Everyday Happiness: Trading Time for Money isn’t Good Enough
by Mehdi Kajbaf
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I have actively taken a pay cut in each of the last three jobs I’ve worked in, and never been more creative, motivated or happier. Small caveat, I am now self employed and expect to be making tonnes of money by years end, but money isn’t the point. I worked for two great companies, had two great bosses, fair pay and was on track for great success. The work was interesting and the people were great.
Why leave? The same reason many of your young, bright and hard working employees are thinking of leaving. It is stifling working in North America! The notion of trading time for money is outdated and limiting, particularly for skilled knowledge workers. Speaking for myself, I want to create value and be compensated fairly for that value, period.
The time/money, trade-off is convenient in its simplicity but it completely misses the mark in terms of motivating and inspiring people. The message that corporations are sending employees is that showing up and putting in your hours is as important as being productive.
Take two employees, the first one shows up 40 hours a week, dutifully completes all tasks on their list and gets along with the team. Solid, reliable and very much employable. Now consider the employee that gets all their work, done, is well liked and even comes up with an incredible innovation that saves the company thousands of dollars, but chooses to work from home regularly and often shows up late. In the typical organization, who is more likely to be in the bosses favor? My feeling is that most managers value predictability and loyalty to innovation, unless of course, it’s completely risk-free.
The need to control is devastating to bright and innovative people, and no amount of money can compensate for that. Unless it is absolutely necessary because of legitimate business constraints, why do we care when and where people work, what they wear or even what they are working on so long as it advances the mission of the business and creates value?
For all managers out there, recognize that there is so much more available from your workforce. That doesn’t mean they can work more hours, it just means they can create more value if you let them.
My story isn’t unique, I have spoken to hundreds of colleagues, particularly in the under 30 age group, that feel they could do much more, and want to do much more but they are held back. Those motivated to stay only because of the money are likely not the most inspired or engaged. Money is a hygiene factor, pay a fair wage, and then focus on what really matters to the people who are best positioned to create value in your company.
Mehdi Kajbaf is a Co-Founder at Matboard&More LLC and President of Organizational Effectiveness Solutions. He is an advocate for breaking conventions in workplace culture, to never stop questioning the status quo and looking beyond best practices. Organizational Effectiveness Solutions helps employees and managers with a wide range of workplace challenges including health and wellness, recruitment, change management and cultural transformations through partnerships with Shepell.FGI, Epic Software and Health Partners 4 Life. He can be reached via http://orgeffectiveness.ca.