"Equal pay." There's a simple statement that's so loaded it could go off any time now. At best a promise that everyone will be paid fairly and evenly for a job well done. At worst it's almost an oxymoron.
Compensation is supposed to be based on job performance and not tempered by such things as sex, race, or age. And usually there is a base rate of pay established for a particular job, factored around an expected baseline measurement of work performance. Do well at that job and one expects that bonuses and raises will be forthcoming, commensurate with one's progress.
But what about the Slacker? That worker who may start out turning over the expected base level performance only to slowly degrade work quality over time? They've often discovered that not enough scrutiny is being paid to how they're doing on the job. Or that the occasional reprimand is worth not pulling their full weight.
The Slacker also counts on the majority of those around them not being Slackers. Instead, the others are often worker bees only too happy to pick up the slack left by the Slacker without much thought as to why some tasks don't get done.
One of the most aggravating things about the Slacker is that they rarely lose pay for a job not well done. They may not get raises. And they may miss out on bonuses. But they also don't really care. The Slacker excels at just getting by — and whether that's gauged by job performance or their take-home pay, it really doesn't make any difference to them. On the contrary, it invites them to then complain about how they're underpaid and passed over for promotion.
Less pay for less work? Seems only fair and yet is not often (never?) the case. One person who's taking the Slacker to task or, at least, is questioning the system, is Dr. Todd Dewett, a professor of management at Wright State University. I caught his recent blogicle, The Laws of Gravity Apparently Do not Apply to Compensation..., over on the Fistful of Talent blog. Here's how it starts...
"Pay for performance is a lie. The premise is that if an employee, or group of employees, achieves results above some predetermined level, extra compensation will be awarded. There are many flavors of pay for performance from individual and group bonuses, profit sharing, gain sharing, spot rewards, etc. It is not a flawed idea per se, simply incomplete.
When does performance justify pay decreases? I agree that many organizations value performance. However, they do not truly walk the talk. Without exception, the implementation of pay for performance involves paying out for exceptional performance but never includes provisions for decreasing pay when performance falls beneath a particular level. Why not?"
For the rest of the piece, click on the link. Dr. Todd doesn't offer a solution (because there is no easy one), but he tosses the ball up in the air and invites you and the rest of the folks you work with who are putting in an honest day's work to knock it around yourself to see if some answers fall out.
— Marc Hershon
Got any Slacker stories you'd care to share? Comment away. And if we get enough feedback we may have to create a space for the Slacker among the Least Wanted!