“Do the right thing. It will gratify some people and astonish the rest.”
“It may not always be easy, convenient, or politically correct
to stand for truth and right, but it is the right thing to do. Always. “
M. Russell Ballard
This month’s Small Idea is late because I wasn’t sure how to complete it. I had already chosen the topic but after reading two articles during the past month I was troubled by what I had read. I wanted to share something constructive rather than a rant.
I read an article titled, “Paying for Employee Honesty”, in a popular web newsletter.
The article explained that, “Retail employees who earn a higher wage than their peers are less likely to steal money or inventory”. The author went on to say that a paper published in the Journal for Accounting Research stated, “This study aligns with some other research that has found paying more to higher-ranking executives cuts down on fraud…” The article continued by saying that 40% of the higher compensation costs could be offset by the reduction in theft.
I also read an Associated Press article about school districts around the country using incentives to encourage their students to attend school and to get good grades. “School day wake-up calls recorded by celebrities. Weekend makeup classes. Contests with laptop computers, private concerts and cars as prizes”, the article stated.
This information concerns me…
When employees have to be cajoled into doing their jobs well with rewards what does that do to the whole concept of accountability? There was a time when good attendance and doing your job well was expected. It was routinely rewarded on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. The concept was rampant throughout the country, every employer subscribed to it. It was called a paycheck.
Students were once expected to show up to school or they would be considered truant. Poor grades were greeted with “wait until your father gets home”, and that statement alone struck fear in the hearts of many teens.
The bar has been lowered with regards to the expectations placed on employees and our youth. We have no one to blame but ourselves. JD
Do What’s Right… For a Price
At what point did we stop relying on people to do the right thing? Is luring students to school and enticing them to get good grades with prizes healthy in the long run? Should we need to pay employees and executives more to guarantee their honesty? When do we return expectations to a level where students and employees can be trusted to do what’s right without needing to be rewarded for doing what should be expected? What happened to our integrity?
Attendance bonuses, productivity bonuses, Employee of the Month parking spaces… have they really been effective in the long-term? Or, have we squelched employees’ inclination to do their jobs honestly and well as well as to treat others professionally, not because there’s a tangible reward but, because it’s the right thing to do? Which price is higher, the cash or the loss of integrity?
Expect More, Get More
I’d like to suggest we begin a reexamination of our tendency to reward mediocre performance from employees. Recognition of a job well done is important but are we at a point of diminishing returns when showing up is an accomplishment? And, the way I see it, paying people more to prevent them from stealing from you seems to me to be extortion of sorts.
The bar should be set higher as an example for our youth as well. If they don’t make it to school and cannot put forth an effort to perform well, don’t expect any better when they become your employees.
Want to do the right thing? Expect more of yourself and those around you. We’ll all be better off.
Next month: Employees on the Edge