When Jobs Disappear, The Ultimate Question May Be: What Will We Do To Take Care of Human Need?


It’s true, and obvious. A business has to make a profit. The bigger the profit, the better for the business. But, a complete absence of a profit means ultimate doom for a business.

Businesses will always follow the impulse to cut costs and replace expensive outgo in order to make a profit, and to, whenever possible, maximize profit.

So, when an opportunity knocks to cut expenses, thus possibly elevating profits, a business’ first impulse will be to “sign me up.”

Now, some businesses will be more attentive to, more concerned for, their employees in this process, while others are seemingly oblivious to the human toll.

And, yes, out and out greed can result in devastating results for the people effected. But even less greedy steps to save money can ultimately have such devastating effects also.

Ultimately, if a business can cut a wage, a full salary – if a person can be replaced by a less-costly alternative, then the person/employee is genuinely in jeopardy.

There are many business practices that demonstrate this reality. Such practices as outsourcing and automation are really indications that a business has found another way to cut costs, and protect or maximize profits

In other words, if a job that is done can be done in a cheaper way, with a different person, or a robot or new software, the person/employee is expendable. End of discussion.

And, if a company says, “we will protect out people,” then that company may face a loss of customers. Because – and this really is true – customers will almost always go with the less expensive alternative.

I do. Don’t you?

If I can buy a book from Amazon, and get if for less than I could at a physical bookstore, then that is what I do. And I don’t consider the loss of jobs at the bookstore when I make my purchase.

I have to make my money go farther. I have to maximize my personal bottom line.

Now, here is the ever-more-acknowledged reality: not today, and not tomorrow, but a few days after tomorrow, we are going to see massive numbers of jobs disappear to automation – to robots and software.

What will we do then to take care of human need?

Rise of the RobotsThis is pretty much the issue raised in the book Rise of the Robots, winner of the 2015 Financial Times & McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award and Top Business Book of 2015 at Forbes.

I know I have already written quite a few posts prompted by this book. But it’s major premise, which I think I have accurately captured in this post, is one I can’t shake.

When a company is out of money, there will be fallout for people. You want exhibit A this month? – Flint, Michigan was out of money, and an emergency manager made disastrous decisions regarding the cost of water. Did he intend human harm? Surely not. But human harm was indeed the result of a decision made arising out of the need to cut costs; to save money.

When jobs disappear, the ultimate question may be: what will we do to take care of human need?

One thought on “When Jobs Disappear, The Ultimate Question May Be: What Will We Do To Take Care of Human Need?

  1. Randy, Thanks.

    What is the name of the book and the management concept that Interstate Battery and Container store use to take such good care of their employees? Tom Sent from my iPhone

    >

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