The following appeared in a memorandum sent by a vice-president of the Nadir Company to the company’s human resources department:
“Nadir does not need to adopt the costly ‘family-friendly’ programs that have been proposed, such as part-time work, work at home, and jobsharing. When these programs were made available at the Summit Company, the leader in its industry, only a small percentage of employees participated in them. Rather than adversely affecting our profitability by offering these programs, we should concentrate on offering extensive training that will enable employees to increase their productivity.”
Discuss how well reasoned . . . etc.
The memorandum of the vice-president of the Nadir Company argues that the Company should not implement ‘family-friendly’ programs because they are too expensive and are not successful. Instead, the Company should offer training courses to increase the productivity of the employees. The argument, however, relies on weak evidence and unsupported assumptions to reach this conclusion; therefore, it is seriously flawed.
First, the fact that only a small percentage of employees participated in a ‘family-friendly’ program at the Summit Company does not imply that such program was unsuccessful. Indeed, a predominant piece of information is missing to interpret this evidence, that is the percentage of employees with family over the total of employees. This evidence would support the conclusion of the argument only if the ratio between the number of employees with family that adopted the ‘family-friendly’ program and the total number of employees with family would be very low.
Besides the fact that the evidence does not prove that the program was unsuccessful at the Summit Company, the argument assumes that the same low success rate would be obtained at the Nadir Company without supporting this assumption. For example, it is possible that the Summit Company is based in a city where there are good services for employees with family, such as cheap and reliable kindergarten and schools offering afternoon service for working families. On the contrary, the Nadir Company might be based in a different city where services to support families with working parents are not as good as in Summit Company’s area. As a result, a ‘family-friendly’ program could be of much higher interest for Nadir’s employees than for Summit’s employees, resulting in a higher success rate.
Finally, even assuming that only a low fraction of Nadir’s employees would take advantage of part-time work, work at home and jobsharing, this does not mean that the program would result in a loss of profit for the company. It is indeed demonstrated that when parents are allowed to have flexible work conditions, they are more productive on the work that in absence of flexibility. Therefore, the costs of a ‘family-friendly’ program would be offset by the higher productivity of the employees. It is not clear why training would make the employees with family more productive than they are now.
In conclusion, the argument fails to demonstrate that ‘family-friendly’ program constitute only a cost for the Company that does not result in an increased productivity of its employee. The argument would be more thorough by showing that training is more effective than flexibility on the work to increased the productivity of employees with family.