Dragged to the Middle

I've been thinking about government regulation a lot lately. When a big portion of your business is regulated by the government, you tend to do that. This time, it was brought on by the new overtime exemption laws taking place later this year.

The principle of the law is to protect people, which is admirable. Make sure "folks" (as Obama calls us) get compensated fairly for a hard day's work.

What's not to love about that?

The government is updating laws that are more than 40 years old. The outdated law wasn't protecting people anymore like it was supposed to.

The problem with federal laws like that is that businesses across the US are vastly different. When you make a law that brings regressive or predatory companies to a minimum standard, it protects the employees of those companies. However, it can hurt the employees of progressive companies by enforcing a medium standard, bringing everyone into the middle.

For example, Pinnacle works very hard to make sure its employees are happy, well-compensated, and valued. One of the ways it does this is through discretionary paid time off. Salaried employees who are exempt from overtime can take as much time off as they want. The only thing we are concerned about is getting the job done. This enables employees to work extra hours one week in order to take extra time off the next week.

The employees that become non-exempt in December will likely not be able to do that anymore. They will lose one of the perks that they really like because our progressive company is being dragged to the middle.

I've also seen this with our clients. Many of our clients were using a satisfaction survey that gave them in-depth feedback about their individual patients. Then a few years ago, the government mandated they use a certain survey instead. They had to get rid of their superior tool in order to use the mediocre tool established by the government. They, too, were dragged to the middle.

I'm not sure what the answer is. I like the idea of protecting people. I wish we could trust the free market to protect people. All I know is that it's frustrating to get dragged back to the middle.