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Compensation Cafe: An Argument for Unfair Pay

by Derek Irvine

Recognize This! -- The combination of pay and recognition drives the greatest reward for employees – of all abilities and levels.

Is unfair pay a good approach to workplace transformation?

Laszlo Bock, legendary SVP of people operations at Google, advocates for it as part of his "10 things to transform your team and your workplace," which was my topic of discussion earlier this week on Compensation Cafe.

Of course, this is a title created to draw attention, and Mr. Bock's point is more along the lines of rewarding the 10% of the people on the team who do 90% of the work.

On Compensation Cafe, I also draw attention to another tip that takes first place on Mr. Bock's list - "Give your work meaning." I think that's a much better message and draw for 100% of your employees. As I comment in the post:

"Help people draw this connection. When people demonstrate desired behaviors in line with core values or strategic objectives, recognize them for it. Make this recognition quite explicit to help them connect the dots and see the deeper meaning. Better yet, offer differentiated recognition awards calibrated to various factors such as level of effort, contribution, and result achieved. This enables you to involve more people (hopefully, the vast majority of employees) in recognition activities while also ensuring those who go above-and-beyond are recognized as doing so."

As usual on Compensation Cafe, my fellow bloggers and the broader Cafe community weighed in with additional wisdom and insight in the comments.