Employee Ownership– Shrinking Income Gap Between Capitalists and Workers: Illusion, Scam, or Employee Capitalism…

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World of Employee Ownership: What’s the one thing that– Pope Francis, Barack Obama, Marco Rubio, Warren Buffett… all agree on? All workers must have a ‘fair share’ in a company’s success, including; profits, productivity, prosperity… But the big question is how? Proponents say it’s through ’employee (worker) ownership’ that employees can be enriched from a company’s success (beyond just wages and benefits)… but critics say that most employee ownership plans are– illusions, scams, and they don’t work… Typically, a ’employee ownership’ plan refers to ownership for a broad cross-section of employees, including; rank-and-file employees… generally the plans offered by companies, include; employee stock ownership plan (ESOP), or employee stock purchase plan (ESPP), or 401(k) plans, which may offer company stock as an investment alternative…

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However, the word ‘ownership’ has a myriad of meanings in the minds of employees, e.g.; according to one survey employees (workers) likely to define ’employee ownership’ using some combination of the following meanings: 1.) Financial Payoff: some workers see ownership as a financial benefit, and as owners they expect at some point to receive cash value… 2.) Participation: some workers want to be included in the decisions that affect their day-to-day work, and they want to have a voice on issues that affect working conditions… 3.) Influence: some workers want to have a part in broader, company-wide decisions, and they want a degree of influence on strategic issues… 4.) Community: some workers want to feel a bond with their fellow owners, and they want to feel that the whole company is– ‘in it working together’… 5.) Fairness: some workers primarily want to be treated fairly, and they want sensible rules without ‘special treatment’ for the CEO or other management…

Over 13 million U.S. employees participate in ESOPs, about 9 million hold stock options, and about 11 million participate in stock purchase plans; there is some overlap in these various plans, which means that there may be approximately 25 million employees in the U.S. (out of a non-governmental workforce of over 120 million) participating in broad-based employee ownership plans… and this is within thousands of corporations both large and small… The main benefit of employee ownership is that it gives employees the ability to benefit or lose from the fluctuations in value of a company’s stock… Companies that adopt employee ownership plans find, and research confirms, that a more participative and sharing approach to company management makes for a much more productive workplace, and higher probability for success…

In the article When Workers Are Owners by The Economist writes: It’s popular to lament the growing gap between capitalists and workers but, in one respect, the gap is shrinking: The number of workers who own shares in the company that employs them has never been higher; 32 million U.S. workers own stock in their companies through– pension and profit-sharing plans, share-ownership, share-option schemes… and the idea continues to gain momentum… Conservatives like employee ownership because it gives workers a stake in the capitalist system… Left-wingers like it because it gives them a piece of the capitalist pie… And middle-of-the-roaders like it because it helps to close a potentially dangerous gap between management and labor… A number of studies have found that companies were employees have some level of ownership tend to be more productive, innovative, less staff turnover…

However, employee ownership has its drawbacks, e.g.; one issue is risk, when workers have too many eggs in one basket (i.e., entire wealth is tied only to their company equity)and should the company fail or significantly decrease in share value, then employees can lose it all– investments, pensions, jobs… A second issue is entrenchment: Supporters of employee ownership argue that it helps companies take a more long-term perspective… whereas, critics argue that it can entrench underperforming workers or bad management and undermine company’s long-term competitiveness… A third issue is entitlement:The strongest argument in favor of employee ownership is that workers will not only work harder, when they get a slice of profits or other benefits, but they encourage colleagues do so too… However,  the success of an employee ownership greatly depends on the way it’s  structured, and motivations behind its adoption… There are many positive reasons for employee ownership, but much attention must be paid to– its purpose, fairness…

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In the article Turning Workers Into Capitalists by z.m.b. writes: There is a depressing familiarity about much of the discussion on what to do about U.S.’s widening income inequality. Some remedies are not controversial but hard-to-achieve (e.g.; improving education); others are the subject of furious argument (e.g.; more progressive taxation). Once in a while, though, more creative, proposals are added to the mix… According to Joseph Blasi and Douglas Kruse, in their book ‘The Citizen’s Share’ they say; countering the workers’ declining share of national income is simple; just encourage companies to give workers more and broader participation in company issues, including; sharing in profits and other tangible financial benefits… the key issue is to improve worker status, financially… and the exact mechanism depends on the company and the workers– and they must decide whether it’s through– profit-share, stock ownership, stock options… there is no one-fits-all solution…

The logic of employee ownership (or worker capitalism) is not new, e.g.; the New England ‘cod fish’ industry in 1792 signed a profit-share agreement with their crews and also split the federal ‘allowance’… in 19th century, ‘Homestead Acts’ gave land free (ownership) to those willing to work the land… In 1974, ‘Industrial Homestead Act’ created ‘Employee Share Ownership Plans’ (ESOP), tax-advantaged trusts through which companies can provide employees with share-ownership… Through these and other initiatives; a large numbers of workers share in their companies’ success (but, critics say not enough is shared). Critics are quick to say when schemes are structured such that– ownership comes at the expense of lower wages, then workers may simply be shifting from a stable and liquid form of compensation to a more risky one…

In the article How to Shrink U.S.’s Income Gap by Thomas A. Kochan writes: Business and government must find new approaches for rewarding workers for their contribution to the success of business… the objective should be to find a sweet spot where all workers, who through their efforts improve the value of business, should also share in the profits and equity value of the business… A place to start is with greater worker participation, e.g.; open new avenues of communication so that workers have greater voice, representation; initiate worker councils where all employees have a right to participate in discussions of wage and other human resource policies; develop options for various types of employee ownership… The basic objective is to establish a fair work environment where workers  and management share, fairly, the gains of their labor…

Today over 12,000 ‘Employee Stock Option Ownership Plans’ (ESOPs) are in place, and in some form or other engage employees as owners… the plans that work typically follow a specific set of principles, e.g.; build a company culture of shared ownership, commitment that motivates everyone to work together, benefit together from success of the company… define career paths– promote and pay employees for obtaining new skills and engage in life-long learning with opportunities to move-up the income ladder as careers progress… retrain and redeploy– when workers are displaced due to advances in technology; there must be options e.g.; retrain affected workers with skills needed for new available jobs, or provide generous severance pay that allows them to find suitable jobs elsewhere… Income fairness is a critical issue for most companies, and it’s imperative that some workable solutions are found to improve the situation…

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Research over the last 25 years is clear; meaningful employee ownership can motivate employees and improve company performance… Companies must make a greater effort to seek out and address the fairness concerns of employees and not just listen– they must  act with positive initiates that changes policy, or at least communicates the rationale behind the policies which are perceived as unfair… In most companies, workers equity stakes are relatively small compared to management… These plans must be improved with greater employee participation… also, government must provide more generous incentives to encourage companies to expand employee ownership… and companies  must be more generous in the structure of employees ownership plans… 

Employee ownership is ‘glue’ that ties worker ‘wellness’ together in coherent program,  e.g.; bonuses, equity, performance initiatives, safety issues, training, benefits… However, none of the well intended initiatives succeed without employee (worker) participation– employee participation is key: Finding a systematic and safe way for workers to express what ownership means to them allows companies to tailor features of an ownership plan to satisfy the particular needs of their work force… Linking change to employees input can be just as important as the change itself… Hence, begin the debate– workers, companies, government must work together and find, or invent, new ways to encourage everyone– to ‘work’ together, and to ‘gain’ together, and ‘prosper’ together: Fairly.

 

 

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Survival of the Fittest– Fortune 500 Companies Survival Rate is 12.2%: Core of Business Survival– Self-Attack…

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Survival is the struggle to remain living, it’s self-preservation, its longevity… So is longevity really something to celebrate? Not according to Jim Collins; surely the point of being in business is to do something remarkable, not merely to survive? A lot of mediocre companies endure for many decades: What’s the point? Think about it… If you compare the Fortune 500 firms in 1955 vs. 2014; 89% of the companies are gone and it’s probably all for the better, because of that dynamic called; ‘creative destruction’… In other words, only 12.2% of the Fortune 500 companies in 1955 were still on the list 59 years later in 2014, and almost 88% of companies from 1955 have gone– bankrupt, merged, or still exist but have fallen from top Fortune 500 companies (ranked by total revenues)

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That’s a lot of churning and creative destruction, and it’s probably safe to say that most of today’s Fortune 500 companies will be replaced by– new companies in new industries over the next 50 years, and for that you should be thankful. The constant turnover in the Fortune 500 is positive sign of the dynamism, innovation that characterizes a vibrant consumer-oriented market economy… and that dynamic turnover is speeding-up in today’s hyper-competitive global economy… According to Steven Denning; fifty years ago, the life expectancy of a firm in the Fortune 500 was around 75 years. Today, it’s less than 15 years and declining all the time… But; What separates the winners from the losers? The great from the failed? The successes from the also-rans?

According to Morten Hansen; it’s not luck, it’s not birthright, it’s not fast-paced technology  age, it’s not ‘innovation’, and it’s not– despite what everyone says– economic recessions…  But according to research; it’s leadership; it’s the winning leaders who follow a path of consistent pacing, i.e.; productive paranoia… It’s being hyper-vigilant about the world and business environment around you, asking and probing question, such as; What are the threats? What are the opportunities? What are the disruptive competitive forces? According to Shellie Karabell; these are leaders with their sensors-up; they don’t know when, or in what form the bad times will come ,or in what shape, e.g.; it could be a collapse in demand, it could be regulatory change, it could be an industry recession, it could be a disruptive innovation… but, whatever the challenge they are prepared to self-attack…

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In the article Survival Of The Fittest by Jerry W. Thomas writes: What did Charles Darwin mean when he popularized the phrase– ‘survival of the fittest’? What he did not say is perhaps very revealing, e.g.: He did not say ‘survival of the toughest’, or ‘survival of the fastest’, or ‘survival of the biggest’, or ‘survival of the smartest’… No, he said ‘survival of the fittest’: What a strange word; ‘fittest’. One might tend to interpret Darwin’s ‘fittest’ as somehow related to physical fitness, or physical superiority, or ‘strength’… But, Darwin did not say ‘survival of the strongest’. He said ‘survival of the fittest’… So what does all of this mean for business; its strategy, its brand…?

