Political parties have invested heavily in these elections to increase widespread prosperity. However, the bill for this is largely placed with the business community. This means that the baby is thrown out with the bathwater, since it is the business community that can make a major contribution to our widespread prosperity. When politics and companies work together, society will benefit more.
Take parties such as the PvdA and D66; in their election manifestos they typically cite broad welfare themes such as equality, sustainability, training and job security. But in order to finance the higher costs of this ambition, they want to put an extra burden on the business community. At first sight, that choice can be defended, because someone has to pay the bill. The question is whether this is the most effective way.
Measure widespread prosperity
Unfortunately, the Central Planning Board is not yet allowing the broad prosperity to be reflected in the calculation of the election programs. In that case we could test the plans against the themes mentioned and gain insight into the consequences of the way in which they are financed. Without a conclusive model, there is a risk that politicians will pursue goals with means that achieve just the opposite. That is why ABN AMRO is working on a monitor that shows per business sector how they are performing in areas such as welfare, income, health, safety and sustainability.
The idea is that it is precisely the business community that can give substance to these broad themes. When the business community is burdened extra, this can be at the expense of these themes. For example, savings can have a negative effect on the workforce. And job insecurity is again related to burnout complaints and departure wishes, Frank Pot and Peter Smulders previously demonstrated in the economist magazine ESB. The question is what higher costs mean for investments in training, fair remuneration and innovations aimed at sustainable growth. The Central Planning Bureau states that investments in research and development decline during a crisis.
Involve the entrepreneur
There is also a great chance that the business community will voluntarily cooperate with the government on the broad welfare themes, if only out of self-interest. Those who do more to limit absenteeism, for example, will benefit from this. To give you an idea: the costs of work-stress-related absenteeism had already risen to more than 3 billion euros in 2018, according to TNO. If employers were to work on vitality, possibly with encouragement from the government, then according to health insurer CZ, every euro spent on this would earn them 1.70 euros, due to less turnover, lower absenteeism and a decrease in accidents. This form of investment, such as in building cleaning services, should be encouraged by the cabinet.
An additional advantage is that when an entrepreneur is involved in a measure or intervention, there is a greater chance that this measure will be embraced than when it is imposed. Especially with this issue. A straightforward technical solution does not work here. An adaptive approach is needed here, as Harvard professor of leadership Ronald Heifetz calls it. In order to really focus on broad prosperity, the mindset will have to change and for that it is necessary to jointly investigate what needs to be changed in order to achieve this.
It is better to jointly look for effective and targeted solutions for the long term, rather than pursuing costly goals that are negated elsewhere. Otherwise we will say that we consider well-being important in our society, but on balance we will hardly do anything about it.