Where Conventional Wisdom Fails March 17, 2012Posted by humbug27 in Company, conventional wisdom, General, Life, opinions, other, productivity, Uncategorized, Work, workers.
Tags: Company, Employment, Productivity, work, work ethic, Workforce
Conventional wisdom says that a higher rate of productivity is always better and that employees should try to be more productive workers. I don’t necessarily agree with this philosophy because it doesn’t always favor a highly productive worker. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that a strong work ethic is meaningless, but in some cases, it can work against you. For example, suppose that worker A and worker B, work for Company C. They both perform the exact same job for the same duration at the exact same pay rate. They are the only two people in their department and they’ve been with the company for the same amount of time. Let’s imagine that they work in a distribution center and their jobs consist of packing and shipping boxes. Each day, the men are required to meet a specific quota, which never changes (for sake of this argument). Since joining the company, they have managed to meet their daily quota without fail. If the workers were to miss their quota, they could lose their jobs. Consequently, both workers have an equal stake in the work. However, each worker does not produce the same volume of work.
Each day, worker A produces 20% more work than does worker B. All physical capabilities being equal, worker A is simply more productive. Yet, he makes the same wage as worker B because they perform the same job. In this case, I would say that worker A is penalized for being more productive. Oops, that isn’t supposed to happen. Suddenly, doing more work doesn’t seem like such a good idea. So, what advice would you give to worker A? Would you tell him to slow his pace because it’s unfair that he does more work for the same pay? The downside to that strategy is that he may lose his job if he slows down and misses quota. Of course, Worker A could ask worker B to increase his pace in order to meet worker A in the middle. That seems reasonable to me, but in that case, each person is pulling more weight that person B was originally. In the end, it would probably come down to worker A leaving the company in search of a better opportunity. Meanwhile, company C let’s him walk because they are cheap and refuse to pay their employees more money. They probably don’t realize just how valuable worker A was to their company in the first place. Like so many companies, they see a number on a balance sheet and completely disregard the actual value of the employee. If worker A leaves, it is completely possible that company C will hire someone to fill his spot and that person will not be as productive (at least in the short run). Meanwhile, person B will probably continue to work at his normal capacity, which will result in the company failing to meet the quota that was achieved when worker A was there.
In the end, company C loses because they failed to recognize that a job is more than an hourly dollar amount. It’s about value and recognizing workers who produce at a high level. Only when a company recognizes and rewards hard work are we justified in continuing to outperform our peers. Otherwise, it is a lost cause and it seems foolish to cost yourself in the name of pride. All that matters is that my example illustrates how it would be difficult to justify worker A continuing to work harder for the same pay. I do understand that my example illustrates an extreme set of circumstances. I am also not suggesting that a good work ethic is worthless. I believe that most of the time, good workers will eventually be recognized and rewarded, but this is not always the case. It is a reminder that we should try to look at things from different perspectives if we are to get the best picture.