Are Low Deductible Health Insurance Plans Really the Best Plan?

It seems like right now so many folks are paying attention to their actual health insurance for the first time! Turns out, when people are dying in a pandemic, we will finally pay attention to what kind of health insurance we have from our employer.

There are basically a few kinds of plans that most folks have in the U.S.:

– Low deductible plan – you pay more upfront, but if you get sick you pay very little in terms of bills overall.

– High deductible plan – you pay less out of your check on a weekly basis, but when you get sick you will end up paying a much larger portion of the bill.

– HSA plan – this plan is less used because it’s confusing but basically it’s a combination of you paying a portion to a savings account which helps you pay for normal healthcare expenses, but also has a high deductible safety net in case something major happens to you, you won’t go broke.

Most people have a bias towards low deductible health plans. Low deductible plans are chosen the most because we fear that what rarely happens. So, we pay a ton of money to have great healthcare coverage, but most of us will never come close to using the coverage we have. Few chose high deductible because we are scared something might happen and we don’t have the money to pay for it. Even fewer chose HSAs, even though it might be the better overall option, but again, we really fear the cost of something bad happens.

This is the basis of almost all insurance, fear.

We almost always choose the most coverage we can get, even when it costs us more in the short-term and long-term. We love safety. We are also, for the most part, really stupid when it comes to math and more specifically statistics. If we did understand basic statistics we would always choose the high deductible plan and put the weekly difference into a conservative investment portfolio. After a decade or two or three we would have this giant mountain of cash, at least about 99.6% of us would!

Fear is a powerful drug.

We buy car insurance and are given options like $250, $500, or $1000 deductible in case we get into an accident. Most of us will choose the lower amounts even those the vast majority of drivers never get into an accident. We buy flood insurance for our houses even when we aren’t in a flood plain because the one hundred year flood plain is a mile away from our house.

So, why am I talking about healthcare deductibles?

We are moving into a high unemployment environment. People are also going to be short on cash, so there’s a good chance when your next open enrollment happens you’ll have more people who will choose a high deductible, cheaper plans. In HR, this pains us greatly, because we want everyone to have the “best” insurance possible.

Why does HR want this? Because we deal with the fallout when someone chooses the high deductible insurance and then something happens and all of sudden it becomes ‘our’ problem to help this employee. So, to not have this pressure, just push everyone to a low deductible.

I’m telling you this is bad advice. HR is giving bad advice. Safe advice, but bad advice, based on math. Real math, not HR math.

 

Are you more productive working at home? #WFH

If you want and like working from home, your answer is “Yes!”

If you hate working at home and can’t wait to return to work, your answer is “No!”

The truth?

Some people can be productive anywhere. You could put them on the moon and they would find a way to get done what needs to get done. Many of us, need a great deal of structure and guidance, and proper motivation.

We have this giant Work from Home experiment going on right now and a lot of HR folks are pointing to this and going, “See! I told you it would work!” But, is it really working?

The problem is what most of us are doing right now isn’t truly working at home. If you are trying to do childcare to co-habitat with multiple people in a house all trying to do work, it’s not really what a normal work at home situation would be.

Pre-Covid most studies on Work at Home were done by folks who had a mission to get more people to work at home, so quite frankly, I think most of those studies are crap. They didn’t really set out to see what situation would be better, only that working from home is better.

One of the main issues we see with working from home is that your real workers, those ten percenters who put in the most work, put in even more when working from home which could lead to burnout of your best talent. So, you might see productivity gains, but it’s not equal across the board. Like most work, the vast amount of gains is coming from folks who already probably gave you the most!

I’m not a work from home hater by any means. I think it’s a great way to add some flexibility for those employees who need it and can actually make it work. To be very clear, that is not all of your employees. The vast majority will not be more productive at home. And those who love working at home the most might actually be your least productive.

So, should you allow your employees who can continue to work from home? I think during a pandemic the answer is yes! I think once this is all behind us, we have to look at productivity in a normal work from home environment and make those determinations on our own.

