Health care reform presents challenges, offers opportunities to local business.

Small business owner Basil Bernard (EMBA ’05), president of Apricot Office Supplies & Furniture Inc./Office Furniture USA, wants to attract the best possible employees and knows that “garnering good talent means meeting their expectation that they will be well compensated. Health insurance is part of that.”

Basil Bernard
Basil Bernard

Academic research bears out Bernard’s perception about the importance of compensation beyond salaries according to Meredith Burnett, who teaches human resources management courses in the College of Business Administration at Florida International University (FIU). Over a four-year period, she collected data on senior management students at University of Maryland, Morgan State University, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and FIU, then followed up with them a year later, after they’d joined the workforce.

Health benefits tied to health of companies.

Meredith Burnett
Meredith Burnett

“Among many questions, we asked about such benefits as retirement plans, signing bonuses, stock options, profit sharing and reimbursement for moving expenses,” said Burnett, whose research has yielded two publications with a third underway, all written with two colleagues. “We found that the degree to which people were satisfied with the value and number of the benefits they received was associated with the depth of their commitment to the organization.”

Yet, at a time when the recession has put more potential employees on the market, the skyrocketing cost of health insurance has diminished the ability of potential employers to offer the kind of generous benefits capable workers want. That’s part of why Bernard is watching the current health reform efforts closely.

“It’s just chatter now, until decisions are made,” said Bernard, who serves on the college’s Executive MBA Advisory Board and was recently interviewed by The Miami Herald on the subject. “Health insurance can’t be a political football because people’s lives are at stake, but no matter the specifics, the legislation has to rein in costs.”

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