Is survival of business akin in any way to survival of an animal, or plant, or bacterium…? Is it possible that success and survival in the wild might be analogous to success and survival in the business world? It means that the company and/or brand best ‘fitted’, or best ‘adapted’ to its environment (e.g.; its markets, its customers…) is most likely to survive, and most likely to flourish. It means that companies, or brands not well ‘fitted’ to their markets will not survive, long-term… making wise decisions based on factual reality and in-depth knowledge of– markets, customers… companies will thrive by being– ‘fittest’ of the ‘fit’…

In the article Survival Strategies: Innovate or Die by Pradip Sinha writes: Success is not a permanent achievement, it can be taken away by competitors at any time. Hence, it’s a fundamental imperative for companies to continuously innovate and evolve according to the ever-changing moods of markets, customers, technology… for survival and growth.  Typically, the bigger and more successful a business; the higher the hurdle to thrive, hence it’s incumbent upon the business to challenge status quo (self-attack), and continuously improve the way they do business. Today, business is nothing less than war; and victory is ephemeral. Sustaining a position in consumers’ mind is an on-going battle and victory can be snatched away with the blink of an eye…

The continuous battle for competitive leadership has forced companies to constantly innovate and stay relevant… These are companies with courage– to attack their own position in the marketplace… Continuous innovation and self-attack are at the core of competitive strategy for the 21st century companies… According to Jack Trout and Al Ries; best way to improve a company’s position is to constantly attack it… it’s all about changing the environment; it’s about breaking old rules and routine work pattern, and introducing new things with new standards. It means creating a sea change in the way consumers perform their day-to-day activities…

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In the article To Survive in Volatile World Businesses Must Build Resilience by Wayne Visser writes: In a changing world it’s not the fittest who survive; it’s the most adaptable… The world has this nasty habit of changing without permission, without notice… Hence, you might often find, suddenly, that you no longer are an agent of change but rather a victim of change… When change happens, you are left somewhere between mildly– confused, panicked, and battling for your very survival… Hence, can you really afford to talk about long-term sustainability, when short-term survival is so hard to achieve? The sobering fact is that many companies face a future in which saving the world may have to wait, while they save themselves first… Hence, chances are that businesses must get down and dirty in the trenches to survive, and this is called ‘resilience’… According to Axel Lehmann; resilience is an absolutely key concept– the ability to bounce back from a set-back at least as strong as before, even stronger… it’s about adapting when everything around you is changing… Remember that preparing for change is not same thing as surviving it…

In the article Survival of the Fittest Companies by Harold L. Sirkin writes: It’s not often you think of companies or products as ‘species’, but perhaps you should. It might help to understand more clearly the reality of life-cycles… how some adapt and change while others go the way of the buggy-whip… In today’s global marketplace, the competitive advantage often belongs to companies with competitive advantage, e.g.; manufacturer with the lowest cost of production, the big-box retailer with the best supply chain, the company with the biggest nest egg, or the most nimble management… Hence, during tough times only the ‘fittest’– those with significant advantage– survive…

There are no safe havens any more, and there are lessons learned that business leaders must fundamentally embrace, e.g.; be flexible; be prepared to adapt (especially as you enter new environments); find what works for you in each market segment and go with it (but don’t expect it to work equally well everywhere)… Build on strengths and increase your ability to adapt, make your company more ‘fit’, better suited to new environments, and better positioned to win the battle for survival of the ‘fittest’.  According to Willem P Burgers; business must be prepared to ‘attack’ and ‘destroy’ themselves before others do– self-attack means a constant innovation, examination…

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Companies must have the courage to attack themselves, repeatedly, and not be afraid of failure, since failure is the pillar of success, in the long run… But here is an interesting question: Is survival of a business akin, in any way, to survival of an animal, or plant, or bacterium? Is it possible that success and survival in the ‘wild’ might be analogous to success and survival in the business world? Did Charles Darwin discover anything that might be relevant to business in the 21st Century? Although Darwin did not suggest it, but maybe you can think of nature and ecological systems as a vast ‘free market’ of perfect competition, where all living organisms are competing against each other for limited resources (i.e., sunlight, water, minerals…)? Similarly, business and brands also compete with each other in a struggle for survival and collectively they tend to operate in ways analogous to the natural eco-systems…

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Reinventing the Business of Government– Inspire Entrepreneurship: Transform Inefficient Government Bureaucracy

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Entrepreneurship in government? The idea may sound like an oxymoron to government bashers; but government must become more creative with a different mind-set to stay relevant in today’s global society– there must be more entrepreneurial thinking in the business of government. Government means– federal, states, cities, local communities, such that this bureaucracy is more creative, efficient… According to Jeffrey Stinson; pundits are quick to suggest; make government more like business, but government is not a business and it cannot be managed like a business… but, maybe it can be more business-like; in its use of entrepreneurial techniques, ideas, philosophy… Government has lost its way; something must be done…

Transforming inefficient government bureaucracies into dynamic, customer-driven organizations is challenging under any circumstances, but when the entity is as vast and multifaceted as a current governments, many would argue that the mechanisms for substantial change do not exist, and the problems that governments must grapple with, have outstripped its capacity to respond creatively… But David Osborne; disagrees and argues that many of same tools used to improve performance of private companies, such as; employee empowerment, internal competition, accountability… can be used to ‘reinvent’ government, as well…

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According to Bruce G. Posner and Lawrence R. Rothstein; reinventing government is a mammoth task, much larger than any change efforts that would be undertaken for the largest multinational corporations… Consider; according to the U.S. Treasury; the U.S. federal government has over 2 million civilian employees, hundreds of departments and agencies, and is estimated to collect about $2.9 trillion in tax revenues, spend a total of about $3.43 trillion in its 2015 budget, resulting in a deficit of $532 billion. The deficit is expected to be 3.2% of its total estimated GDP of about $16.4 trillion… In addition and according to Gallup a survey; U.S. federal government workers are less engaged than the rest of U.S. workforce. On average 73% of federal government employees are disengaged in their jobs, compared with 69% of all workers in U.S.; this lack of engagement is costing U.S. government an estimated $18 billion in lost productivity annually, or about $9,000 per employee… Hence, the tough question is: How do you change government? How do you take a vast government bureaucracy, transform it into– creative, innovative, relevant… services provider?

What is Entrepreneurial Government? Traditional bureaucratic governments have nurtured people with tendencies to– protect their position, to resist change, to build authority, to enlarge their sphere of control, to encourage and defend projects and schemes irrespective of their relevance to the present conditions… in short, to protect the status quo. On the contrary, an ‘entrepreneurial’ government initiates more efficient and effective ways of managing systems and organizations. It’s a government that recognizes the importance of abandoning old and irrelevant programs and methods. It encourages taking timely and necessary action. It’s a government that is creative and innovative: It has a business-like-orientation. It privatizes wherever it makes pragmatic sense, and where private operators can provide the same service much more effectively. It makes room for new ventures and revenue-generating operations. It’s customer-driven and adopts transparent performance metrics. It rewards merit: It’s a government that welcomes change and challenges and has the will to win. In summary, an entrepreneurial government; first and foremost services its customers–the public… and it does so by staying relevant with it programs, creative in delivery of services, efficient in the use of resources…

In the article Public Sector Entrepreneur– New Type of Leadership by Regenesys writes: When you put public sector and entrepreneur in the same sentence it’s tempting to think of ‘tenderpreneurs’ or ‘corrupt officials’ who run businesses on the side. The public sector needs more entrepreneurial and innovation skills to continuously improve service delivery and to actually make the business of government work… Government leaders with a good understanding of the needs of customers, and ability to run public sector organizations on business principles, are rare. Increasingly, there is a need for leaders to learn high-level business skills that allow for more effective delivery of services, and the abilities to transplant ideas into the framework of regulation and complex world of politics and public administration… Government leaders need to have more in common with entrepreneurs; likewise, they need to create new models and frameworks for delivery, which are based on innovation, risk management, sustainable development…

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In the article Government Entrepreneur is Not an Oxymoron by Mitchell Weiss writes: The idea of ‘government entrepreneurship’ may sound like it belongs on a list of oxymoron right alongside with ‘government intelligence’… Government entrepreneurship is not simply about innovation in the public sector (although it uses innovation), and it’s not just policy reform (although it drives reform). Government entrepreneurship is about reinventing how things get done, by applying a different mind-set. But most government leaders, workers… are trained to be government ‘administrators’: They are schooled in status-quo management, i.e.; improve exist systems, instead of developing more efficient programs, better programs… that are relevant in today’s world and satisfy the needs of their customers (i.e., the public)… Current government bureaucracy is taught to run from risk instead of managing it… also it has developed a long-standing cultures that teaches people to keep their heads-down, stay out of trouble… and result very little constructive work gets done… The key to– better, different, relevant government is the crafting of a different kind of culture, e.g.; entrepreneurial mind-set… 

According to a public survey; 51% of respondents believe that the federal government needs ‘fundamental changes’; another 34% believe it needs ‘a complete rebuilding’… In other words, 85% of those polled believe fundamental change is needed in government, and that includes; federal, state, local… As a result, every politician in U.S. is desperate to find new ways to operate, e.g.; providing more services with fewer dollars and improve productivity… But that not the answer either, government has lost touch with the public it services; the current government mind-set is 100 years old, and it needs fundamental change… Why has government become so bloated and ineffective? According to David Osbome; think about how government institutions were created during the industrial era– government was structured as a– top-down, top-heavy hierarchy with multitudes of rules and regulations… now this aged government business model is outmoded and irrelevant… It has not kept up with the times; culture and society has changed, people have different needs, expectations… technology has changed, the world has changed; but the business of government continues to operate as it did one hundred years ago…