In the small sample size, I have with my own company I know there are folks who would kill it no matter where they were working, and I have some folks who better get ready to return to the office!

The key to working from home isn’t your ability to actually be able to work at home. It’s your ability to be as good or better working at home as you were working from the office, in a normal business environment. We are not in a normal business environment. So, you working at 40% compacity at home doesn’t mean you’ve proven anything.

So, during this great Work from Home experiment, do you think you are more productive, less productive, or about the same? Hit me in the comments and let me know what you think!

Would you choose to live at your job 24/7 for a month? These workers did!

40 employees of Braskem America in Marcus Hook, PA unanimously decided they would lock themselves in their plant for 28 straight days, so they could safely make N95 masks for healthcare workers. Day and night, they worked, ate meals with each other, and slept at the plant to ensure there would be no spread of the virus to the products they were making.

The workers spent 12-hour shifts making polypropylene and a non-woven fiber in N95 masks, hospital gowns, and sanitary wipes.

Braskem has given the workers “enhanced employee compensation” for their work.

They were provided an onsite kitchen and supplies to sustain them as they operated the manufacturing facilities in isolation, according to Braskem.

Workers got TV breaks and drive-by visits from family during the 28-day period.

You might be thinking to yourself, “Well, I would do the same thing!” Especially given that most of us have just spent a full month or more with our families in lockdown in our houses! And I believe many people would have sacrificed as these employees did for the betterment of the healthcare workers who desperately need this PPE.

But don’t kid yourself, I’m sure this was an emotional decision for many! It’s not like the workers of a manufacturing facility do this on a normal basis. Most probably don’t travel for work, so they see their family and friends every single day. Going a month without that contact had to really difficult! I don’t like going for three days without seeing my dog!

The HR person in me loves this story and also knows that somewhere out of this probably comes a wedding, or bad breakup, or a baby! You just don’t keep 40 people together for 28 straight days, day and night, and not have some stuff go down! If HR has taught me anything, it’s humans will be humans!

I know the reality of this situation is this company was doing what companies do. Because of a crisis, they have a very short-term opportunity to make some great money and in the process help healthcare workers, help their employees, and help the stakeholders of that organization. It’s a win-win-win all the way around. It doesn’t stop this being a great story and we need all of those we can get!

So, my question for you today is, would you be willing to spend 24/7, for a month with your co-workers and your co-workers only!? Working, eating, sleeping, side by side? Hit me in the comments!

I loved that one of the workers being interviewed said one of the things they took for granted was being able to work next to someone and sit down to eat next to someone and not have to be six feet apart or even worry about that. When they came out into the ‘real’ world they realized they took stuff like that for granted.

It’s not Unlimited PTO or Accrual! Both are flawed, but I have a Plan! (The Sackett PTO Plan!)

Okay, I promise, after this post, I’ll stop talking about this subject!

I will tell you when I started this conversation over a tweet my friend Matt Charney put out, and a subsequent viral LinkedIn post on the same subject, there are clearly two very opinionated sides to this issue!

Side Unlimited PTO (UPTO):

  • There’s nothing like the idea of being able to just take time off when you want and not having to worry if you have the ‘time’ or not saved.
  • Yes, we know the data, and it says on average people use less time, but that’s my choice.
  • If you work at a company with a great culture and leadership, this is the only way to go. It’s a beautiful day and I want to take my child out for a picnic, but oh, I only have five days left for the year, I better save those. That choice sucks.

Side Accrual:

  • UPTO folks are idiots that don’t understand this is a scam that benefits companies, not employees.
  • Accrual is better because if I decide to leave the company the company has to pay me the time that I’ve banked.
  • When I take accrued time off it feels earned, thus I don’t feel like I need to work while taking the time off.

