Pay and Job Satisfaction

By Scot Herrick | Job Performance

May 21

Over on Hidden Mojo, Kareem offers up some commentary on The Best Way to Motivate Your People.

In it, he contends that “if your compensation is equitable, the best reward is NOT more money.”

This assumes that the compensation is equitable — and that is a difficult thing to show a person in their position. One has to rely on HR studies on compensation, including how your compensation stacks up to your competition for given positions — and most companies are not very willing to share those studies.

But if the compensation is equitable, I agree with Kareem — money in and of itself doesn’t motivate. But, it is often the reason stated for leaving.

When your work isn’t meaningful to you, you can usually stay, stick it out, and work to getting to a different position or project that will provide more meaningful work.

Where the money reason for leaving comes into play is this: the level of BS associated with the position is no longer worth the money the company is paying you.

Whether it is a poor manager, lousy politics in the office, the fear of being laid off, the bureaucracy associated with the things you need to make things happen, or the inability to bring about change, there is a level at which we say “This job is not worth the money I’m being paid.”

Kareem quotes Alfie Kohn and his research into what needs to be done to motivate people:

  • Pay people well
  • Pay people fairly
  • Then do everything possible to take money off people’s minds.

You do that, of course, by making the work challenging, enabling people to make decisions about their work, and moving obstacles out of the way.

Pay is a barometer that moves up and down based upon your engagement in the work you do. As we evaluate our position and start hearing ourselves say that money is the issue with the job, we should stop, back up a bit, and check to see if the pay issue is really a job satisfaction issue for the pay we get.

Then figure out what to do next.