July 17, 2007
Businesses and their Employees
Posted by Lisa Fairfax

I have been traveling a bit lately and, as is apparently inevitable, my most recent flight was delayed.  However, the delay gave me the opportunity to speak with a fellow passenger who happened to own a mid-sized business.  Once he discovered that I was a Corporations professor at a law school, he at first lamented lawyers and the amount of money he had to pay in legal fees each year.  He then said that the fees (and the threat of lawsuits they often represented) were particularly annoying because he was, as he described himself, "one of the most accommodating bosses in the world."  When I guess I appeared skeptical, he explained that he made it a point to have a very flexible work schedule for his employees, and if people needed time off or to come in late to "watch their kids or whatever"--his answer was always that they should take the time, their job would be there when they returned.  He said the answer was the same if the time off was ten minutes or ten months.  When I asked him if he could really run a business with people taking ten months off at a time, he responded that the problem with most people in human resources was that they "forget that resources are things you build up, not something you constantly turn over."  I found the quote so interesting, that I knew I would share it.  The conversation reminded me that while many corporate scholars may debate the wisdom of whether or to what extent corporations should devote time and resources to employees, at least some business owners do not see it as a debate at all.  Thus, while I know that not all employers have the same philosophy as my fellow passenger, I found it refreshing to hear that some not only believe that focusing on employees and their welfare is an integral part of running a business, but also implement that belief through their employment policies.  Alas, I considered my flight delay time well spent.

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