The Facts about Paid Time Off (PTO):

  • Any PTO plan sucks if you work in a toxic culture where you feel stressed to take time off.
  • Unlimited PTO is a fallacy. No organization is going to let you take off the entire year of work paid and not fire you. Grow up.
  • If your reason for liking a plan is that it’s nice when you leave the organization. That plan is a broken benefit for the organization.
  • Every employee should feel comfortable to stay at home when they are sick. Meaning, they will get paid and not feel pressure to show up and risk getting others sick.
  • There is no perfect PTO plan because we all value our time differently.

What’s the better PTO Plan?

Here’s what we know. Making a statement like, “Why don’t we just act like adults” shows me you don’t have a clue about how complex this issue is. The pandemic basically killed the standard UPTO plans moving forward. “Oh great, you offer UPTO!? So, like during a pandemic you’re going to keep paying me fully for three months!?” Um, well, not exactly…

You can say Accrual is the way to go, but the vast majority of folks said the only real benefit for Accrual is that it’s a termination insurance policy. So, that doesn’t work either! If the goal of PTO is to make sure people take time off to recharge and be healthy, saving it for when you get fired isn’t a good plan!

Here’s the Sackett PTO Plan to save America:

  1. If you are sick with a communicable disease, you must stay home until you are released to come back to work by a medical professional. We all have the ability to use Teledocs now, this isn’t difficult. The company will continue your pay. If you can work from home and have the ability while at home recovering there is an expectation you will do what you can. (You’re an adult, right?)
  2. If you take care of someone else and they are sick and need your care the company will cover that cost of you staying home and taking care of them. Again, Teledoc, show me that this is real and we are all good, take care of your loved one.
  3. You must take three weeks of vacation per year, minimum based on your plan/organization/FTE status/etc., in increments you feel are necessary for your lifestyle. So, low end you get three weeks, high-end is up to organizations and your ability to negotiate.
  4. You will get “X” number of holidays paid for – let’s not get silly no one needs Arbor Day off, and yes, we’ll give you your birthday off paid.
  5. You will get automatically 2 weeks no-fault termination/leave pay, at a minimum based on your level of position, when you leave the organization. Whether we fire you or you decide to leave on your own, makes no difference. No reason to “save” our vacation time any longer.
  6. There is no carryover of vacation time from year to year. Want to take a month off to travel around Europe? Be a great performer and you shouldn’t have a problem.

Did we cover everything? Sick time is covered. We will force folks to take time off for wellness. You get paid holidays. You get money to leave. If you perform really well, you get flexibility.

I think this is a plan that I would feel like I’m being taken care of by my employer. Yes, it’s expensive, but so is finding and training great talent. Could someone take advantage of this plan? Yes, and I would fire them. For the record, that usually stops others from trying to take advantage.

Have a better PTO plan? Hit me in the comments!

Also – don’t forget to check out the HR Famous Podcast where Kris Dunn, Jessica Lee and I debate this topic. They got it wrong and I got it right!! Well, maybe…

Your “New” Most Valuable Employees!

What happens after you test positive for COVID-19, go through the illness and come out on the other side? Freedom! That’s what!

Like most viruses, once you have that virus your body builds up an immunity against it, and you are highly, like getting hit by lightening highly, unlikely to get the COVID again, no matter what you read on that red-state political site you read! Again, science.

This being the case, for the next 12-18 months, we are going to see some strange things happen socially and in our workplaces.

We are going to have employees who can come back to work in any situation and not have to worry about catching the virus, but can still pass it on to others if they aren’t still following sanitizing protocols. They can go to the movies, to the bar, out to eat, with almost no worry for themselves.

Maybe we’ll even give them a card they can show the police so these post-covids can gather together and without the worry of being arrested or disbanded. Or put make them wear a red letter on their clothes… We’ll watch them outside having fun as the rest of us who haven’t had the virus stay sheltered and isolated.

The reality is we would be naive to not understand the value of someone who has already had the virus and is now back to normal health-wise. We employees will be to do things right now, and guess what? You won’t be able to choose which employees you get in this capacity! It might be one of your best, or it might be one of the ones you wished you had fired.

