‘I’m not paid fairly’ (Guest commentary)

How to deal with employees unhappy about their pay
By Bruce Katcher
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 02/26/2009

During my senior year of high school, I held a part-time job loading 50-pound sacks of fertilizer and garden supplies onto large trucks. We were paid by the hour until the job was completed. There were three of us: my buddy, an elderly General Motors assembly worker and me. I was anxious to impress and worked hard and quickly my first evening. The second night, the GM worker cornered me and said sternly, “We work slowly here, get it?” He didn’t say we did this to make more money, but that was obvious.

This behaviour is not limited to physical labourers. A colleague of mine works in a management-consulting firm. Most of his clients are government agencies. They set what he considers a very low limit on how much his firm can charge per hour. He plays the game by saying the project will take more hours than it actually does.

Several years ago I was consulting for a small utility in New England. Most of the unionized workforce had been with the organization for years. Their biggest complaint was the pay was too low. They told me, “We just go through the motions on Fridays, not doing any actual work because our paycheque only really covers us for four days.”