In the article Reinventing Government by Ted Gaebler, David Osborne writes: Most people’s image of government is– a sluggish, centralized bureaucracy with a hierarchical chain of command, preoccupied with rules and regulations. It’s a form of government from the industrial era, and it does not function well in the current rapidly changing, knowledge-intensive society… Today, most government agencies are required to perform complex tasks and provide services, in highly competitive, unpredictable environments, for which they were not designed or trained to do… The problem of government goes beyond the liberal/conservative dichotomy, where arguments revolve around more programs versus less, or raising taxes versus cutting spending… What is needed is not more or less government but different kind of government; government that is creative, innovative and embraces ‘entrepreneurial’ type thinking… This does not mean running government like a business, since that ignores the many differences between the two, or indiscriminately privatizing public programs… However, government can become more efficient, responsive by adopting methods, management techniques used in business…

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Common themes emerge from observing innovation in government, e.g.; promoting competition between service providers, use market mechanisms to bureaucratic ones, measuring performance and holding providers accountable… Also, they are driven by missions, not rules; they empower citizens by pushing control out into the community; and the public are defined as customers and offered choices… These common themes decentralize authority, and attack root-cause problems instead of only offering cures… Finally, government programs that focus on catalyzing the community to solve problems, rather than only on providing services… It’s time to take a fresh look at the business of government, to reinvent government, and to get government that works… A fresh look in the sense that it restates issues in nonpolitical terms, thereby avoiding endless partisan debate… Government is vital in a modern society, but it must be structured and managed to effectively service its customers– the public…

Sowing the Seeds of Change: Reinvention, innovation, entrepreneurship… is crucial to competitiveness… But it goes beyond that; a slow, bureaucratic system that specializes in shoddy service can put any ‘service entity’ at a serious disadvantage in a competitive market; government is no exception… The current edifice of government is a legacy of the past, created during vastly different times… Hence, governments worldwide are beginning to recognize that the current business of government is unsuitable to meet the requirements of today’s turbulent times. Many developed countries have made impressive advances in reinventing their governments. Reinventing government is a gigantic task, beyond the scope of any individual or group, it requires the consensus of the entire populations… Reinventing at any level (individual, group, or organization) fundamentally revolves around taking ownership, which implies operating with an entrepreneurial mind-set…

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Human Primeval Instinct, Impulse– Shape Modern Business: Hidden Drivers of Great Performance…

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Primeval nomadic tribes represent a lost ‘golden age’ of humanity… For hundreds of thousands of years, uncomplicated people with basic survival skillful traveled around in their tribal communities. They followed the seasonal cycles and existed– naturally, simply, harmoniously, in tune and unchanging within their environment… Research shows that they didn’t have to work hard to fulfill their needs, they had plenty of leisure time, there was little or no disease, no poverty… Far from the Victorian depiction of depraved half-starved savages, the lives of the ancient human ancestors were structured, well- organized, flourished for thousands of years… (Note: According to research; at least one-fifth of the Neanderthal genome may lurk within modern humans… findings revealed that Neanderthals interbred with ancestors of modern humans when modern humans began spreading out of Africa perhaps about 40,000 to 80,000 years ago, although some research suggests the migration began earlier: About 1.5 to 2.1% of the DNA of any human outside of Africa is Neanderthal in origin.)

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According to David Miles; humans, as opposed to primitive ancestors, have developed a modern world which is psychologically, socially, materially excessively complicated and unsustainable… Apparently humans have lost the essential values, as originally laid out by nature and promulgated through ancient ancestors, and are struggling to accommodate the demands of modern world psychology… According to Catherine Perigo; tribal communities of primitive ancestors were not motivated by the ‘self’; they were guided by the spirit of the tribe, which exists outside of themselves, not internal to themselves…

In the article ‘Primeval Managers’ Offer Modern Lesson in Success by Quinn Spitzer and Ron Evans write: One of the most important changes in the business world has gone unnoticed: the changing of the guard in business leadership with executives, such as; Packard at Hewlett-Packard, Morita at Sony, Walton at Wal-Mart, Walsh at G.E., just to name a few… Virtually an entire generation of top executives have left business after achieving legendary status… These ‘old guards’ are the last of a breed of executives who developed their management skills almost entirely in the workplace. They built businesses when management ‘science’ was still in its infancy. The executives of this period did not learn about business from– business schools, or management gurus, or management books… they learned and honed their business skills in the hard-knocks of a primitive ‘business jungle’: These were ‘primeval managers’… These executives were not just people of action, but people of thought– critical thought– and raw primeval instincts…

In the article Primal Experience in Business by Ben Gran writes: Every business can learn something from this idea of the customer’s ‘primeval’ experience… Most people don’t buy things because of rational, specific needs; most often they make their buying decisions based on emotional needs, i.e.; subtle signals and connections that make you feel better. It’s not your ‘rational brain’ that makes the decision as often as the ‘lizard brain’ that wants to feel safe, comforted, protected… Hence, you must ask: What is your business really selling, deep down? What is the ‘primeval’ experience that makes customers want to buy from you? Not every business’s ‘primeval’ experience is the same. You must know exactly what ‘you’ are offering customers on a ‘primeval’ level– talk to customers about why they buy… Forging these deep emotional connections with customers is the most effective form of business marketing… If you know why people buy and you ‘forge deep’ into the fundamental reasons, then you can design a customer experience that will tap directly into that ‘primeval’ experience…

In the article Super-Abundance, Art of Consumption Reduction by Annabel Martin writes: How many of you know the difference between; What you need? and; What you want? Where is the dividing line? and; Is that line the same for everyone? and; Is your business investing in the right things? Modern consumer psychology, left unchecked, unrestrained, is running amuck… In contrast our primeval ancestors would be horrified by the collection and hoarding of the vast amount of ‘stuff’ by modern-day relatives… Material wealth was not only impractical for the primitive ancestors, but it also brought with it a psychology unfitness for tribal life; to hoard or accumulate superfluous stuff would be considered unhealthy… Primitively; it’s thought that a preoccupation with a mundane stuff brings bad luck, sickness, lack of food…

There is much you can learn from the primeval ancestors in practical terms, and it starts by being absolutely clear about; What your needs really are; and; What they are not; The absolutes of primeval life were; responsible, living with nature, reciprocal exchange at the heart of every transaction… ‘Responsibility’ and ‘reciprocal exchange’ are ancient principles based on the idea that you should never take more than you need and when you do, then you are likely to disrupt a fine-tuned, natural balance, not only in the wider world around you but also within your own personal life… Living responsibly, not only helps to save the earth’s precious natural resources, but it also helps you to have power over limited finances and unhealthy material stuff… These ancient principles are not designed to make people suffer or go without; they are about making life simpler, enjoying what you have, and being absolutely firm in the face of the psychology of ‘abundance’, which has been designed over decades to make you want more ‘stuff ‘ then you absolutely need…

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In the article Leadership Secrets From The Ancients by Matthew Knight writes: There are certain elements of leadership that survive the centuries, that are classical. According to John Prevas; the parallels between great leaders of the ancient world and today is stunning… And while these features aren’t necessarily a guarantee of success in the modern world, they can provide a framework around which success can be built, for example:

  • Alexander the Great (356-323 BC): Alexander III of Macedon is the standard for leadership by which all others are measured, but– does he merit his place as a leadership icon? It’s questionable… On the one hand, Alexander had a capacity for intense focus and was willing to sacrifice friends, family and personal fortunes to reach the top. But ambition fueled by a massive ego eventually proved to be his undoing… Ancient quote: “I see no limits to what man of ability can accomplish“. Modern lesson: Youth is no barrier to success: Be bold and learn to focus on your task, but don’t let your ambition or ego cloud your judgment. Listen to the advice of those more experienced than yourself…
  • Xenophon (circa 435-circa 354 BC): Xenophon was student of the Athenian philosopher Socrates and ruled by consensus. An aristocrat by birth, Xenophon was a Greek military leader, but unlike Alexander the Great, Xenophon didn’t command by force of his personality, but sought to forge consensus. What makes Xenophon so unique as a leader is that he was not a soldier, he was a philosopher. He was elected by the soldiers to be the leader based on his ability to articulate a course of action for them… Ancient quote: “In life a leader must resign himself to expect anything and never count on anyone but himself”. Modern lesson: Tailor your message to your audience and be sensitive to the moods and opinions of the people you manage…
  • Augustus (63 BC-AD 14): Augustus laid the foundations for the prolonged success of the Roman Empire. Julius Caesar famously built the Roman Empire by conquest, but it was Augustus, his nephew and first Roman Emperor, who administered it and took it to its greatest heights… Augustus believed that the conquering achievements of Alexander the Great were actually easy when compared to the task of administering and building an empire.. Ancient quote: “That which has been done well enough has been done quickly enough”. Modern lesson: Augustus said: “Make haste slowly”: In other words, “move cautiously and thoughtfully in everything you do”…
  • Cleopatra (69 BC-30 BC): Ancient Egypt’s last pharaoh is often feted for her seductive beauty. But Cleopatra was also a woman of high intelligence, as evidenced by her grasp of several languages. She was a tenacious and resourceful leader who adopted a ‘hands-on’ approach to power; consolidating her position through civil war with her brother and sister (Ptolemy XIII and Arsinoe IV). She was a realist and wasn’t afraid to gamble on bringing in a more powerful ally when that was what the situation called for, as shown by her personal and political courtship of Julius Caesar and Rome. Ancient quote: Cleopatra’s attitude to power and life could be best summed up with the phrase: “Let it be done”. Modern lesson: Leaders who back up their god-given attributes with hard work and imagination can create a formidable business package…

In the primeval and ancient worlds, altruism is not driven by unconditional love but by ritualistic practice… According to Annabel Martin; primitive tribal life was not born simply out of the will of individuals wanting to do the right thing, just for the sake of doing the right thing… Translated in modern business terms, it means; when you put someone in an environment that is supportive, fair, harmonious… they will be inspired to contribute to that support, fairness, harmony… partly because they are encouraged to share what is given to them through gratitude, but also because if they don’t they risk losing it all…

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On the other hand,  when you put an individual in an environment that is unequal, discriminatory, then their inspiration quickly turns to resentment… According to Michael M. Crow; humans through remarkable manipulation of limited knowledge, brute force, and overwhelming arrogance, have shaped a world that in all likelihood is not sustainable, e.g.; standard of living, all the stuff, quality of life, inequalities… According to Dr. Eli Goldratt; Just stop doing the stupid stuff! The rest is genius!

