Monday, February 19, 2007

Energy: An Entitlement Under Fire?

A provacative story, entitled "Get Healthy or Else," is on the February 26, 2007 cover of Business Week. It's about employers that find it increasingly expensive to provide health insurance coverage in the face of double-digit annual cost increases. One company, Scotts Miracle-Gro of Ohio, is responding by pressuring, counselling, and coaching its employees to lose weight and quit smoking. Note that this is a corporate effort initiated at the very top of the company by the CEO. As you can imagine, there is a subtext to this story having to do with individual rights. There are legal challenges, so it's not yet clear that the Scotts example can be sustained for long.

Scotts, you see, is tired of throwing money at a problem that is already out of control. The alternate strategy is to focus on prevention. What a concept!

You would think that companies are more firmly within their rights to crack down on energy costs. After all, by attacking energy waste, a company focuses on its own assets, resources, and procedures. Be it health care or energy, the dollars at risk are not inconsequential. When you address habits (and that's the common ground between these two subjects), corporate leadership may make all the difference. If you read the Business Week article, you'll see how top leaders walk the plant floor to personally reinforce policy-- face-to-face, one employee at a time. Tackling energy waste requires this kind of leadership, too. You can find it in plants like Mercury Marine in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. There are many more examples at



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