Editorial | From Administrator State to Enabling State
By proving itself capable of putting the entire economy on perfusion, the state (NB : France) has returned to the center of the game during the containment. One might therefore be tempted to see it as the obvious answer to the debate on the fair sharing of value, symbolized by the yellow vest movement inf France, but which in fact refers to a purchasing power issue that all governments have faced since the promise of « work more to earn more ».
In France, there is a paradox that sharing equitable value remains difficult when the tools and incentives are there. As for the tools, they were already at the basis of General de Gaulle’s policy and are therefore as old as our Republic. Each one allows the company to involve its employees according to different and complementary objectives: participation by sharing profits, profit-sharing for performance, and employee shareholding for assets. All serve both sharing value but also sharing values, because by having their income partly linked to the good health of the company, employees gains additional motivation and meaning in their work.
It is therefore in the interest of companies to amplify these measures, particularly SMEs, which find it more difficult to be attractive than large groups. Why then do they remain relatively weak where they are not compulsory? And this despite the fact that incentives have been reinforced, even recently with the PACTE law which abolished the social package on participation and profit-sharing for all SMEs.
If the problem does not come from the tools, the will or the incentives, we must admit that it lies in the complexity of the system. Today, setting up a profit-sharing agreement or employee shareholding in a company is a difficult task. Although the Ministry of the Economy has set up standard profit-sharing and incentive agreements for small companies, employee savings schemes remain under-used.
The problem of fair value sharing therefore becomes a lack of interface between the company’s desire to better involve its employees and the government’s desire to raise the standard of living. The stakes are not low for the State, whose role has always been to regulate and control by laying down safeguards: it must now – without relinquishing its essential regulatory missions – fluidify and encourage by removing constraints.
At the heart of this revolution, the State has the means and the duty to simplify, modernize and even automate value sharing. Very concretely, the administration could, for example, take charge of calculating profit-sharing and distribute it among employees, since this calculation is based on data it already has but on the basis of a very complex formula for small companies; it would also be the role of the State to propose an ultra-simplified employee shareholding scheme, because companies that wish to involve their employees in their destiny are today obliged to mobilize external technical resources.
The « next world » cannot be built with yesterday’s solutions. In a country where public authorities already redistribute a lot, it would be a mistake to think that this answer would come from an umpteenth tax mechanism: if it is correct to say that the solution must come from the State, it is because the problem also comes from it. Not because it has not done enough, but on the contrary because it has done too much.
by Olivia Grégoire, MP and Vice-Chairwoman of the Finance Committee of the French Parliament