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Currency Manipulation, Intervention– Big Deal with World Teetering on Currency War: Or, Red Herring In Trade Debate?

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It’s big deal and it can start a global ‘currency war’: Currency manipulation, also known as; currency intervention, or foreign exchange market intervention… According to some experts; the practice of currency manipulation is widespread among many countries and accounts for almost one-third of the world economy and more than two-thirds of global ‘current account’ surplus… According to Economic Policy Institute; currency manipulation by China, other countries… and are costing many other countries millions of jobs and a continuing (non-adjusting) trade deficit… However, China is not the worst offender, e.g.; Singapore is worse than China, Taiwan is worse than China, Switzerland and Japan are arguably worse than China…

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The relative value of currencies is an important factor in determining whether a country’s trade will have a deficit or surplus… A trade deficit is an economic measure of a negative balance of trade in which a country’s imports exceeds exports, and a trade surplus is a measure of a positive balance of trade in which a country’s exports exceeds imports… A trade deficit represents an outflow of domestic currency to foreign markets, whereas trade surplus represents an inflow of domestic currency from foreign markets… Trade deficits drains a country of jobs, factories, entire industries, national wealth, standard of living… whereas, trade surplus does the reverse, it increases jobs…

So what is currency manipulation? Currency manipulation occurs when countries sell their own currencies in the foreign exchange markets, usually against dollars, to keep their exchange rates weak and U.S. dollar strong. These countries thereby subsidize their exports and raise the price of their imports, sometimes as much as 30-40%. They strengthen their international competitive position, increase their trade surplus and generate domestic production and employment at the expense of other countries…

According to some experts; about 20 countries most notably China have engaged in such practices over the past decade at an annual rate that has averaged $1 trillion in recent years… It’s estimated the U.S. trade deficit has been several hundred billion dollars a year higher as a result and lost several millions of jobs over the decade… According to some experts; currency manipulation is by far the world’s most protectionist international economic policy in the 21st century, but neither the U.S. government nor the responsible international institutions; International Monetary Fund or World Trade Organization have mounted any effective response…

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According to Michael W. Klein; ‘currency manipulator’ is loaded with controversy… and, not so long ago, governments have decried U.S. monetary policy, e.g.;  according to Brazil’s Finance Minister; it’s U.S. monetary policy that contributes to weakening dollar and that can lead to ‘currency wars’… according to India’s Finance Minister; it’s U.S. ‘irresponsible monetary policy’… According to Avinash Persaud; blame foreigners for domestic woe is the sad but unsurprising cardinal rule of politics, followed by even the most ardent internationalist. So U.S. blames other countries for its own  mismanagement of fiscal, monetary policy; hence China and other nations are convicted of manipulating their exchange rates, and Asia for saving too much… On the other hand, one could argue that U.S. monetary policy correctly focused on the domestic economy’s weakness, but that’s not necessarily how it’s seen in other countries…

Exchange rates swing around for various reasons, e.g.; it may be related to economic performance, anticipation of future events, even the whims of markets… Fluctuations are part of the international spill-over effects of economic policy in an interconnected world… Spill-overs do create both challenges and opportunities… as when recovering foreign markets draw in imports from the rest of the world… Hence, a narrow focus on a single bilateral exchange rate may serve some political interests, but for full economic analysis, it demands a more nuanced view…

In the article Lose-Lose or Win-Win? by Buttonwood writes: Currency volatility is on the rise… According to David Woo; for many countries facing zero interest rates and binding fiscal constraints, the only realistic policy tool left at their disposal to stimulate growth is a weaker exchange rate… Since all currencies cannot decline simultaneously, it might be tempting to think this is a zero-sum game: But it’s possible to argue that it’s actually win-win for overall global economy, e.g.; by depreciating currencies, central banks reduce real interest rates and thus lower real rates that stimulate demand and investment… But according to Mr. Woo; currency manipulations are lose-lose, e.g.; it stimulates higher currency volatility, which increases risk and cost of cross-border transactions…

Specifically, higher ‘foreign exchange’ volatility means it costs more for companies to hedge; and that may cause them to focus more on their home markets than on exports, leading to a slowing in the growth of global trade… Also it means that higher volatility will discourage foreign direct investment (i.e., building of factories…). This makes it more expensive for countries with a ‘current account’ deficit to finance themselves… Hence, economic growth is more sluggish within a ‘currency war’ economic environment… Nevertheless, it’s probably true that a global environment in which countries feel that their neighbors are trying to steal a market by devaluating their currency is a world where co-operation is more difficult and one where barriers to global trade are more likely to be erected… Clearly, that is a lose-lose for all countries…

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In the article Currency Manipulation and Jobs Lost by Robert E. Scott writes: U.S. trade treaties and investment agreements have almost always resulted in growing U.S. trade deficits, job loss… This is important to keep in mind as negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) continue… and to understand that U. S. has a large and growing trade deficit with Japan and 10 other countries in the proposed TPP. This deficit has increased from $110.3 billion in 1997 to an estimated $261.7 billion in 2014. In addition, according to some; several members of proposed TPP deal are well-known currency manipulators, including; Malaysia, Singapore, and Japan. In fact, Japan is the world’s second largest currency manipulator behind China and responsible for a substantial share of the bloated U.S. global trade deficit… According to some; by eliminating currency manipulation, it’s estimated that this would reduce the U.S. global trade deficit by between $200 billion and $500 billion each year, hence increase the overall U.S. GDP by between $288 billion and $720 billion and create between 2.3 million and 5.8 million U.S. jobs…

Virtually every major country is seeking depreciation, or at least non-appreciation of its currency to strengthen its economy, create jobs… According to some experts; at least 20 countries have been intervening in foreign exchange markets and building-up reserves of more than $10 trillion… According to C. Fred Bergsten; these countries thereby subsidize exports and raise the price of their imports, sometimes by as much as 30-40%… Hence, they strengthen their international competitive positions, increase their trade surplus and generate domestic production and employment at expense of other countries… According to some; currency manipulation is the most distortive and protectionist monetary policy that has been deployed around the world in recent years. Hence it’s surprising and deeply disappointing that free-market enthusiasts defend the practice and reject practical remedies for countering it…

Currency manipulation or intervention bypasses the supposedly self-correcting natural supply/demand function of world currency markets… When currency exchanges work correctly and the exchange rate is set by the natural ebb and flow of markets, the world’s trade theoretically balances out… But if some countries seek to deliberately depreciate the value of their domestic currencies in order to stimulate their economy, and if other countries devalues their currency as well, then it’s no a win situation for all countries… When devaluations becomes more aggressive and disorderly, it creates great systemic risks world-wide… Then, U.S. dollar borrowers will struggle to find liquidity and many corporations will see their export markets evaporate… Also, emerging markets would be forced to raise interest rates to prevent their currencies from collapsing… Although currency depreciation or devaluation is a common occurrence in the foreign exchange market; the hallmark of a ‘currency war’ is when several countries, all simultaneously, engaged in the devaluation of their currency at the same time…

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A ‘currency war’ is also known by the less threatening term ‘competitive devaluation’, but no matter the name; it’s an economic battle to greatly cheapen a country’s currency compared to that of others, which presumably will promote exports, jobs… However, the real lesson of ‘currency wars’ is that they don’t normally produce desired results, i.e.; increased exports, jobs, growth… What they produce is extreme deflation, inflation, recession, depression, economic catastrophe… Currency wars are one of the most feared and important dynamics in the global financial system today: It’s not a term that is loosely bandied around by most monetary experts, but when 20 or more countries are either considering or have reduced interest rates or implemented other measures to ease their monetary policy: An important question must be asked: Is the world teetering on a currency war?

