The Employment Scam


It intrigues me that businesses survive paying people for their title - what they ARE - rather than what they DO.

What are people paid for? Presumably to get things done, processed, managed, sent, people served, customers looked after, the company's reputation enhanced....

Yet, when I ask managers and business owners if they are getting done what they are paying for, to the full extent of what they expect, very few say "yes". Surely those businesses are performing at a fraction of potential profit, when people are not doing what the business needs (including the changing needs of a business.) Businesses continue to operate, but the price of remaining functional is paid by those who have to make up for what's missing - this expense is real, but is not being accounted for on the company's books. Instead, it is a personal cost by those individuals going above and beyond.

Some examples:

Managers paid to manage who only do the tasks they enjoy doing or that are easy for them to do.
Salespeople paid to sell, who instead react to actions of buyers (who sell to themselves.)
Customer Service people who regard a customer as an intrusion in what was an interesting social exchange with a colleague.

(There are also social examples of this, such as where parents pay children (an allowance) by virtue of the fact they are their child, instead of in exchange for contribution, to the household. What message does this send about how society works?)

Paying people money that they have not fairly exchanged for equivalent value is what we call a charity. Does your business plan describe your business as a not-for-profit organisation? If not, something has to change - even if it IS to change your business description to that of a not-for-profit. (May as well operate it the way it actually is, and get the tax breaks!)

We're told from research that businesses pay people about 50% more than the actual salary, when you take into account all the indirect costs of employment. How can any business sustain this inequity: money invested versus value of contribution?

"Our hands are tied by employment legislation!" I hear you lament. "It's impossible to get rid of someone not pulling their weight" you moan. Nonsense.

It is high time to ensure that those around you honour their agreements - verbal, social or legal. Implied or explicit. A legal contract does not give someone the right to take more than they contribute. And if they do, someone else pays the price and this situation of social imbalance is unstable. And stress is expensive - it's just that the bill arrives when you are least able to afford it.

To ensure you have equitable exchange with people, you have to:

  1. Acknowledge what is POSSIBLE for people and performance, and
  2. Not accept any less than what people CAN contribute at their best.

Bottom line: unless you pay people according to what they contribute to the success of the business, instead of their social or work title, it'll show up on your bottom line.

As legislation stops you from docking their pay, your only option is to get people to deliver on their commitments. If you can't do that, ensure you "employ" people who can.

Cherri Holland


Cherri Holland has twenty years of successfully working with organizations.

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