What You Need to Do to Take the Issue of Money Off the Table

Compensation Café and Compensation Force founder (and TLNT contributor) Ann Bares recently ran a survey looking into what level of pay (or pay increase) would be needed to “take the issue of pay off the table.”

This is a highly complex but critical topic. Until a fair and appropriate base compensation is paid, employees will not see recognition and rewards as what they are meant to be – a celebration of the “extra.”

Ann reported the results of her survey, along with her “(very) initial thoughts”:

What it requires to ‘take the issue of money off the table’ – let’s call it the pay angst factor – like reward fairness, is a complicated, murky and highly personal thing. It is also a relative thing, influenced not only by external and internal comparisons and living expenses, but also by the overall reward package in which the base wage resides, and by the work experience itself.”

3 things you should do with your workers

Truer words could not be spoken. Like recognition and rewards, perception of “fair pay” is highly individual. If your goal is to pay enough to “take money off the table,” you’re starting from the wrong point.


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  1. Don’t look to pay employees the least you can get away with (tempting for many in this economic environment). Employees know what they are worth. Pay them fairly based on their efforts and contributions to your organization’s success.
  2. Have frank and honest conversations with your employees about their pay. This is an issue often skirted over. One way to take the issue of pay off the table is to stop trying to hide it under the table.
  3. Get over the mindset “but that’s what I pay them for” and recognize and reward employees frequently for demonstrating your values and contributing to achieving your strategic objectives. After all, research shows 78 percent of employees say being recognized motivates them in their job and another 69 percent say they would work harder if their efforts were better recognized.

Check out the survey results, then come back and tell me how high the “pay angst factor” is in your organization.

You can find more from Derek Irvine on his Recognize This! blog.

Derek Irvine is one of the world’s foremost experts on employee recognition and engagement, helping business leaders set a higher vision and ambition for their company culture. As the Vice President of Client Strategy and Consulting at Globoforce, Derek helps clients — including some of world’s most admired companies such as Proctor and Gamble, Intuit, KPMG, and Thomson Reuters — leverage recognition strategies and best practices to better manage company culture, elevate employee engagement, increase retention, and improve the bottom line. He's also a renowned speaker and co-author of Winning with a Culture of Recognition. Contact him at irvine@globoforce.com.


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