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Technology ‘Shock’– Too Much Too Fast– Danger of Technology Overload: Is It Re-Wiring Humanity…

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Technology; it’s changing the very essence of humanity; Internet, computers, smart phones, gadgets… are ubiquitous in life… According to Lee Siegel; the more advanced technology becomes the more it seems to control life, e.g.; you shop, work, play, seek love, search for information, communicate… Technology has radically changed nearly every level of human experience in an incredibly short amount of time… and for some the only reality is inside their heads… According to Michael D. Yapko; life has grown incredibly complicated, driven by many different forces… none more significant than technology; everyone wants their computers, smartphones, gadgets… to be faster, slimmer, easier to carry… You want smartphones to have service everywhere, anytime… to send, receive e-mail, text, images, and organize your day… You not only want these things now, but you expect them; then you howl when an Internet server ‘goes down’ for a short-time. Life is getting truly frightening…

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The impacts of satisfying society’s craving for faster, smaller, more gratifying and efficient technology have created numerous ethical dilemmas in an already polarized society, e.g.; the world possesses the ability to improve or destroy itself in a moment’s notice; disparity between the haves and the have-nots has become more apparent as technology advances; there is unparalleled potential to improve or exploit under-privilege individuals with the use of technology… Technology has enabled the business sector to overcome cultural, language, geographical barriers, creating a global economy… At the same time, critics highlight the unknown consequences of technology, including; lazy population, ambiguous legal implications, dependence, human isolation, widening the gap between economic classes, invasion of privacy, perils of mass destruction…

So is it time to unplug? Is it time to ditch the computers, smart phones, gadgets? Most people say; absolute not: These devices allow us to be more productive; they allow us to connect with others in meaningful ways that bring genuine happiness… That’s not to mention the fact that being separated from your gadgets can create feelings of anxiety. Being disconnected from other people and information updates cause many people distress… But if you really want to function at your best, unplug and take an occasional breaks from technology, and revisit the simple life… According to Dr. Joanne Cantor; gadgets have greatly enhanced your capabilities and shrunk the world in a positive way… but are these gadgets controlling us, or do we control them? It’s time to wake-up; you own the gadgets, they don’t own you, you need to set boundaries for– when, how, where, how much they are used…

In the book ‘Future Shock’ by Alvin Toffler he writes; society is undergoing an enormous structural change, a revolution from an industrial society to a super-industrial society… This change overwhelms many people, and the accelerated rate of technological and social change is leaving people disconnected, and suffering from ‘stress and disorientation’. Toffler uses the phrase ‘future shock’ as a way of describing the social paralysis induced by rapid technological change… and he popularized the term ‘information overload‘, which refers to the difficulty a person can have understanding an issue and making decisions caused by the presence of too much information… Alvin Toffler’s main thought is the fact that modern man feels ‘shock’ from rapid changes… Society is experiencing an increasing number of changes with an increasing rapidity, while many are losing the familiarity that old institutions once provided (e.g.; religion, family, national identity…).

U.S. Digital Consumer Report (February 2014) by Gary Price : The number of digital devices, gadgets… available to today’s consumers has exploded. As a result, today’s consumer is more connected than ever, with more access to and deeper engagement with content, brands, social groups… on average U.S. consumer own 4-digital devices, spends 60 hours a week consuming content across devices. Majority of U.S. households own high-definition televisions (83%), Internet-connected computers (80%), smartphones (65%), gaming consoles (46%)… Over past year, on average, consumers have increased their monthly time spent viewing time-shifted TV content by almost two hours…

Additionally over the past year, consumers have increased the average monthly time spent using the browser and/or apps on their smartphones by nearly 10 hours, which ranks second only to live television in the amount of time spent on media consumption activities… Today’s constantly connected consumer is active using social media anywhere they go. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of overall social media users say they use social media sites at least once a day via their computer, and almost half (47%) of smartphone owners visit social networks at least once a day… A surprising 40% of young adults ages 18-24 use social media in the bathroom, and more than half (56%) of adults ages 25-34 use social media at work…

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In the article Has Technology Changed Society by Kundan Pandey writes: Technology has led to a far better, comfortable, and easier life for people, globally. However, on the flip side, it has equally created innumerable problems: Mostly these problems have stemmed from misuse of technology. According to BF Skinner; it’s the human mind that develops technologies, and so it’s up to humans to decide how they should be used: for peril or advantage… Most areas of human existence have been impacted by technological changes; technology has refined most major business functions, e.g.; global trade has become faster, easier, and more reliable… It’s easier to book flights, railway tickets, and bus tickets from the comforts of your office or home… Banks and financial institutions have introduced online systems, which have made business and life much easier. Bill payment and account-related work is easily managed online… The ATM technology has made it possible to withdraw money at anytime of the day…

The impact of technology on business is phenomenal with unimaginable– innovation, life changing disruption, access to massive amounts of information, knowledge, learning… and the pace of technology development show no sign of slowing-down… However, there are some people who say that there are negative aspects of technology that can be very disturbing, e.g.; it changes the way we think, way we behave, way we communicate, way we interact with each other, way we learn, affects privacy, security, health… Moreover, lifestyle habits have changed drastically, e.g.; psychologists are frequently using the term, technology addiction to address certain issues in the lives of people who are constantly glued to their gadgets… Yes, technology gives the power to make a significant difference but it must be used wisely, instead of getting addicted to it…

In the article Technology: Changing Society Not Humanity by Garret Oden writes: Technology has given humans incredible opportunities to make life easier; it’s created a cultural renaissance, and we must learn how to adapt and apply it to everyday life, without changing humanity… yes, it has enriched humanity in many positive ways… However, it has taken a toll on societal interactions, e.g.; now you have the ability to ‘delete’ someone’s very existence, e.g.; on social networking sites, if for any reason you became angry with someone, you can just ‘delete’ them instead of showing some level of forgiveness, compassion, empathy… In the past, you would usually talk face-to-face with someone to solve differences, now you are just ‘deleting’ them out of frustration. Not only that but some people even create a false identity in order to find out how they are being perceived by the very person they just ‘deleted’… Yes, technology is changing society and social interaction, e.g.; giving people a tool that enables them to ‘delete’ the existence of another with a simple key stoke… may not be the best social behavior.

However, technology is a wonderful thing: In many ways it’s the reason we enjoy a high level of comfort in life; its improved workplaces, environments, living conditions for millions of people… it’s significantly improved life on the planet Earth for the better… But has reliance on technology gone too far? According to cjlevinson; just because technology is there, and it makes many thing much easier, that doesn’t mean you should over-rely on it such that you cannot think for yourself… What happens when the technology fails? Should any piece of technology be so important that you cannot function without it, for a day or two? It’s not just the way you use technology, but the way you obsess over it…

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Yes, technology is building bridges between people on opposite sides of the globe, but it’s also building strong walls between neighbors. Some people are surrounding themselves with modern technology while paying little attention to the needs of others. Others use technology to better understand their fellow human to overcome– physical distance, establishing relationships of mutual solidarity around the globe… Ultimately, mankind’s salvation does not lie in more or faster machines… According to the poet Thoreau; technology is just the ‘improved means to an unimproved end’… As long as we are at war with one another and with the world around, the ability to act faster and more effectively will not help anyone… According to Martin Luther King; increased technology clarifies mankind’s dilemma, namely; choice is not between non-violence and violence, but between non-violence and non-existence…

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Fun Factor in Workplace; Pays to Lighten-Up: Fun Workers are Productive Workers; Build a ‘Great’ Company…

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Fun in the workplace really matters: It’s an important business principle… According to Jonathan Fields; when speaking of fun its meaning should not be superficial, such as; ‘let’s have scooter races in the hallway’ (though that’s part of an equation), but much deeper, such as; ‘it makes everyone feel really good’; this type of fun keeps everyone working harder, more productively… hence, when you have fun at work, when your days are driven by fun, it does other massively powerful things, such as:

  • It infects the mood of those you work with and serve, with a similar sense of energy and fun…
  • It infuses the entire organization with energy, making it easier to recruit and keep talented, upbeat employees, and builds a ‘culture’ of fun…
  • It elevates the product/service you provide from a ‘blip’ on the radar to a ‘story’ that must be passed on with zest, creating a source of evangelistic, organic buzz…

According to David Koutsoukis; research shows that having fun in the workplace can significantly improve employees’– attitude, productivity, performance… and that really means: Happy Employees = Happy Customers = Better Bottom Line.

People rarely succeed unless they are having fun in what they are doing… According to Jack Welch; business today is about passion, winning, creating new things… and fun is a big element in many highly successful companies… According to research; the meaning of fun in the workplace depends heavily on diversity of the workplace, for example; millenials tend to like ‘fun’ in the workplace more than members of older generations. One survey found that up to 88% of millennials want– a fun and social work environment, compared to just 60% of boomers… According to Shana Lebowitz; today’s workplace has a highly diverse cultural environment and making work fun, productive experience for everyone is tricky… Having fun at work is not always appropriate and it certainly does not jive with everyone’s work style…

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 In the article Why Fun at Work Matters by Adrian Gostick and Scott Christopher write: If  employees are having fun, they’re going to work harder, stay longer, and take better care of the organization… An increasing body of research demonstrates that when leaders lighten-up and create a fun workplace, there is significant increase in level of employee trust, creativity, communication– leading to lower turnover, higher morale, stronger bottom line… However, it’s hard to believe that a warm and fuzzy subject such as; ‘fun’ could impact an organization’s success. But the remarkable case for fun in the workplace is growing with the most convincing numbers culled from more than a decade of research. According to ‘Great Place to Work Institute’; ‘great’ companies consistently earn much higher marks for having ‘fun’… Each year, the ‘Great Place to Work Institute’ asks tens of thousands of employees to rate their experience in their workplace with questions, such as; ‘Is this a fun place to work?’

