Friday, August 11, 2006

Inhumane Workplace or Disingenuous Boss?

by Tom Bozzo

Odd piece here from Mike Ivey in the Capital Times business section. Chamberlain Research Consultants, which made waves during the battle over the Madison smoking ban by publishing a study suggesting counterintuitively that the city was narrowly divided over the issue (reality: probably not), is moving to a new office building on the near south side, and the boss is Darn Glad the sick leave ordinance didn't pass. Sharon Chamberlain's claim:
"I remember thinking I don't want to leave Madison but the sick leave ordinance would have added close to $100,000 annually to our costs," she said. "It would have killed us, trying to compete against people like Gallup, Harris or the other big research firms."
Well, I don't know what CRC's paid leave policy is — the one posted job listing on its website is silent on the subject of salary and benefits — though the implication is that it's ungenerous. (*) Recall that the Madison sick leave proposal would have allowed any form of paid leave to count towards the mandate, such that a newly hired employee of ours would be granted roughly twice the mandated leave overall — and so the sick leave mandate would have added exactly nothing to our costs.

An easier question is whether chiseling employees on leave really would help CRC compete with the likes of Gallup. Not for talent, if Gallup's workplace values page is to be believed:
When associates find their work and personal lives difficult to reconcile, not only do those individuals suffer, so does the company as a whole. Gallup provides associates with the support and flexibility needed to minimize the conflict between job requirements and family responsibilities. Full-time associates are offered a complete range of benefits and family leave options, and are generally given latitude in setting their work schedule. Gallup has twice been named one of America's "100 Best Companies for Working Mothers" by Working Mothers magazine. Gallup also ranks as the number-one consulting firm for "quality of life" and is the 16th "most prestigious firm" in the nation, according to a survey of more than 2,500 practicing consultants at top firms. (Source:
Somehow, I think sick leave is part of the package.


(*) Since leave benefits of some sort are de rigueur in professional employment, if CRC doesn't offer them to its employees, it would be expected to have to provide the equivalent utility in some other way — additional pay, other benefits, etc. — so the gross cost of the leave required by the mandate isn't the net economic cost to the employer.
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