What Will Happen When 'Job Lock' Ends?

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job-lock.jpgThere's one really interesting question raised by the freshly signed healthcare reform bill, but it hasn't been discussed much.

Once there's affordable insurance available through state-based exchanges for individuals and small companies in 2014, how many people will leave their jobs?

If the answer turns out to be "many," it could affect entrepreneurs in several important ways. First off, more worker turnover may hit their businesses, leaving owners to expend more effort recruiting and hanging onto employees. A recent Conference Board study hints this could happen, as job satisfaction levels are at record lows.

The next question--if more workers are leaving their jobs, what would they do next? Retire? Work for a more desirable company? Or perhaps legions of them will start their own businesses, creating more small-business competition. It could touch off an entrepreneurial explosion.

The dynamic could be extremely interesting to watch, and may put pressure on large companies with oppressive corporate cultures. If you're a nightmare place to work, once "job lock" ends, there could be mass departures and lost productivity at big companies, possibly creating an opening for many small businesses to move ahead. 

The pressure could also increase on businesses of all sizes to be a family-friendly, eco-friendly type of company to keep workers because now, hey, they don't have to stay for the healthcare anymore.

The White House notes this could also work in small companies' favor for hiring, as currently workers at big companies are loath to leave their cushy positions for a startup because of the benefits differential. Reform should lessen that difference, or make it unimportant since individuals will have more self-insurance choices.

Healthcare reform may bring new taxes and other burdens to small businesses, but it may also reshape the whole landscape of American work in ways that will benefit entrepreneurs. Who knows how many people are laying a three-year escape plan to leave the corporate world behind and start a business in 2014, once they have more healthcare options. 

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