Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Doing Good and Doing Well Are Not Mutually Exclusive

31.10.2011
We all know we should be doing things like participating in employer-matched 401K programs, exercising regularly and cutting back on french fries, yet most of us fail to do so.

Why is poor decision-making so prevalent in today's society? What role can the business community play in helping people make decisions that are more personally and socially beneficial?

These complex and far-reaching questions were the subject of lively discussion Friday at the University of Virginia during the McIntire School of Commerce's 2011 Fall Forum, "Cultivating Well-Being: The Necessary Role of Business Leaders, Researchers and Educators." The forum was held in Old Cabell Hall and presented by the McIntire School's Center for Growth Enterprises.

Expert Opinion

Kicking off the discussion was keynote speaker Punam Anand Keller, Charles Henry Jones Third Century Professor of Management at Dartmouth College's Tuck School of Business.

An internationally recognized expert in the areas of health promotion and financial literacy, she discussed not only the challenges of defining and quantifying well-being, but also of improving the dishearteningly low participation rates in corporate and public well-being programs. She outlined some of the methods she has developed for improving the success of such programs, including simplifying the instructions for opening a retirement account and showing employees a five-minute video featuring their colleagues discussing why they'd chosen to participate in a particular well-being program.

"You have to show people the benefits of engaging in certain behaviors," Keller said. "You have to tailor your marketing to their needs."

Keller challenged audience members to consider how, through their businesses, research or teaching, they might work to improve the well-being of their various relevant stakeholders.

Perhaps most significantly, Keller stressed the compatibility of profitability and practices that enhance employee and consumer well-being.

"Well-being is positively correlated with profitability," she said. "There's a direct relationship between employee and customer satisfaction and growth, profitability and consumer loyalty."

Big Picture

Keller's talk was followed by a panel discussion of academic and policy perspectives on well-being. The panel offered views on issues ranging from the question of free choice to the extent to which a government should make moral judgments on behalf of its citizens.

Panelist Dogan Eroglu, associate director for communication science at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pointed out the degree to which personal health decisions – such as smoking or eating an unhealthful diet – affect the entire society.

"Health is not 'somebody else's business,'" he said. "Business must work with society to help solve problems that impact society."

Commenting on a discussion of the threat of government paternalism, Josh Wright, acting director of the Office of Financial Education and Financial Access in the U.S. Department of the Treasury, suggested that there is no such thing as free choice.

"Whether government- or market-influenced, all choices are biased in some way," he said. "There's no need to mandate behaviors, but why not help to structure people's decisions? Why not have people default into positive programs, such as savings plans?"

The panel also discussed the contentious issue of morality in the policy-making processes of business and government leaders. Eroglu pointed out the complexity of the issue: Whether or not policy decisions are cast in moral terms, he said, "they may prove to have enormous moral and social consequences."

Business Leaders

The forum closed with a panel discussion of executive perspectives on well-being, focusing largely on the relationship between business practices that enhance the well-being of employees and customers, and growth and profitability. Agreeing that such business practices undoubtedly have a positive impact on the bottom line, the panelists went on to discuss particular ways of enacting and improving them.

Dianne Morse Houghton, chief operating officer of New Leaders and a 1982 McIntire graduate, stressed the benefits of investing in employees and creating the most positive possible workplace environment. "Never have a doubt that creating an environment where people can do their best work is the best thing for the bottom line," she told the audience.

Andy Schoonover, a 2001 McIntire graduate and chief executive officer of Valued Relationships Inc., agreed, pointing out that his company's employment practices have led to remarkably low rates of turnover and continued growth within a flat industry. "There's a natural connection between treating employees well and return on investment," he said.

Taking a slightly different tack, Jerry Ng, president and chief executive officer of Indonesia's Bank Tabungan Pensiunan Nasional – which has been growing at a 40 percent annual rate – stressed the business benefits of creating an organization that is truly and broadly beneficial to its customers.

BTPN, which serves a largely low-income, elderly clientele, offers not only caring customer service, but also superb auxiliary services, including free medical clinics in its bank branches; seminars on living healthy physical, spiritual and social lives; and courses in financial management. Engaging in such well-being-enhancing practices, Ng said, "is not only philosophically good, it creates competitive advantages."

McIntire Dean Carl Zeithaml, who moderated the panel, commented on the common-sense nature of many of the most effective well-being-enhancing practices. Such practices, he noted, involved creativity, but not complexity.

"There are simple ways to make a big difference," he said.

Jim Travisano | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.virginia.edu

More articles from Business and Finance:

nachricht Mathematical confirmation: Rewiring financial networks reduces systemic risk
22.06.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht Frugal Innovations: when less is more
19.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Arbeitswirtschaft und Organisation IAO

All articles from Business and Finance >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A Map of the Cell’s Power Station

18.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form

18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet

18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>