The Fortune Magazine’s ‘100 Best Companies to Work For’ List is produced by the ‘Great Place to Work Institute’: Employees in companies that are denoted as ‘great’ responded overwhelmingly, an average of 81%, that they are working in a ‘fun’ environment: That’s a compelling statistic… Employees at the best companies are also having the best time. Whereas, at the ‘good’ companies only 62% say they are having fun… According to Amy Lyman; it’s a question that all companies should be asking their employees because it’s something that happens in great workplaces… In fact, it would be very unusual for a company to be among the ‘100 Best’ and not score well on the ‘fun’ question… In other words, when companies make a leap from ‘good’ to ‘great’ they must start by engaging ‘trust’; one corollary to developing strong bonds of trust is that people are able to also have a great deal of ‘fun’ in the workplace…

fun E1eppoQ4TNb1bS1aF9Sh1jl72eJkfbmt4t8yenImKBXEejxNn4ZJNZ2ss5Ku7CxtIn the article Down with Fun by Economist writes: Many companies are obsessed with ‘fun’, and fun at work is becoming a business in its own right…The cult of ‘fun’ is driven by three of the most popular management fads, namely; ’empowerment’, ‘engagement’ ‘creativity’… Many companies pride themselves on devolving power to front-line workers. But surveys show that only 20% of workers are ‘fully engaged with their job’, and even fewer are creative. Managers hope that ‘fun’ will magically make workers more engaged and creative, but the problem is, as soon as ‘fun’ becomes part of corporate strategy it ceases to be fun, and becomes its opposite and at best an empty shell and at worst a tiresome imposition… The most unpleasant thing about the fashion for ‘fun’ is that it’s mixed with a large dose of coercion… Behind the ‘fun’ façade there often lurks some crude management thinking; a desire to brand the company as better than its rivals, or a plan to boost productivity through team-building: If it’s fun, it needn’t be compulsory: Down with the merchants of fake fun…

In the article Have We Lost Ability to Have Fun at Work? by Ian Jones writes: When you work and never play, it seems you are not only dull, but also less productive… Research says; even small amount of consciously-created ‘fun’ at work can make huge difference to productivity and loyalty… According to U.S. National Institute for Play; some believe that play is the opposite of work, yet data shows that playful ways of work lead to more creative, adaptable workers, better teams… According to Therese Joyce; laughter and humor are vital to optimal human functioning; they provide relief from stress, and help you think and respond more creatively… Humor can help to regain a sense of control in your sometimes stressful, challenging surroundings. It gives you energy and builds important social support… Many work in demanding and accountable roles so there needs to be a circuit breaker that restores enjoyment and stimulates creative thinking. Spontaneity and fun should have its place in any workplace…

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In the article Contrived Workplace Fun Backfires by Marika Hill writes: Fun isn’t a one-size-fits-all… According to researchers; asking people what makes a fun workplace revealed some interesting results, e.g.;  just one in five people surveyed enjoyed ‘fun’ events organized by their workplace… According to Dr Barbara Plester; people don’t like being forced to have ‘fun’. So while the boss may have the best intentions, creating a fun workplace is far more complicated than simply hosting a night out for everyone… So what makes a genuinely fun workplace? It’s a workplace that balances 3-types of fun; ‘spontaneous’, ‘managed’, ‘task’…

Of the 3-types of fun; ‘spontaneous’, such as; banter, jokes… is the most common and is driven by the employees themselves. But once you talk about creating it (i.e., managed), it becomes very contrived… The third type and cited as the most important to employees is fun in doing the actual ‘tasks’… This means that for some workers doing their job is enough ‘fun’. These workers don’t want to be dragged away from their ‘tasks’, they just want to be left alone to do the work that they really enjoy… According to Paul Ford; genuine enjoyment and fun at work is more likely to come from a strong company culture, rather than one-off events… It’s when there is an informal but serious work ethic, where you have fun but also work really hard…

It pays to lighten up– you may think it’s hard to measure the return on investment of fun at work but a bevy of successful company leaders attest that fun is an essential component of business strategy… According to Adrian Gostick & Scott Christopher; if they’re laughing, they’re listening; whether you make a presentation to senior management, pitching to a sales prospect, trying to engage employees at a company meeting… great communicators know that a little humor (fun) goes a long way to creating an unforgettable message… According to Hodge-Cronin & Associates survey of 737 CEOs; 98% preferred job candidates with a sense of humor to those without… Another survey indicated; 84% of executives thought that employees with a sense of humor do better job than employees with little or no sense of humor…

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According to Kathleen Deggelman; having fun in business is a hot topic, and it’s easy to see why; since you are connected all the time, to everything, e.g.; text messaging, smart phones, iPads, laptops, social media, emails… all demanding attention, while trying to do the work that needs to be done… hence, workplaces can become very stressful… but experts says; if you lighten-up and have fun, there is much better chance that you  can  have  a  more– inspiring, engaging, successful workplace… and that drives innovation, team performance… According to Sam Walton; don’t take yourself so seriously, loosen-up, have fun and everyone around you will also loosen-up, and the workplace becomes much more– engaging, productive… Hence, if you are not having fun, you probably are not working in a successful business; and you probably will never become successful…

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Tsunami of Debt– World Is $200 Trillion in Debt and Growing: Corporate Dilemma; Pile of Debt, Hoard of Cash…

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Rising global debt is increasing the risk of another financial crisis… Debt is piling up around the world stifling global economic growth and heightening the risk of more defaults, market turmoil– global debt is about US $200 trillion… According to McKinsey Global Report; the world is bloated with debt, its unsustainable… it’s a huge destabilizing factor, especially when interest rates begin to rise… With a global population of about 7.3 billion people this works out at over US $27,200 of debt for every man, woman and child alive in the world today… Globally, scariest figure is China’s debt, which has quadrupled since 2007… According to ThomsonReuters study of over 1,400 companies; China has the world’s biggest corporate debt pile at US $16.1 trillion which is 160% of GDP and rising, and projected to climb 77% to US $28.8 trillion over next five years… and with a slowing economy this is potentially a great threat to global economic stability…

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According to Don Lee; world leaders are caught in a trap; more debt in the form of government and private spending is needed to stimulate today’s sluggish economies. Yet the higher the debt, the greater the danger that a pullback by creditors will trigger another financial crisis like the one in 2008… According to Olivier Blanchard; the post-crisis world is a world of high debt and it doesn’t take much for debt dynamics to go wrong… In the U.S. many companies are taking advantage of a widely used tax-avoidance maneuver and face ticking clock: According to Andrew Chang; the aggressively friendly debt market is allowing companies to borrow instead of repatriate cash… According to Moody’s  Analytics; some $950 billion in cash is held offshore by the more than 1,100 non-financial companies… That accounts for more than half of the record US $1.64 trillion in cash held by the companies at year-end…

McKinsey Global Institute Report on World Debt: A sobering look at how little the world appears to have learned from the global recession and just how dangerous levels of sovereign and consumer debt have become… If you thought debt levels were alarming in 2008, consider where they are today; the widely anticipated ‘de-leveraging’ that was expected to be a natural result of the recovery process simply hasn’t happened… Since 2007, global debt has not fallen, but has actually grown by US $57 trillion, raising the ratio of debt to GDP by 17 percentage points. Government debt accounts for just under half of the total, and is expected to continue to rise, reflecting a broad failure to rein in spending and embrace fiscal conservatism… In 2000, global debt (i.e.; based on 2013 constant exchange rates) was US $87 trillion. By 2007 it had reached US $142 trillion, and by second quarter of 2014 had reached US $199 trillion (an increase of 229% in just 14 years, or 286% of global GDP)… According to McKinsey; Japan’s debt to GDP ratio is excess of 500%, Spain is excess of 400%, China’s is nearly 300%, and U.S. is 269% of GDP… Clearly, this is not sustainable.

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Global Corporate Credit by Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services: Total amount of outstanding corporate debt, including; existing, refunded and new debt, is expected to swell to US $71 trillion by 2019, overall global credit risk is expected to be moderate… Analysts expect US $37 trillion of demand to come from refinancing requests, along with US $20 trillion in new issuance… On a regional basis, analysts conclude; Latin America continues to suffer from the downturn in commodity prices, restraining debt growth in that market… The Asia-Pacific region should experience faster corporate debt growth in Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia and especially India, which may more than double its total outstanding corporate debt to US $2.3 trillion over the next five years. Debt demand in the Eurozone may remain essentially flat, going from US $9.6 trillion in 2014 to US $9.7 trillion in 2019… The risks facing global corporate credit have evolved since Standard & Poor’s (S&P) published its first global borrowing forecast in 2012 when it estimated– new debt and refinancing at US $46 trillion through 2017… Then market confidence increased in 2013, partly boosting the S&P five-year demand projection to US $53 trillion… Now the current revised forecast is US $57 trillion for 2015-2019…

U.S. Working Capital Annual Report by REL/The Hackett Group and CFO Magazine: U.S. corporate debt level is ‘alarming’, which suggests that the old adage ‘cash king’ is being replaced by ‘debt is king’… The study of ‘working capital’ performance of nearly 1,000 of largest U.S. public companies found that they continue to take on ‘alarming’ amounts of debt. Debt rose by over 9% in 2014 to nearly US $4.6 trillion with companies leveraging low interest rates to fund increased investment activities… At the same time, companies made almost no improvement in ‘working capital’ management, and doing very little to generate cash internally by optimizing how they collect from customers, pay suppliers, manage inventory… Companies that doubled their debt or more since 2007 saw their ‘working capital’ performance worsen; while companies that decreased their debt over the same period saw a significant improvement… Cash on-hand decreased for the first time in a decade in 2014 largely due to expenditures on acquisitions… although it has risen by 74% since 2007 and currently it’s at US $932 billion, near its all-time high…

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In the article America’s Business Puzzle: Record Debt and Record Cash by Theo Francis and Ted Mann writes: Companies have been accumulating cash at a rapid clip; doubling it since 2007… Meanwhile, the debt taken on by non-financial companies reached a record US $9.6 trillion, up from US $6.5 trillion in 2007. This debt not only allows companies to keep profits untaxed overseas, it also generates interest that is used to generate tax deductions at the higher U.S. rate… According to Calcbench Research firm; among more than 240 companies disclosing increases in un-remitted foreign earnings in 2013, those with bigger increases tended to also see bigger increases in corporate debt. Hence by borrowing in their home country, companies can do things, such as; buy-back stock… without a tax hit to bring offshore cash to the parent company. Rising foreign cash holdings correspond  to a growing share of earnings derived from outside the borders as companies expand around the globe… Hence, low interest rates make it a feasible strategy to borrow against those untapped profits… According to Robert Sicina; since repatriation of earnings is an expensive proposition; borrowing against it is an alternative for businesses…

In the article Corporate Debt Rises To New Record by Jeff Cox writes: Corporate debt has intensified in 2014, with record levels of borrowing… According to Thomson Reuters; in 2014, companies have issued US $236.6 billion in investment-grade loans and the highest on record… According to Fed; corporate debt among non-financial companies has ballooned to US $13.6 trillion, increasing 7.1% in the fourth quarter… Companies have put all that debt– which has increased from about US $11 trillion during the darkest days of the financial crisis in late 2008– to a number of uses, such as; boost share prices through buybacks… This combination of hoarding cash while continuing to raise debt, and not invest in growth has spurred concern about whether companies are using the low-rate opportunity wisely.

