Would You Prefer to be Paid for Time, Results, or Commitment?

by Jessica Sommerfield · 0 comments

I recently read an article written by someone who is self-employed, works at least 60 hours a week, and finds no need to separate “work” and “life,” because he very much feels alive while doing his work. We all dream of this kind of job — one that helps us find what we were meant to do, what makes us click perfectly into place. While this is the ideal, it’s not always possible at certain stages in our lives. After all, starting out in our careers, we may need to do some menial jobs or work our way up the ladder to the position we want. What you may take for granted, however, is how you are compensated. In the traditional 9-5 world that was the status quo previous to this century, the average person worked 40 hours per week for a particular wage per hour, and overtime or time and a half on weekends. Now, the work world has vastly changed, with many people working remotely from their home office instead of in a cubicle, or performing tasks that can’t really be measured in terms of hours or stacks of paperwork. Considering the rapid change in how the world “works,” do you think it’s time to adjust our mentality about the basis for compensation, as well?

For instance, considering the nature of freelance work in many fields, remote access, and flexible work hours around the clock, someone might be able to perform the same amount of work in a day that an on-site, 9-5 worker takes an entire week to complete. This doesn’t mean the on-site worker is slacking; it merely shows the affect of changing work environments. If paid per hour based on work tasks completed, this would be unfair to the person who did the same job but took less time to do it.

Performance-based compensation also has its flaws. The concept of paying people more the more they are able to do or the more money they bring into the company seems like a fair and motivating approach. Unfortunately, human nature eventually comes out, and people find the quickest way to win the prize with the least amount of effort, and certainly don’t go above and beyond what it takes to get the bonus or commission they’re promised. Instead of motivating, it often creates greed, unhealthy competitiveness, cheating, and stifles  creativity and ingenuity (after all, experimenting or taking risks would endanger winning the ‘prize’).

A new approach that is gaining popularity is pay based on commitment level. Since commitment level can seem like an arbitrary term, this is usually spelled out into literal levels, which are each defined based on how much of your income is brought in from the job and what level of priority it is in your daily life.  For instance, you would be at the top level of commitment if your job is your sole source of income and you place commitment to it over obligations to any other side jobs or work commitments.  Ultimately, your boss would have the deciding opinion on which level you represent based on your level of involvement, and determine pay accordingly. In this sense, if a particular job is only part of your total income and you don’t devote much of your time to it, your commitment level is low (this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You may have chosen this level of commitment because of other priorities).

After learning about this new method of compensation, what would gauge your current level of commitment to your job? If you were to be paid accordingly, would you be happy? Do you think businesses of the future will eventually go this route to increase productivity, reduce overpaid underperformance, and encourage the type of commitment that ensures people love their job and value the time they put into it?

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