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One-Third of Employees Think Managers Set Pay Based on Feelings

Here's a Monday kind of question for you: Do you think your manager sets your pay based primarily on skills, or how they feel about you?

Cloud-based compensation software firm Beqom has issued its 2018 Compensation and Culture Report, which, among other things, reveals that one-third of employees think their managers set pay based on how they feel about an employee instead of the employee's performance, skills and experience. Ouch.

via GIPHY


Forget having the skills to pay the bills, because modern management is about all the feels! This isn't business, it's personal. So what can managers do about it?

The Way You Make Me Feel
Favoritism at work -- even when it's perceived favoritism -- can have a highly corrosive effect on employee productivity and engagement if they think their pay is based on workplace popularity. Here, watch this video. It has some great tips.


Transparency -- e.g., making everyone's pay or salary level everyone's business -- is another solution that some companies are working toward. If you know what your coworkers earn, then you can gauge pay patterns and test your working theory that pay is set on feelings rather than performance.

More likely, however, employees are relying on their own feelings to decide if managers are in turn consulting their own feelings to set pay rates. Employees will go with their gut unless management sets the record straight by making it clear that pay is based on performance, skills and experience.

Favoritism is a work culture issue that can infect an entire department, or company, if left unaddressed. Great managers are able to see how their actions will be perceived by employees, and are willing to change course based on those likely perceptions. As the old saying goes, perception is nine-tenths of reality.

As we gear up to celebrate National Boss's Day tomorrow, every boss should know that they probably have at least one employee who believes their pay is based on how the boss feels about them instead of their actual performance. I have a feeling this issue won't go away any time soon, either.

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