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Why Proper Pay Matters
In response to last week’s 2% raise post, commenter jmc had this to say:
I don’t understand the ideas of “demanding” and “accepting” things from your employer. You agreed to work for a certain wage, if you don’t want to work for that wage anymore, look for a new job.
Here’s where you’re wrong, jmc: You agreed to work for a certain starting wage, not a perpetual wage. This is why many employment ads list their pay as “Starting at $XX.XX/hr.” As your experience and knowledge of your job grows, so does your value to your employer. If your value goes up, doesn’t it make sense that they should properly compensate you for that increased value? That is where the “demanding things” that you mentioned comes from. If you are a quality, knowledgeable worker with a few years under your belt, you are much more valuable than someone walking in off the street. Your boss knows this. Turnover and training are expensive, and the company will be much better off long term by keeping quality employees around. It’s much cheaper to hand out a 5% raise than it is to hire someone else and wait a year for them to reach the same productivity and job knowledge levels.
Furthermore, every manager with half a brain knows that a happy employee is a productive employee. While raises do not offset any problems in the workplace that make for unhappy and unproductive employees, a complete lack of raises will in even the best of workplaces lead to unhappy, and therefor unproductive, employees. When employees say to their supervisor something like “I’m doing $10/hr worth of work,” you’ve got a real problem on your hands, and it just so happens that I’ve heard that phrase uttered quite a few times in my 4 years with this company.
On top of that, we mentioned inflation in the last post. As the cost of supplies, materials, product, and generally running the business goes up, a company raises it’s prices to compensate. It only makes sense that labor costs should be subject to inflationary increases as well, as employees are also consumers of the products and services every company churns out. I can’t find a link to it right now, but when Henry Ford doubled his employees’ wages, cut their schedule to 40 hours a week, and gave them two days off a week, he wrote a letter to his fellow industrialists suggesting that they do the same. Not only did he cite the increased productivity of a shorter work week and the higher skilled workers that he attracted with the increase in wages that we usually read about, he also brought up the fact that everyone’s employees are also their customers, and those employees need more time off and higher wages in order to purchase and enjoy the very products they are manufacturing day in and day out. Ford had a huge workforce; if he didn’t pay them enough to buy a Ford of their own, then who would?
Employment is a two-way street. Unless your building has a revolving door out front with a sign advising people not to let it hit them in the ass on the way out, employees are assets, just like anything else in the building, and as those assets appreciate in value, you have to pay for them properly.
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