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JAMA 100 Years Ago
October 10, 2012


Author Affiliations

JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer Reiling, Assistant Editor.

JAMA. 2012;308(14):1412. doi:10.1001/jama.308.14.1412-a

Human life is gradually becoming recognized as a business asset. This is a new fact in the development of the race. Life-insurance companies are realizing that they can increase their dividends faster by cutting down the death-rate than by increasing sales or by reducing expenses.

Employers of large numbers of human machines are realizing the surprising fact that, as a cold business proposition, it pays, not in sentiment but in dollars, to take good care of their employees. Business men are learning that well-fed, well-clothed, contented men and women, working in well-lighted, well-ventilated quarters and on schedules arranged in accordance with our modern knowledge of psychology and physiology, actually turn out more work and better work than underpaid, discontented help, working under uncomfortable and insanitary conditions. Therefore large corporations are spending money liberally in playgrounds, rest-rooms, libraries, gymnasiums, sanitary lunch-rooms, moving-picture shows, safety devices, ventilating systems and similar devices for the well-being and enjoyment of their employees. If one asks these men why they are doing these things, they will disclaim any charitable or philanthropic motives. “This isn't charity,” says one firm, “we want that clearly understood. This is simply good business management and common sense. A well man is of more use to us than a sick man. A happy, contented woman turns out more work and better work than an unhappy one. Therefore anything we can do to make the people who do our work at ease in mind and body we regard as good business management, just as we regard fire-insurance, improved machinery and labor-saving devices.”

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