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How Healthcare Reform Will Change the Landscape of Employment Loyalty

By Patrick Cisler

Recently, a conversation left me lost in my thoughts about the future of career paths. My mother-in-law and I were discussing the pending impact of Health Care reform, and she struck me with something I hadn’t thought about. She said, “Regardless of what the policy ultimately states, everybody mandated to have healthcare insurance will profoundly change individual’s loyalty to their companies.” She went on to say that many people today remain with certain companies and in certain job roles because of the security they provide. This security largely comes in the form of benefits offered by the company, specifically healthcare insurance. As it becomes more expensive for employers to offer insurance, they will drop it. As more opportunities become available to obtain individual insurance, employers will see less of a need to provide it. Vice-versa, individuals that already have insurance may be less likely to accept any job offer because the need for security is no longer there. They can be pickier when it comes to company and career. Pensions are a dying breed, and most retirement plans these days are transferable. The many perks that once kept someone loyal to a certain company in the past will not do the same in the future. This is what I see happening as companies offer fewer benefits to retain talent.

There will be creative types and entrepreneurs at heart in all levels of an organization that are fearful to step out on their own and start a business because of their “security.” With that security blanket removed, they may now reach the tipping point to take that chance to venture out on their own. Other individuals who may be able to benefit multiple organizations with their talent and experience may step out on that limb by means of becoming a freelancer. I can even see those individuals on the ground floor that are fearful of going back to school or looking for new opportunities in other companies because again, they don’t want to lose their “security”. These examples all come from frequent conversations I have with friends and acquaintances who are afraid to change directions, further their development, or take a great idea to the market because “security” holds them in place.

Think about how the landscape of work will change. Not only do I think that talent will flow more freely from one organization to the next, but I also think organizations will be able to make better decisions about labor as well. An organization may have access to a larger pool of talented individuals because they are no longer tied to one company. There may not be as much stress to hire someone because the full plethora of benefits isn’t needed. As with any system-overhauling mandate, there are many consequences unintended and unforeseen. Much has contributed to the separation of employee and employer loyalties over the past few decades, some changes internal and employer-driven, while others have been system-wide changes such as with healthcare. The impact of this mandate is yet another event that will further this separation of loyalties.

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