seven years from now? Will any of us?



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