I’ve been traveling a lot for work lately, and last week, I had the privilege of staying in a gorgeous hotel.

However, when I woke up for my day of meetings, I realized there was no hot water. I tried and tried again, finally giving up and resigning myself to an ice-cold shower. (So much for the luxury hotel.) I eventually called the front desk to tell them about the issue, and I was given the figurative eye roll. The woman on the other end told me I should have called earlier and that they would have moved me to a different room. That was it. This woman clearly didn’t care about my experience.

On the next business trip, I had another less than stellar experience at a restaurant. Now, I know this sounds like a complaint—but just stick with me. It’s not. Though the meal was not quite what I ordered and took way too long to arrive, the response was incredible. I politely shared this comment with the waiter who apologized. The manager came over and asked how they could make it right.That was clearly a person who cared about my experience. I left feeling I would gladly dine there again.

Those two experiences got me thinking about compensation—what if our salary or wage was tied to how much we cared about serving the people that rely on us? And ensuring that everyone has a great experience?

How much would you make? How much would your peers make? Who would make the most?

Compensation packages usually don’t reflect an employee’s dedication, hard work or value to an organization. Salaries are often a product of predetermined ranges based on the seniority of the position and the experience one is expected to bring to that role.

Over the years, I’ve learned that the most senior person is not necessarily the one who cares the most, and sometimes, the most senior executives are actually a hindrance to the performance and progression of a business. I’ve also learned that resentment breeds in organizations when those who don’t care make significantly more than those who do.

It’s this line of thinking that led me to question compensation packages and how employees would make out if compensation were based on caring for those who rely on them (customers, peers, managers, etc.), instead of a hiring manager following a company rule book on raises and bonuses. What would happen if we flipped this entire method on its head?

Now, I realize there are likely a number of “numbers people” (say that five times fast!), who are shaking their heads reading this. But let’s suspend reality for a second. Let’s pretend that there’s a machine that can measure how much each person cares about their job. And how much each cares about doing a great job.

Compensation is critical in attracting and retaining talent–for most of us, working is a transactional relationship. An employee performs a job; That employee receives a paycheque.

If we were to tie compensation to how much someone cares, I think a few things could happen:

We’d have more motivated, engaged and kind employees. Linking compensation to caring can foster a sense of ownership and commitment among employees. When an employee knows that their efforts are directly tied to their earning potential, they are more likely to exhibit a higher level of dedication towards their work. This can lead to increased productivity, creativity and innovation.

We’d see greater employee retention and loyalty. Connecting care and compensation can serve as an effective tool for retaining top talent. Knowing that you’ll be rewarded for going above and beyond (read up on that here!), employees may be more likely to stay with the company and resist the allure of competing job offers. This can minimize turnover and save on recruitment costs. (Honestly, I’ve always found it funny that organizations won’t pay up when it comes to top talent. The only way for those star players to get significant increases is usually to job hop–which doesn’t benefit either organization.)

We’d see fewer toxic workplaces. How often have you encountered a colleague who’s seen as invaluable by leadership, but is actually passing off most of their work? Or is awful to their direct reports? Tying compensation to caring and fellow coworkers’ opinions could change how every employee behaves.

This system–of course–wouldn’t be a walk in the park. There are certainly other potential issues to consider.

We’d have to worry about subjectivity and bias. How do you measure caring versus friendship? Your “work wife” may not be the best at her job, but you’d likely give her a higher salary for supporting you through challenging times. And the same goes for that coworker that really rubs you the wrong way. They may care a lot about their job, but just because you don’t see eye-to-eye, do they deserve a lower salary?

There would be discrepancies in job roles/compensation. This is something we’ve been trying to get away from in order to level the playing field and eliminate pay subjectivity. By tying compensation to level of care, we could be inadvertently giving employers a way to justify inequities in compensation packages.

Self-motivated folks may lose perspective. For some, caring is just how they operate. Tying compensation to caring could shift focus to financial gain, rather than personal fulfillment or passion for the work. This could lead to a decrease in overall job satisfaction and employee engagement, leading to reduced productivity and creativity.

What are your thoughts on tying compensation to level of care? Please join me on LinkedIn and let’s talk about it. I’d also love it if you forwarded this to a few colleagues who could benefit from this model. Maybe we can be the change we’d like to see in the world.

P.S. Oh, and the most loving and dedicated stay-at-home parents would get a HUGE raise!! My mom would have been a millionaire!

Share this