Mykkah Herner, M.A., CCP, PayScale
Last year I benchmarked my cat after she had kept me up at night. Recently, something similar happened. She had been pawing at me all night, concerned she wasn’t being compensated appropriately for the challenging tasks of (a) providing companionship, (b) cuddling with me when the weather is super cold, and (c) encouraging my physical activity.
By 3 AM or so, I knew we’d probably need to renegotiate the terms of our relationship. I prepared for my side of the “conversation” by asking myself a few key questions.
1. Where else might my kitty’s services be in demand? Where would I recruit or lose talent for her (very important) kitty position?
Ashes has experience being a cat in San Diego, Seattle, New York, Oakland, and Auburn, Washington. As a very versatile employee, she believes she’s indispensable. That said, her duties could be performed by cats nationwide.
2. Besides regular meals and warm, dry shelter, what do I have to offer Ashes?
As an “employer” I offer a small and nurturing work environment with plenty of downtime. Ashes only has to satisfy me, and she doesn’t have to compete too much for my attention either, as I only have one other cat. Some kitties would find this environment preferable to say, being a member of a snuggle express car, expected to offer comfort to strangers in stressful workplaces. (Not that I’d care to deny anyone a cat snuggle.)
3. What’s my compensation philosophy?
Considering the number of available cat candidates and my above-average kitty worker environment, I was content to meet the market, rather than exceed it. Apparently, however, Ashes thought she could do better—as she strongly implied, via claw in my beard.
A few things became apparent to me at this point:
- Compensation mattered a lot to my high-performing kitty.
- The success of my kitty compensation strategy would depend on how well I communicated the plan to my cat. If I communicated it well, she’d be super thrilled with her extra can of wet food once a month. If I communicated it poorly, it wouldn’t matter how many cans of wet food she received, she’d still keep me up at night.
- It would do me no good to get miffed at Ashes for insisting on these highly inconvenient negotiations. She has her needs, after all.
Ultimately, I think Ashes is an excellent negotiator, advocating well for herself while balancing the goals of her owner/employer. I feel pretty confident that in the coming nights she and I will come to an agreement on the appropriate compensation strategy for the various parts of her budding kitty empire.
Learn how to benchmark compensation for your employees (or cats) with this easy guide: How to Perform Compensation Benchmarking & Set Salary Ranges