These employees will be able to travel out to your clients. Go visit customers. Work on the shop floor next to each other and somewhat get their lives back to normal. Those who are pre-virus healthy will have to assist these folks from afar in the best way we can.

Think about the biggest dip-shit you have on staff right now. Now, imagine your biggest customer has this big project and they are telling you that you must have someone onsite come and meet with them, and don’t send anyone who can give us the COVID. Okay, great, we’ve got Marty who spends most days in the bathroom looking at Memes now being the face of the organization to our most valuable client.

Could happen. Is Marty ready? Are you ready? Do you even know which of your employees will be on this list? Are you tracking them and do you understand their importance?

Post-Covids will have their run of the world for a bit. They’ll be extremely valuable to every employer. While we might have high unemployment for a bit, can you imagine those forward-thinking companies who are out there hiring all the post-covids?

Who would have thought that a major skill in the modern workforce would be simply your ability to survive!?

My Response to Coronavirus (COVID-19) and other Comms You Don’t Want to Read!

No one cares!

I had an HR peer send me a note this past week. They were a little frustrated with all the COVID communications that have been coming out from everyone. She was a bit snippy with me. The basis of her message was like, “Stop it! We get it! You’re doing something! We are all doing something! Do I really need to know what you’re doing!?!”

Here’s the list of places I need to know what you’re doing in regards to COVID:

  • Hospitals and other medical facilities I might have to use. Tell me what I should do in case of…
  • Grocery stores – when the F is the toilet paper going to be back in stock!?
  • My work – Do you want to come in, stay home, am I getting paid, etc. (I don’t care if you’re paying your employees, that’s up to you and your employees. OH! Wait! You’re doing the humblebrag thing…okay, good for you, you’re paying your employees currently and are constantly evaluating the situation…)
  • Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video, Xfinity, etc. – we’re still good right because I’ve got 500 channels on cable and nothing is ON!!!!!!!!
  • diet Mt. Dew factory – I’m ready when you need me, just pick up the bat phone and I’m there. Need to keep the lines running No. Matter. What.

Seriously, is it just me, or did every organization in the free world lose their minds when it comes to communications, PR, and marketing over the last seven days!?!

I can just imagine the comms war rooms as everyone nitpicked every single word that was going to be used in the most important communication that would ever be sent in history of mankind, around what you were doing to ensure your customers dry cleaning didn’t fall through the cracks and you didn’t kill your employees to ensure said customer had clean, crisp shirts while sitting at home watching Love is Blind during the apocalypse!

My lawn service sent out communication! Thanks, Jimmy for letting me know you won’t lick the kids and old people while continuing my lawn service during these trying times.

The best/worst of this is the marketing that is happening right now. I sent out a tweet condemning the HR Tech world for their crappy marketing during this time and hundreds of people liked it and three people (all of whom had crappy marketing go out) said I wasn’t being fair and if we have products that can help, we should be letting people know right now.

Oh, that’s why you are giving a 20% discount with the coupon code #CoughFreeWorkFromHome for your work-from-home job board! I get it, you have a business to run and you need to sell your product. The problem is, your buyer (HR and TA pros) are in the biggest firefight of their life right now and your sales pitch looks cold and heartless, and the timing sucks. Give them a week and then pimp away.

But, all that being said I thought it was vital I inform all of you about my Coronavirus (COVID-19) plan:

Dear Readers, 

As a shared service that this community relies on daily, ‘we’ here at the Tim Sackett Project are deeply committed to the health and wellness of our readers during this time. We plan to keep you updated on our ongoing efforts to ensure the well-being of this community. 

All of our blog posts are currently open, and we do not expect a lapse in service, unless Tim drinks too much while working from home and misses a deadline, in which, we will guarantee to re-run some crappy post of his from four years ago. 

We are closely monitoring updates from the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Grammar Society of America, and local public health offices. If anything changes, we’ll immediately notify every single person in the world. 

