Some of us have heard the marketing jingle, “What would you do for a Klondike Bar.” Apparently, Klondike Bars are so delicious that people would do some crazy things to get one. While these may seem extreme, they are child’s play when compared to what people would do for a 10% raise!
LendEDU did a survey a couple of weeks ago. They asked 1,238 employed Americans what they would be willing to exchange for an immediate 10% raise. The survey covered 16 possibilities. The results are disheartening. I have listed a few below.
- 55.9% would work an extra 10 hours a week…for the rest of their lives.
- 40.06% would give up dental care for the next five years (yum).
- 15.27% would give up all of their vacation days for the next five years (so much for using that extra money).
But the shocker is this:
34.98% would give up their right to vote, forever.
Maybe, just maybe, we need to pay people a bit more. Wage increases for broad-based staff have not kept up with something important. We just aren’t sure what it is. Perhaps the issue is expectations for pay. Maybe the problem is inflation (although data shows purchasing power over the years has remained flat.) Perhaps it is discontentment in our political process. Regardless of the cause, the “fix” seems stark and unfortunate.
I am not shocked that a majority of people would work an extra 10 hours or work one day of every weekend for a year. Most people view extra work as a reasonable drive of extra pay. This says nothing about the fact that they would be doing far more than 10% more work to get only 10% more pay. But, math is not everyone’s strong suit.
On average, only 2 out of every 3 people see a dentist annually. Given that statistic it should be no surprise that a ton of people would stop going for a 10% raise. My guess is that most of those making this selection weren’t planning on seeing a dentist anytime soon.
Half of American’s don’t use all of their vacation time. I was a bit surprised that this survey result was so low.
The voting question was the real eye-opener. Imagine living in a country where elections were open, free and frequent and then voluntarily giving that up for an amount of money that should not be game-changing. Imagine needing a few hundred dollars each month so badly that you would give up America’s most important right. We are doing something wrong.
We are just a bunch of HR and Compensation professionals. We work for companies doing their best to succeed in a very competitive world. We cannot fix our political system, at least not quickly. Perhaps we can do more to protect our democracy.
I don’t know any company that has an extra 10% sitting around for unexpected raises. I do know a ton of companies that would quickly fade away if our entire political system was transformed by oligarchs or others providing the 10% that companies cannot.
Of course, this survey was just a thought exercise, and it is too soon to panic. But, if we don’t pay attention, all of our incentive plans, benchmarking, compensation philosophies and pay structures will be an ineffective defense against the rise of voter apathy.
Dan Walter, CECP, CEP is the President and CEO of Performensation. He is passionately committed to aligning pay with company strategy and culture and considered a leading expert on equity compensation issues. Dan has written several industry resources including an issue brief on Performance-Based Equity Compensation. He has co-authored ”Everything You Do In Compensation is Communication”, “The Decision Makers Guide to Equity Compensation”.