Making the connection between pay and work attitude


Not too long ago, I wrote an article about the connection between pay and employee satisfaction and retention.

In 2014, a Harris Interactivec survey conducted on behalf of CareerBuilder indicated that as many as 66% of employees were considering leaving their current jobs because they weren’t happy with their pay. Just over one-quarter of the polled employees said they had not been offered a pay increase over the past year.

What’s going on with American workplaces that contribute to positive or negative viewpoints about work?

In this article, let’s examine the attitudes of employees and how this is often connected to the amount their companies pay them.

Where employee attitude originates

Many times, the way an employee behaves and the attitude he or she presents with at work stems from parental values about work. If the employee’s parents worked, enjoyed their careers, and earned enough to live comfortably, the employee is more apt to take a positive stance toward working, too. In contrast, if the employee experienced a difficult childhood because a parent had a bad career experience and/or a number of periods when the parent’s career path was rocky, that employee may develop negative work attitudes.

Core beliefs about work aren’t the end of the story of course. The wrong pay can aggravate a bad attitude or demotivate an employee with a good attitude.

The impact of negative attitudes on the job

When an employee has an overall negative view of work, very often his or her attitude manifests as poor performance and poor attendance. For example, the employee may do the bare minimum to fly under the radar of management, or the employee may stick to the rules when a supervisor is present but grumble and break company policy at every other opportunity. Just one negative employee with some influence over peers can bring down an entire team if not kept in check.

How attitudes about work can change

Very often, employee attitudes can fluctuate depending on external factors, such as updates to company compensation and benefits. An employee may become more motivated and encouraged if more pay is offered based directly on performance efforts. For example, an employee who has not had a raise in the last two years due to low performance may find encouragement when he gets focused training to help him improve while working toward a raise in pay. Even increased starting salaries can be a boon for poor employee attitudes for entry-level and lower-level employees who typically earn less than managers.

Guidelines for making the salary connection

When designing a compensation strategy, it’s important to note that employees need your support to reach their desired earnings. For example, performance goals should be realistic, or the employees may miss the mark repeatedly. Making the workplace a more positive environment, with a strong culture of hard work and ethics, can go a long way toward better attitudes. Offering more generous pay and benefits fosters good will and lets employees know the company is vested in their success.

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