What are ‘we’ doing:

– Increasing the frequency with which we clean our blog posts. Every time some reads a blog post, we quickly pull it down, scrub it clean of your dirty internet germs using a space-age disinfectant that is designed for internet use only. The normal reader should not see any difference in your reading experience. 

– All employees of the TSP are required to wear gloves while typing each blog post. 

– To ensure that ‘all’ of our employees of the TSP are fully taken care of during this challenging and trying time, we will be sending ‘all’ employees on a fully paid trip to the Cayman Islands upon clearance from the proper government agencies that it is once again safe to travel to the Cayman Islands. 

How to Keep Yourself Safe: 

– Wipe down and disinfect your keyboard before clicking on any TSP post or before reading said post. 

– Use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol or wash your hands until they bleed with soap before entering any hot tubs to read the TSP. 

– Consider gloves and face masks as an extreme preventative measure as you actually aren’t coming into contact with anything, except ideas, when reading a blog post. 

‘We’ will continue to keep you updated with thrice-daily emails. If you have any questions please forward them to tim@timsackett.com email address because it’s the one I don’t monitor. 

Momma always said, “Stupid is as stupid does”

Do you think we, Americans, will be able to self-quarantine?

I don’t. Let me give you two examples of why not:

  1. It’s this past Saturday. We are getting ready to hunker down at Casa de Sackett. Part of our nesting process is to get some projects done which means a quick trip to the Container Store to get some materials. The Container Store is very close to the Cheesecake Factory. In my mind, “No one is going to be out, let’s just slip into the Cheesecake and get the last supper in before the big shut in!” We arrive at the Cheesecake Factory to find a 30-minute wait to get in. A giant gathering of people inside around the host stand all squished together. Breathing on each other and acting like none of us are really sick.
  2. Pictures have been circulating (like the one below) from this past week in Florida as Spring Breakers are just out doing Spring Break stuff, during a global pandemic. By the way, similar pictures were spreading about 3-4 weeks ago from Italy before they had to shut down the entire country and start making death bed decisions on who gets care and who dies.

There is a line in the musical Hamilton from the second Cabinet Rap Battle where Hamilton says to Jefferson:

“You must be out of your god damn mind!”

Most of us, right now, are out of our god damn minds. The fact is the vast majority of us, around 97% will survive the 19 without much issue at all. So, we think what the hell, extra Spring Break suckers! I’m outta school!

The reality that will soon hit home is when we are attending virtual funerals for our Mom’s and Dads, and Grandparents, and aunts and uncles, the little boy down the street who has asthma but I thought it was a great idea to bring him a stuffed turtle from Clearwater Beach and kill him.

For all those folks who think the flu is worse and we are just overblowing this entire thing, answer me this – if I gave you one hundred Skittles in your hand and said, no, they taste great, only three of them will kill you, would you eat any of them?

Apparently I would, because I thought going to Cheesecake Factory for one last meal was important enough to put myself and my family at risk, and I’m the average American right now…

But god damn are those sweet potato fries are amazing!

See? We’re all Fucked! Keep safe out there my friends, and for the love of Saint Pete stay away from people! And stop buying all of the toilet paper!

Google Leading the Way on #COVID19 Gig Worker Response! #Coronavirus

Google has more contractors (gig workers) than actual full-time employees. Did you know this? I didn’t. Google employs roughly 120,000 contractors and has about 100,000 regular full-time employees. Welcome to 2020!

Here’s what most people don’t understand about the contracting world (it just happens to be my world at HRUTech.com!)

  • Most contractors (gig workers) want to make as much money as possible, as such, most will choose to take the highest dollar offer in lieu of medical insurance and paid time off (PTO). Some states require a certain amount of PTO.
  • Running a contract staffing firm, our contractors are our product. If our ‘product’ doesn’t work, we have zero revenue. So, it’s not like we can just have contractors stay home for 14 days and pay them their full-time wage. It’s simple economics, zero revenue in means no money to pay out, plus most large enterprise clients, like Google, are usually out 30-90 days in paying their contract staff invoices.
  • Of course, every contract and temp staffing firm wants to do what’s best. They also want to stay in business.