In the article Watch Out for Corporate Debt Bomb by Brett Arends writes: U.S. companies borrow at record levels; that’s a disaster waiting to happen… For the past five years, U.S. corporations have been living in a financial paradise: Interest rates have been on the floor; Wages have been flat; Companies have been able to slash costs; Profits are at record levels; And, very little spent on new capital equipment… Here is a comparison, according to U.S. Federal Reserve; in 2007, at the peak of the last credit mania, U.S. non-financial corporations owed US $7.2 trillion, whereas today its US $9.6 trillion… All that talk you hear about how corporate balance sheets are in great shape is a bunch of hooey. Corporations borrowed US $993 billion just in the first quarter… Corporate debts have actually doubled since 1999. Yes during this time corporate assets have also gone up: Companies have built up some cash reserves (mostly offshore, to avoid taxes). But the overall picture is alarming; today U.S. non-financial corporations are carrying debts equal to 50% of their actual net worth. That is near record levels and far above historic averages…

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Companies are enjoying all the benefits of the recent economic boom… However, the addiction to debt and apathy toward true cash flow management is very disconcerting. According to Analisa DeHaro; today money is cheap, but there’s no question that interest rates will rise and when it happens, companies that are focused on optimizing ‘cash’ will be better positioned to– mitigate risk, fund investment, outperform peers… Clearly company debt is important; it’s healthy, it’s a natural precursor to create underlying conditions for growth, but too much debt can have opposite effect… According to Daniel Wagner; the same ‘witches brew’ that ignited past global recession still exist… it seems very few lessons learned… Current debt levels are unsustainable and with fewer policy options, it’s only matter of time until the next fiscal crisis, and with the stock markets and asset prices once again at frothy levels; seeds for the next debt crisis may have already been sown…

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Economic Sanctions– It’s a Paradox: Cost Business Billions of Dollars, People Suffer, Rarely Successful; Misguided, Defies Reality.

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What are economic sanctions? Whom are they deployed against? Do they work? For more than two millennia, countries have been attempting to influence one another’s behavior by imposing economic sanctions, and in most cases they have failed… U.S. and other countries uses sanctions in an effort to dissuade nations from taking undesirable actions, e.g.; supporting terrorism, proliferating weapons of mass destruction, violating human rights, trafficking in drugs, despoiling the environment, failure to adequately protect sea turtles… Economic sanctions are a form of punishment that one or more countries impose on another country (or other entities) with the purpose of changing behavior… According to Kim Elliott, Jeffrey Schott, and Gary Hufbauer; when examining 35 U.S. sanctions programs since 1973, the study estimates they have succeeded 23% of the time…

Hence most often, the reality of economic sanctions is that the only change that occurs is– the sanctioning country’s loss of business, and much suffering in the population of the sanctioned country, e.g.; in the case of Cuba the U.S. unilateral sanctions have failed: Castros remain in power and the Cuban government continues to pursue its particularly-thuggish form of authoritarian communism… and according to the ‘U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council’; approximately 4,500 companies from over 100 countries import to, export from, provide services to, or have investments within Cuba… The Cuban regime trades with almost everyone (e.g.; China, Canada, Europe, Brazil, Russia… for about $20 billion per year), and the suffering endured by the Cuban people. (Consider over 40 years of U.S. sanctions on Cuba, and the billions of dollars lost by U.S. business and the untold human suffering)… Then to argue that the economic sanctions somehow isolates these rogue regimes and change behavior, simply defies reality…

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Although there is little consensus among scholars and policy-makers on the use of the economic sanctions; It’s clear that economic sanctions do have a serious impact on business, i.e.; lost business revenues, and business compliance with sanctions… hence, as companies expand across global borders they must tread carefully in the area of economic sanctions… Failure to comply with sanctions programs can have serious legal, financial implications… In the U.S. alone penalties for individuals may include; criminal fines up to US$5 million and imprisonment up to 30 years and/or civil fines of US$1.1 million for each violation. A company may also be penalized for its employee’s actions with fines up to US$10 million… Sanctions have become defining feature in response to geopolitical rogue issues that are implemented primarily by developed countries, e.g.; U.S., Europe… The assumption is by demonizing, penalizing countries or persons– they change behavior, and become good world citizens… Critics say– sanctions are often poorly conceived and rarely successful in changing behavior… Supporters say– sanctions are an effective and essential foreign policy tool…

In the article Effectiveness and Ethics of Economic Sanctions by Marcus Boomen writes: Economic sanctions are an important feature of the modern economic, political, social landscape, lauded as the humanitarian alternative to war… They are implemented with stated intention of altering a target entity’s behavior so as to conform with international ethical norms. But analysis of the effectiveness and ethics of economic sanctions reveals they are a resounding failure… Hence, a Question: Why are sanctions used so frequently? Answer: Sanctions serve as a symbolic function; they signal to the target and world; what is, and is not, acceptable ethical behavior… but as perceived by the sanctioning nation(s)…

Economic sanctions are a country’s foreign policy tool, which have been used frequently for the last 20 years as a humane alternative to war. But, despite their prevalent use they have conclusively failed in stated purpose. Sanctions almost never succeed in stopping the unethical behavior of a target, particularly when enacted over long periods of time or through unilateral actions. Sanctions are not cost-free from an ethical perspective; comprehensive sanctions can cause great pain and suffering to innocent and weak in sanctioned country’s population… Although, in some cases, sanctions have mitigated the worst impacts on civilians; they still carry costs that are difficult to justify when weighed against their comparatively miserable efficacy. The only way economic sanctions make sense is when they are viewed as symbolic against unacceptable behavior; then arguably there is place for sanctions as means to shape public opinions and international norms…

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In the article Costs and Benefits of Economic Sanctions by Kimberly Ann Elliott writes: Since 1970, unilateral U.S. sanctions have achieved foreign policy goals in only 13% of the cases where they were imposed, and the negative effects that these repeated failures have on U.S. credibility… Research suggests that U.S. economic sanctions are costing U.S. $15 billion to $19 billion annually in potential exports. This translates to 200,000 or more jobs lost in the highly profitable export sector… While ‘benefits’ of sanctions are elusive, ‘costs’ often are not: Sanctions penalize many businesses in exporting trade, which are among the most sophisticated and productive in the economy…

As sanctions have expanded and proliferated, they have also led to increasing tensions between Western allies, as well as, trading partners around the world… Indeed, many business people claim that the effects of even limited unilateral sanctions go well beyond target sectors, and the effects linger long after they are lifted… firms from sanctioning countries come to be regarded as ‘unreliable suppliers’. Hence sanctioned countries may avoid buying from some exporters even when sanctions are not in place, thus giving firms in other countries a competitive advantage in those markets… Also, foreign firms may also design goods and technology out of their final products for fear of one day being caught-up in a sanction episode…

In the article Doing Business With The Enemy by William V. Hearnburg, Jr. writes: Most people are unaware that U. S. aggressively enforces a broad range of economic sanctions against over 10 countries, and more than 3,500 organizations and individuals. These sanctions prohibit individuals and companies from conducting any type of business with the targeted entities and subject violators to heavy civil and criminal penalties. Because of the sheer number of targeted entities, and the fact that connections among individuals, organizations and foreign governments may be shadowy and ill-defined, it’s very easy to do business with the enemy unknowingly and violate the law unwittingly…

Punishment for violations of sanctions can be severe: Civil fines range from $11,000 to $1 million for each violation. Civil fines may be imposed even if violation was committed unknowingly and with innocent intent. The majority of the fines imposed are most likely the result of corporations simply failing to recognize trade transactions involving a target country… Additionally, criminal penalties may be levied for willful violations and include fines from $50,000 to $10 million and imprisonment from 10 to 30 years. While sanctions may be an effective tool for the implementation of U.S. foreign policy, and a weapon in the war on terror, they can also be a trap for uninformed: it’s vitally important that business people, corporations take steps to ensure that they are not unknowingly doing business with the enemy…

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It’s a paradox of policymaking that economic sanctions are so often imposed in the pursuit of foreign policy objectives with so little apparent success… According to Joseph G. Gavin III; to better understand this paradox it’s useful to reexamine common perceptions of economic sanctions… the chief purpose of economic sanctions is to send signals and not, as is commonly perceived to exert economic leverage… A corollary is that pressures to impose economic sanctions are likely to endure despite the paucity of tangible results… Hence it’s important that policymakers recalculate balance of likely short-term gains against the harmful long-term effects of such policies on the competitiveness of U.S. business…

However sanctions will continue to be popular, and business interests are a secondary consideration, because economic issues cannot compete with government policy issues, at least in the short-term… Hence, for the business community to make progress in defended its position; it must refine its arguments beyond the simplistic ‘sanctions will not work’ arguments, and argue for a more convincing ‘cost-benefit’ approach… Business must document, as much as possible, the economic costs that fall on specific– industry sectors, markets, companies… the damage done to U.S. competitiveness, reputation, profitability… It’s time to move debate beyond whether sanctions work in traditional sense, to more realistically balance between; long-and short-term costs of sanctions… in order to achieve better awareness, balance of the collective interests of the nation in avoiding– frivolous, misguided, counter-productive applications of economic sanctions.

