Genuine Wealth - What Really Matters

SJF Advisory Service’s Beyond Paycheck-to-Paycheck report (currently being updated) describes the ways that innovative companies create and promote asset building opportunities for their employees through such initiatives as profit sharing, broad based stock options, and providing access to financial literacy or savings programs.   When we came across Bainbridge Graduate Institute Professor Mark Anielski’s writing on “genuine” wealth, it provided a potent reminder of what we meant by moving beyond paycheck-to-paycheck.  On one hand, we hope that employers can see their role in helping their employees become better stewards of their financial lives as they build wealth and move out of poverty.  But at a more philosophical level, our report echoes some of Anielski’s powerful themes.  For example, he writes that the etymology of the word “wealth” is “the condition of well-being.” True wealth, he concludes, is that which make life worthwhile, and encompasses both “productive work time” and “time for reflection and personal development.”   His piece Genuine Wealth and the Good Life goes on to explore parts of the world, such as the Emilia Romagna region in Italy, where a cooperative economic model supports over 15,000 business, and boasts one of the highest GDPs in Italy, and at the same time is “concerned with reciprocity, redistribution, equity, public welfare, strong relationships, social entrepreneurship and cooperative enterprise.”  Similarly, UNC Department of City and Regional Planning Professor Meenu Tewari showed how the Ludhiana region of India’s bicycle part, sewing machine, and woolen hosiery manufacturing firms create interdependencies that conserved capital and, despite being remotely located, could out-compete others to “dominate national markets in their sectors.”

As these international examples illustrate, innovative and competitive firms will be those that create interdependencies, engage employees, appropriately reward productivity, create opportunities for employees to set goals, and allow collaboration to achieve those goals. To return to Anielski’s thesis, moving beyond paycheck-to-paycheck should also mean that employers help give employees enough workplace security to pursue the other things outside of work that they value.