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Let employees pay themselves

Employees are allowed to set their own compensation
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Complaints are common about the currently popular systems of remuneration for employees.

The most commonly used system is an hourly wage, where you get paid a specific amount of money per hour you work. This incentivizes you to take longer doing tasks, so that you get paid the same amount while doing less work, or more while doing the same work. It also doesn't incentivize you to make improvements to efficiency (though if you do, you can have some free time that you probably have to spend pretending to work).

Another is salary, where you get paid a specific amount per month or so, just to be an employee, regardless of how much work you do or how long it takes you to do it. It usually comes with an expectation that you'll work overtime for free.

Another is piece work, where you get paid a specific amount of money for each task you do. This is illegal in some places, though I forget why. It incentivizes efficiency and task completion, but it also encourages rushing and therefore doing a worse job.

Those are just the complaints that I could think of on the spot; there are others. Also, if you are the boss, deciding how much an employee is to be paid can be difficult, and if you are an employee, asking for a raise can be awkward, and you might unknowingly get paid much less than a coworker who does the same work and hasn't even been with the company as long as you (because bosses discourage employees to discuss with each other how much they are paid).

Anyway, my solution is to throw all of those out and just ask the employees how much they want to be paid, and/or how they want their pay calculated, and then just pay them accordingly. They can ask for an hourly wage, an output-based wage, a salary, compensation calculated by a custom formula, or even just a lump sum of arbitrary amount whenever they want.

For example, you could use a formula like $300/[feature implemented] + $15*(1.1^[hour spent implementing a given feature]) + $5/[hour on call at home] + $100/[hour worked when called in]. Another employee doing the same job could choose to use the same formula or a different one (or one of the simple hourly/piece work/etc. options).

Whatever an employee sets, that's how they get paid. Employees are expected to use this power fairly, considering how much similar jobs elsewhere are offering, how much value they provide to the company, etc. Employees can set their formulas to give themselves incentives to work in certain ways, such as taking on fewer larger projects instead of more smaller ones.

In exchange for allowing them to set their own compensation, all of this information is 'publicly' available within the company. Everyone at the company can see how everyone else gets paid, and everyone else's compensation history. Therefore, they can also use the knowledge of how much their coworkers are paid in setting how much or by what formula they get paid. They can also see if someone else is paying themselves too much or too little.

This system can be implemented using a internal payroll application that employees can access to set their compensation settings.

Yes, you'll probably need good people to make this work well. If someone abuses their power, you can warn and/or fire them. (They'd probably be a bad employee in other ways too.) On the other hand, giving your employees more agency in this way should be good for morale, so it should help with retention.

I thought of this mainly in the context of companies with employees doing highly skilled work (such as software development), so I don't know if it would work as well for other jobs, especially those with lower skill requirements, but it probably could.

63/384 [2018-05-03]

notexactly, Jan 29 2019

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       Is there a summary, something shorter?
Skewed, Jan 29 2019
  

       //Another is piece work, where you get paid a specific amount of money for each task you do.//   

       Hey, that's how I get paid!   

       //This is illegal in some places, though I forget why.//   

       It has it's downsides. Lots of downsides. No benefits, no vacation pay, no sick pay, no royalties, no taxes deducted, no severance pay, no severance notice, no pension, oh the list just goes on and on but there are perks if you look for them hard enough.   

       //It incentivizes efficiency and task completion, but it also encourages rushing and therefore doing a worse job.//   

       Not if contractually obligated to repair any deficiencies at ones own cost for a year after the job is complete. Yep, downsides.   

       //Everyone at the company can see how everyone else gets paid, and everyone else's compensation history. Therefore, they can also use the knowledge of how much their coworkers are paid in setting how much or by what formula they get paid. They can also see if someone else is paying themselves too much or too little.//   

       So everyone will demand the maximum.   

       //This is illegal in some places, though I forget why.//   

       Because in practice it's far too often deliberately set at a level of pay per "piece" that it's impossible to make enough money for the very lowest form of subsistence living let alone an hourly target of the minimum wage (in those countries that have a minimum wage).   

       In countries that do have a minimum wage it's often viewed (not entirely without cause) as a loophole to paying the minimum wage that can only be closed by banning it completely.
Skewed, Jan 29 2019
  

       //In countries that do have a minimum wage it's often viewed (not entirely without cause) as such a loophole to paying the minimum wage that can only be closed by banning it completely.//   

       Some jobs are better paid this way. Even here in Canada which has a very strict minimum wage policy I have worked two strictly piece-work jobs. One was when I would take over for absent balloon printing girls when I worked night-shift maintenance in a printing factory, and flooring installation.
You can work either job hourly or by salary but you won't earn as much.
  