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  • According to Suzanne Nossel; isolating bad actors is mainstay of U.S. foreign policy; but it hasn’t worked… and in an increasingly connected global world, it’s less and less likely to make a difference…
  • According to Henry A. Kissinger; mandated sanctions are threatening to place U.S. policy in a straitjacket. Some 73 nations and over half the world’s population are subject to U.S. sanctions; fewer allies are following the U.S. lead…
  • According to Madeleine K. Albright; something must be done about proliferation of sanctions… Sanctions that have– no flexibility, no waiver authority are just blunt instruments; diplomacy requires some finesse…
  • According to Senator Richard Lugar; unilateral economic sanctions rarely succeed in altering the behavior of a country or countries against whom they are aimed; they do not always serve U.S. interests and may, in fact, inflict more harm on U.S. than on the target country…
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Thievery in Workplaces– Trillion Dollar Industry: Honesty in Deep Decline– Business Theft Becoming Epidemic…

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Theft in workplaces is epidemic and it’s devastating to business… According to Annual Retail Theft Survey: U.S. retailers stand to lose an average of 1.3% of sales through shrinkage, which translates to $54 billion per year (shrinkage is the loss of inventory attributed to factors, including; employee theft, shoplifting, administrative error, vendor fraud, damage goods, cashier errors…) Employee theft is the largest area of retail loss accounting for 37% of total shrinkage…  Shrinkage rates varies by retail segment, from a high of 1.8% of sales for small-format specialty retailers, down to 0.9% for large-format specialty, hospitality, leisure retailers… Theft of inventory (37%) and theft of cash (20%) are the largest internal employees-related areas of retail loss. The second biggest factor of store loss is administrative or bookkeeping errors at 23%, and shoplifting came in at fourth place at 13%…

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According to another study; U.S. retailers lose $45 billion annually to retail theft, and shoplifting alone accounts for $10 billion in losses… One-of-every 38 employees was apprehended for theft in 2014… Within just 25 large retailers; over 1.2 million shoplifters and dishonest employees were apprehended in 2014… Another survey estimated that the typical organization loses 5% of revenues each year to fraud, and if applied to the 2013 estimated Gross World Product, this translates to a potential projected global fraud loss of nearly $3.7 trillion… According to U. S. Chamber of Commerce; 75% of employees steal from workplaces and most do it repeatedly… Security experts say that as many as 30% of the average company’s employees steal, and another 60% will steal if given a motive and opportunity… Some estimates indicate that more than $600 billion is stolen annually, or roughly $4,500/employee. According to Security Magazine; employees theft statistics are showing an upward trend… According to Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) report; employees theft is the fastest growing crime in U.S

According to Jason Rueger; U.S. businesses lost around $40 billion in 2013 to retail theft, which is more than 1.3% of overall retail sales, making retail theft one of the biggest problems facing business retailers today… there are 4 main reasons, namely:

  • Customers: Shoplifting accounts for around 34% of retail loss in the U. S. Items are taken for personal use or resale, e.g.; health and beauty items, apparel, electronics… are products most vulnerable to this kind of theft…
  • Employees: Employees theft is almost as damaging as shoplifting, accounting for around 32% of retail loss in the U. S. There are various reasons that employees steal, e.g.; some give friends a deal (i.e., sweet hearting), others are dissatisfied with their employers/bosses, some simply steal because they want extra cash…
  • Suppliers/Contractors: Store suppliers/contractors are another source of theft, accounting for around 8% of retail loss. Business with more informal/less-organized contracts are especially susceptible to this kind of theft. Suppliers might overcharge, or charge for services never actually provided…
  • Management: Management and admin errors account for around 26% of retail loss, e.g.; mismanagement of inventory (i.e., orders too much product, orders the wrong products…), pricing items incorrectly…

In the article U.S. Retail Workers are No. 1 in Employee Theft by Anne Fisher writes: Light-fingered employees cost U.S. retail stores (and consumers) more than shoplifters do… According to Ernie Deyle; the four months from October through January are when stores see not just their biggest sales volume of the year, but also the most returns and exchanges, and unfortunately the same four months account for about half of all annual shrinkage… That shrinkage is made-up of missing goods from shoplifting, other causes… costs U.S. retailers about $42 billion a year, according to the latest ‘Global Retail Theft Barometer’: Shoppers pay the price for such theft and cost of mysteriously vanishing merchandise comes to $403 annually per U.S. household. Of course, retailers everywhere deal with shrinkage but there is one big difference between U.S. and rest of the world: Globally dishonest employees are about 28% of inventory losses, while shoplifters account for a markedly higher 39%… But not so in U.S., where employees theft is much higher and accounts for 43% of lost revenue… Are U.S. workers bigger thieves?

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Some stores get ripped-off more than others, e.g.; discounters– experience higher rates of employees theft than home improvement stores or supermarkets… Moreover, rather than simply walking-off with merchandize or pocket cash, most workers who steal do so in subtler ways, e.g.; usually it happens during checkout, when an associate manipulates a transaction to benefit themselves or someone else… or, employees might enter refunds, discounts, voided transactions into a cash register… or, they can also cancel transactions, modify prices, or say someone used a coupon when they didn’t… The interesting question, of course, is not so much, ‘how’ but ‘why’ do employees steal… Some reasons, include; hiring wrong employees, or lack of employee supervision, or easy sale of stolen items…  Others see it as cultural differences, e.g.; internationally there is more of an unwritten code that says; it’s not honorable to do something dishonest to an employer, whereas in U.S. there is a different mindset…

The Global Retail Theft Barometer (GRTB) Study: An annual survey that interviews 222 retailers in 24 countries representing $744 billion in sales in order to research the amount of shrinkage, theft in retail business… Report Summary: In 2013–2014, U.S. shrinkage rate decreased by 2 basis points to 1.48% of the region’s sales: Total shrinkage stood at $42 billion. North America recorded the highest shrinkage rate in the world, although it has highest concentration of retail stores, however, this region also spends much less on ‘loss prevention’ than other regions… Other Report findings:

  • Shrinkage Across Store Types: U.S. discounters (2.78%), pharmacies/drugstores (2.16%), and supermarkets/grocery retailers (1.38%) witnessed the highest shrink rates owing to shoplifting, dishonest employee theft, organized retail crime… and together with a low-level of ‘loss prevention’ spend. Almost all types of retail stores in U.S. are affected by dishonest employees theft and shoplifting… The lowest shrink rates are in department stores (1.11%), home improvement and gardening stores (1.10%), and apparel specialist retailers (0.84%)…
  • Shrinkage Sources: In 2013–2014, dishonest employees theft was the major reason for shrinkage in U.S. The proportion of shrinkage attributed to dishonest employees theft increased to 42.9%. Dishonest and fraudulent employees were responsible for $18.01 billion (by value) of shrinkage. Shoplifting is the second-largest source of retail shrinkage in U.S. In 2013–2014, it accounted for 37.4% ($15.70 billion, up from 34% in the previous year… Finally, administrative and non-crime losses, including; accounting mistakes, poor budgeting practices, pricing errors, and process failures specific to inbound and outbound inventory control accounted for 10.8% ($4.53 billion), down from 26%, in 2012…
  • Most-Stolen Items: Shoplifters and dishonest employees primarily targeted items that were easy to conceal and resell in the market, resulting in increased pilferage of accessories. In 2013, shoplifters preferred to steal fashion and mobile accessories over fashion clothing and mobile handsets, respectively. Other frequently pilfered products included; power tools, wines, cosmetic products…

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Is stealing becoming more acceptable in the workplace? Generally, when people think of theft or stealing they are referring to the act of physically taking property from someone else… In reality there are many ways that employees can steal from an organization; the basic definition of theft is the wrongful taking and carrying away of personal goods, property of another… However, the most common way for employees to steal is theft of ‘time’, and this includes; taking extra ‘time’ on breaks and lunches, using work ‘time’ for personal matters, simply wasting ‘time’ while at work, fraudulently changing ‘time’ sheets and expense reports… According to Michelle Boykins; most often you think of workplace theft as someone snatching money from a person’s wallet or purse… It can just as easily be an employee stealing office supplies or committing identity theft. However to chagrin of many employers, the workers guilty of the most grandiose theft frequently turn out to be those deemed to be highly trustworthy… They are employees that are given access to most sensitive systems, information that allow them to commit major fraud…

Employees who are caught stealing or who confess to it– give some interesting reasons, e.g.; in many cases it wasn’t because of a real financial motivation but the company made it to easy to do so… Some employees says they saw management helping themselves to whatever they wanted, so they assumed it was an ‘ok’ for them… There are many ways that workers can steal from employers. Some common ways are, e.g.; taking cash from cash registers, or stealing customer information, or helping themselves to products, or copying digital assets belonging to the company, or cheating when filling in time sheet…

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But does all this thievery represent a basic decline of honesty/morality in society? The almost-daily incidents of– business, government, law enforcement, celebrities, sports figures, church leaders… involved in questionable activities make it easier for ‘borderline’ employees to steal and to rationalize their actions… Also with significant growth of the part-time workforce it’s not uncommon to find that many workers have less loyalty to employers, hence they are more apt to take advantage of opportunities to steal…

But, no plan will eliminate business theft 100%: As the saying goes; ‘where there is a will, there is a way’. Business must send a strong signal to potential thieves that they are serious about security and loss prevention… business must show a deep commitment to prevent loss at every level with policies to prosecute theft where ever it occurs, and at all levels of management… Controlling theft is important to profitability and business cannot afford to ignore it… Hence, review your ‘loss prevention’ procedures, policies, systems… you can save your business a lot of money and grief… Remember; ounce of prevention is much better than a pound of cure: Be prepared!

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