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Maintaining health coverage is the right thing to do, and the smart business decision to make

BY Michael Johnsen

H-E-B pledged to not reduce employee work hours in an effort to avoid having to cover their healthcare last week. In contrast, other employers have been cutting their employee hours to avoid the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act provision that would require healthcare coverage, according to a report published in the San Antonio Express-News

And while some companies may be looking at ways to squeeze more out of their businesses, H-E-B, along with Walgreens and others, should be applauded for doing the right thing. 

Specifically, beginning Jan. 1, companies with at least 50 employees will be mandated to provide affordable health insurance to their full-time employees, defined as those employees who work 30-or-more hours per week. 

With regard to Walgreens, the company announced that it will provide more than 160,000 of its employees health insurance coverage through the "Live Well Benefits Store" — expanding health coverage choices for its employees, and for most cutting their out-of-picket expenditures. 

Make no mistake, maintaining and even expanding health insurance coverage is a sound business decision, with tangible business outcomes. According to a June 10 blog published by the Wall Street Journal, out of paying the fine for noncompliance, reducing the workforce to all part-time employees and expanding healthcare coverage for full-time employees, expanding coverage turned out to be the least expensive option. 

Counterintuitive? Not really. Not when you consider employee turnover and the customer service value associated with tenured employees. According to Cumberland Farms, a convenience store chain that similarly elected to maintain coverage for its employees, full-time employees stay three to four times longer as compared with part-timers. When turnover is high, customer satisfaction suffers.

According to a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics survey, 85% of full-time workers had access to employer-provided health coverage, compared to only 24% of part-time workers. Comprehensive employee benefits continue to be one of the primary ways that businesses stay competitive in recruiting top talent.

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A lesson to be learned from Barilla chairman’s remarks

BY Antoinette Alexander

Barilla, a leading Italian pasta brand, has become the subject of an international boycott after company chairman, Guido Barilla, made remarks during a radio interview that critics have characterized as disparaging gay people.

While everyone is entitled to having a personal opinion, this is lesson 101 on what not to say. If you want your brand to reflect your personal opinion — which you are, of course, entitled to — don’t be surprised if people who don’t share your opinion don’t want to share your brand experience either.

In response to the backlash, Barilla posted a statement on its Facebook page that reads: “At Barilla, we consider it our mission to treat our consumers and partners as our neighbors — with love and respect — and to deliver the very best products possible. We take this responsibility seriously and consider it a core part of who we are as a family-owned company. While we can’t undo recent remarks, we can apologize. To all of our friends, family, employees and partners that we have hurt or offended, we are deeply sorry.”

However, judging by the consumer comments posted on its Facebook page, the damage has been done.

One post reads: “I’m Italian, I’m gay, I’m married legally to a man, I have three adopted children. I had Barilla pasta for dinner last night. Today, tomorrow and forever more I will choose another brand of pasta. Good bye Barilla! You lose!!!”

Another post reads: “And we who disagree with the CEO comments, even as we uphold the value of free speech, are also very free to never purchase his product again while it serves to benefit his pocketbook. Plain and simple.”

And another post was a photo of a garbage can filled with unopened boxes of Barilla pasta.

This is going to cost Barilla big time, and it is unlikely that any marketing effort, social outreach or social media campaign will fix this.

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BD, WHO partner to reduce labor-related complications in developing world

BY Alaric DeArment

FRANKLIN LAKES, N.J. — Becton, Dickinson and Co. is partnering with the World Health Organization in an effort to address maternal and newborn mortality, BD said Friday.

The medical products company announced a commitment to develop and launch the Odon Device, an obstetrical instrument for assisting the delivery of newborns during circumstances of troublesome labor. Obstructed and prolonged labors are common causes of maternal and child mortality in developing countries, particularly for adolescent girls and young women. According to the United Nations Population Fund, 10 million women per year experience such serious pregnancy-related medical complications as bleeding, infection and trauma, and 260,000 maternal deaths occurred in 2012.

"The Odon Device offers a low-cost, simplified way to deliver babies and protect mothers when labor is prolonged," WHO director-general Margaret Chan said. "It promises to transfer life-saving capacity to rural health posts, which almost never have the facilities and staff to perform a C-section."

 

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