Maximum Nonsense About Minimum Wages

Executives and business trade associations fighting against President Obama calling for an increase in the minimum wage are arguing against their own self interests.¬†Organizational success is a function of many productive sums adding up to a greater whole, and the correlation between a properly compensated workforce that feels respected by its management and profitable growth is a more certain science than claiming an increase in minimum wages would wreck many businesses. Indeed, companies that treat and compensate employees like a commodity to be purchased at the lowest amount experience higher rates of employee turnover, theft and dissatisfied customers. Clearly, that’s not a recipe for success and no human resources executive or organizational development professional of any repute advocates lower pay and inferior benefits as a winning business strategy.

Airports must have among the highest concentration of minimum wage workers in the United States. Given all the hysteria about President Obama’s State of the Union address, I can’t imagine a better place to be than an airport to consider potential impact from higher minimum wage jobs. Thank goodness I have a $6.00 bottle of water I bought at this airport’s Hudson News to nurse on while I consider minimum wage hike implications.

Has any airport ever appeared on anyone’s Most Admired List? When was the last time anyone ever raved about their incredible airport experience, the stellar service received? I fly a lot and the people working at Bradley International are indistinguishable from workers you’d find at any other US airport. At best, airports are endured.

Although we can’t remember the last time anyone ever praised an airport, we can’t pick up any profitable company’s Annual Report without reading at least a few paragraphs on their great people. No CEO ever makes any public statement without gushing about the wonderful workforce (s)he has the pleasure of directing. Attributing a company’s growth and profitability to its workforce competency is conventional because it makes good sense. Although cost management is an equally crucial business priority, tightly controlling expenses is a far cry from the institutionalized mediocrity common for any company or organization that does not treat its people well. My professional experiences tell me that businesses attempting to manage costs on the back of employees create such low value the company’s viability is in serious doubt; the value created for customers is typically equal to the value created by employees.

My $6.00 bottle of airport purchased water is outrageous, but that inflated price has nothing to do with labor costs. Market forces dictate pricing, and between regulatory, real estate, and supply and demand, I can’t compare what I paid for Poland Spring at Bradley to picking up a case of water at my local grocery store. Value received, either intrinsic or perceived, more often determines what one will pay for a product than price alone and there is overwhelming evidence that shows consumers do not solely define value by price. Consequently, I reject the idea that increasing the minimum wage would damage the overall economy by kicking off inflation.

Sure, there would be some businesses negatively impacted by an increase in the minimum wage. But my strong belief, based on my experiences working with troubled companies, is these businesses offer such low value to begin with they’re simply not competitive. For them, it’s far wiser to fix the problems that really ails

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