Google understands this simple dynamic and they stepped up big time this week in making this announcement:

“As we’re in a transition period in the U.S.—and to cover any gaps elsewhere in the world—Google is establishing a COVID-19 fund that will enable all our temporary staff and vendors, globally, to take paid sick leave if they have potential symptoms of COVID-19, or can’t come into work because they’re quarantined,” the post read.

Google relies on approximately 120,000 temps and contractors on top of its 100,000 full-time employees, and not all of them have paid sick leave currently. Google’s post seemed to indicate that the fund would cover expenses for those not already able to take sick leave under current employment arrangements.”

That message right there is coming from a huge place of understanding from Google! We rely incredibly on this pool of talent, our contractors, and we have to find a way to make sure that the suppliers of this talent are taken care of so they can take care of their employees.

Uber and Lyft also came out this week and told drivers that tested positive for COVID-19 they would also pay them their average week’s wage to stay home and not drive. Another giant cost for these companies, but when you rely on gig workers as your business model, you better find ways to take help these folks out when a crisis hits.

Most organizations don’t consider “Total Employment” when a crisis happens. They circle the wagons around their own FTEs and not much else. I’ve spoken to multiple giant enterprise HR leaders this past week and this concept wasn’t even a blip on their radar! They could care less about their contractors and their partners for talent when it comes to COVID-19.

This is ultimately a much bigger problem for these organizations. I preach constantly to organizational TA and HR leaders they should be owning all talent in their barn. Total employment (FTEs, Contractors, Temps, Consultants, etc.). This is who really gets your work done, and if you don’t have awareness of all aspects, you are truly missing the boat.

What do you think? Do you feel your organization should be paying attention to contract and temporary workers during this public health crisis?

4 Great Things About Your 401K Taking a Dump!

The stock market is in the crapper and everyone’s 401K took a hit that will take years to recover, so how can any of this be great!?!

Oh, just give me a minute to explain…

Yeah, it sucks! I mean panic in the streets sucks, I just lost my retirement condo in Boca sucks! I’m trying to make light of a bad financial situation. Oh wait, I kind of am.

The reality is we all put ourselves in this situation. We gambled. We put our money into mutual funds and 401Ks and other investment vehicles and we loved watching them gain money for the last ten years! Since the great recession, the S&P 500 has tripled! If you got in early, you’ve seen your entire retirement increase substantially from where it was.

Good news, bad news. It sucks we are all taking this hit, but we’ve had a great ride up! Plus, it will ride up again, for those who have a few years. For those who don’t, I’m very sorry, truly. It’s a great lesson for us all that as we get close to retirement, get the vast majority of your money out of the market and into much more conservative investments.

So, what about this nightmare do I think is great?

1. GenX lives! It’s too late for the Baby Boomers, they’re out. The Millennials thought they were on the cusp of taking over, well sorry, kids, Daddy isn’t leaving just yet! Thanks to the market fall, Gen X is here to stay for another decade and the Millennials looking to take over as leaders are just going to have to sit back and relax.

2. Retirement is Boring! I know you wanted to retire. It seems so great sitting around Florida watching your friends get older, sicker, and eventually die. Look, you get one run around this rock, why just stop, let’s keep this thing going! There isn’t one part of me that is looking forward to retirement. What am I going to do, sit home and watch crappy CBS cop shows? Nope, apparently, I’ll be getting a second job to help pay for the food bill with all my Gen Z kids at home that can’t find jobs.

3. Being Poor is a Great Diet Plan. Do you know no one has ever written a diet book about not having money and how it reduces your caloric intake? It seems like someone would have ‘scientifically’ picked up on that. Ugh, I lost most of my retirement in the stock market, now I have to stop going out for the nice 3,000 calorie dinners at the Applebee’s! America is way fat! LIKE WAAAAYYY FAT! We all need a diet. To feel a bit hungry again. We’ll all be tougher for it!