       //Is there a summary, something shorter?//   

       Let employees set their own compensation packages. If their price is too high, fire them.
Voice, Jan 29 2019
  

       This is fairly well aligned with the technical contract employment market where people work on (say) a 6-month contract, with the expectation of renewal if they've done a good job. Since it's relatively short-term, there's a regular opportunity to renegotiate or walk into another employment should the remuneration not meet expectations, and equally, it's incumbent upon the worker to do a good enough job that their services will be called upon again. In my industry, there's a good 60-80% of people who work this way, who find themselves bumping into old colleagues from gigs months or years ago, meaning that despite the constant churn across organisations, there's a relatively stable community of faces - which encourages longer- termism in behaviours and reduces some of the silliness that people who think in 3-month packets can fall into.
zen_tom, Jan 29 2019
  

       Having worked in security work, this already happens - but in kind. A guy was stealing the petrol + oil, when he was supposed to guarding it etc   

       As for Rolex stores, who watches the watches?
not_morrison_rm, Jan 29 2019
  

       [nmrm] You been waiting long to use that ?
bigsleep, Jan 29 2019
  

       ..about 4 seconds after I thought of it. It's a knack.   

       Oh, and someone in a supermarket who'd beat tin cans out of shape so they'd go on sale, and this person got them first. Most jobs seem to have a self-gifting option to those inclined.
not_morrison_rm, Jan 29 2019
  

       ^ and there's no better way to encourage inclination than paying too little.
Skewed, Jan 29 2019
  

       Maybe I should have mentioned, back in January, that I thought of this idea in the context of, and it is optimized for, a company where every employee gets total freedom to set their own hours, and only people who can be trusted with such freedoms are hired. It might make more sense now.
notexactly, Aug 30 2019
  

       Truth usually is a bitter pill, I not sure most people can, by instilled nature, value themselves correctly. It would take pain that the orange guy wouldn't ever face.
wjt, Aug 31 2019
  

       Without reading the entire idea, due to lack of time and money, I voted "yes". Just because. No other reason.
blissmiss, Sep 01 2019
  

       Things are worth what others are willing to pay for them.
theircompetitor, Sep 01 2019
  

       // I voted "yes" //   

       Thank you.
notexactly, Sep 02 2019
  

       A guy I knew owned a small town hardware store. He said that if he ever won the lottery he would GIVE the business to his employees. Then sit back, watch and laugh.
AusCan531, Sep 02 2019
  

       //Things are worth what others are willing to pay for them.//   

       That's not a bad guide, [tc], but it does lead to certain well-known paradoxes. For example, if you wash up on a desert island, then the sole fresh water spring on that island is, by this definition, worthless, since no-one can buy or sell it.
pertinax, Sep 02 2019
  

       //Things are worth what others are willing to pay for them// Most of us moved on from acquisition by club.
wjt, Sep 03 2019
  

       ... except those of us in cartels, obviously.
pertinax, Sep 03 2019
  

       //...if you wash up on a desert island, then the sole fresh water spring on that island...// - but this will never happen! A desert island, by definition, cannot have a fresh water spring on it.
hippo, Sep 03 2019
  

       there is no paradox, only an overly simplistic definition of "pay".
theircompetitor, Sep 03 2019
  

       There is no "pay", only an overly simplistic definition of "paradox" ;-)   

       I'm kidding, but if we're going to start stretching an empirically observable event, "someone pays something to someone else", into something more metaphysical, I'm not against that, but we could be here for a while.
pertinax, Sep 04 2019
  

       Supply and demand is a natural law, so no metaphysics needed, ask the bonobos trading sex for food. You need metaphysics where scarcity is NOT a factor, for the god in the machine.
theircompetitor, Sep 04 2019
  

       The human race is going to the next level beyond supply and demand. Beyond supply manipulation. Humanity has the technology to see all resources and all demands, an overview not seen before.
wjt, Sep 05 2019
  

       well, we've eliminated scarcity in downloadable material, and that hasn't made people too happy. Can't imagine figuring out the philosopher's stone would make too many people happy, at least initially.
theircompetitor, Sep 05 2019
  

       People need to chase their own individual genius. It's always been the goal.
All of life seems to be engineered to prevent any attempt at accomplishing this task unless one happens to be privileged enough to not really care to.
  

       When the robots take all of the jobs maybe this whole 'subjugate others in order to elevate ourselves' attitude will go away.   

       I've never understood it. I get how it is a reality... but the whole shebang is completely out-of-whack and in need of an overhaul.
...and what [wjt] said.
  

       oh, please. Status is even more important to primates than direct wealth, even the Borg had a queen. The Soviets had a lot of titles to hand out to people living in communal apartments.
theircompetitor, Sep 05 2019
  
      
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