4. I’m buying great companies at a super discount! I’m a conservative gambler. I only like winning! Do you know how you win? Buy great, profitable companies, at 50% off and double your money in a shorter period of time! Now is not the time to be gun shy. This will be one of the top 2 or 3 buying opportunities in the history of the market!

I know, there is a portion of folks who will read this and think, “Tim’s an asshole!” How can he say this!?! He has no empathy! (Editor’s Note: Tim is an asshole.)

We all choose to react to tragedy in different ways. This sucks. This sucks for me and my family. This sucks for my business. This sucks for you. We can all agree on that. I also need to move on. To move forward. We did that after the great recession and we were stronger for it. We’ll do that again.

Also, Gen X Lives!

Should We Pay Sick Employees Who Have #COVID-19 #Coronavirus?

Yes. Would be the easy answer. The popular answer.

Let me share a little story and then we can really answer this question.

Local hotel in your city down by the local convention center. A national chain, but locally owned and operated. The husband and wife both work full time at this hotel. Every conference for the foreseeable future has been canceled at the local convention center. They went from almost full every week to under 25% full. One of their 150 employees just came down with COVID and now many others will as well. This employee wants to be paid for all 14 days, minimally, they have to be out of work.

Because of the 75% loss of business, the owners are seriously going to have to cut expenses to even stay open and escape bankruptcy. They care deeply for their staff. They consider their staff, family. Many have been with them for over twenty years. These are proud people.

United Airlines is going to have its business crushed as well. Turns out, people don’t want to fly on virus chambers during deadly outbreaks. Plus business travel is being curtailed at almost every organization. A big giant publicly-traded company that probably made billions last year in profit, when times were flying high and the economy was awesome. They could also have an employee come down with COVID-19.

Do you think both employers should pay sick leave for as many employees who need it, for as long as you need it? Just the local hotel? Just United Airlines?

Why?

Business Insider ran an article about how “brilliant” Trader Joe’s is for coming out and saying they’ll pay their employees to stay home until the virus symptoms are gone, flu, COVID, etc. It seems like the ‘right’ thing to do. You have sick employees and you want to protect them and your customers, and your brand, so pay them to stay home.

It’s an easy decision when you make 76% margin on 6 oz. of Organic Wasabi SeaFoam for $12.99. It seems ‘right’ (Editor’s Note: Tim has no idea if Trader Joe’s sells Organic Seafoam or their margins). Rich people buy overpriced, and quite tasty, products, great business model, well run, we’ve got the money, it’s the ‘right’ thing to do.

It’s not the “right” or “brilliant” thing to do for everyone. One organization decides to make that same decision and the entire company goes under. Or they can’t ever recover to the level they did and now they’re being sold to private equity who’s going to chop them up and sell the pieces. Brilliant business decisions are brilliant in very specific ways.

We all have stakeholders that these decisions will impact. Employees. Customers. Shareholders (F! The Shareholders, Tim!). Etc.

The reality is my grandmother and her pension might be one of the shareholders who are super concerned about being able to retire. Joe Plumber might have is retirement in his 401K that has a concern about these decisions. These decisions aren’t linear.

It’s easy to say pay all sick employees for as long as they need. Any moron can say that’s a “brilliant” business decision because it’s always going to be a popular business decision. The brilliant business decision, and maybe the most difficult one a leader will ever have to make, might be to not pay sick employees for their entire time they need to be off.

Each organization is going to have to make these decisions for all involved. It’s multi-dimensional and it’s complex. Before judging someone as being brilliant and an idiot, you would first have to understand each individual situation.

All that being said, we need to find ways to help our employees and their families out during times of crisis. That’s what the best organizations do. It’s not always just more money, more time off, it can be a thousand different things. The key is to have the conversations and be out in front with communications early, so employees aren’t having the additional stress of not knowing.