How to pay your employee less, but get more

Pay employee less

We tend to trust. From the perspective of evolutionary psychology, everything is pretty simple: if someone warns us of a danger, it’s easier for us to trust the person to improve the chances of our survival than recheck and technically reduce these chances. Yes, until quite recently, everything was that simple.

Biologically, confidence is regulated by oxytocin. In fact, a couple of centuries ago, most of the population lived in small villages with a resident population. Everyone was at one another’s face. Increasing confidence in this society using oxytocin made it possible to increase the chances of survival.

The Dunbar’s number clearly demonstrates that in the process of evolution, we tended to live in a society with the population that did not exceed 150 people. And this has had a heavy impact on behavior and the number of social ties in our days.

Even on our desire to belong to a particular group of people, which is a well-known opposition between “us and them.” For example, terrorists are ready to die for the sake of “their own” group in order to damage the “other” group. We have a higher empathy for “our” group, an increased level of oxytocin, which leads to greater confidence.

This feature can be effectively used in the process of motivating employees. However, the brain, consuming too much energy, is inclined to simplify many things to save energy. These simplifications lead to abrupt transitions between states.

As I wrote in my article on the motivation of employees, the slightest false move results in making an enemy out of a loyal employee. As experiments show, the very mechanism of this behavior is peculiar to other hominids as well (other than our species).

We are encouraged for trust in many ways because, in the long-term, this results in the prosperity of the society and us in it. Therefore, it is quite logical that the violation of such rules of interaction with other members of society leads to rather negative consequences.

Revenge (no matter how rude this may sound) for antisocial and dishonest behavior is almost a key element in maintaining a healthy society. In general, we are very sensitive to any violation of rules and the state of equality. Our species is evolutionarily characterized by democracy.

It is important to understand this in the process of building staff motivation. The more equality employees observe within the company, the higher will be the loyalty they will demonstrate.

This is especially true for wages because it would be quite logical for employees not to know each other’s wages and therefore, be not bothered by thoughts of unfairness. If this were so, it would solve many problems. But that’s not so. It is important for us to know the secrets; we want to disclose them.

Evolutionary psychology explains it as the desire to increase the chances of survival, and hence the reproduction of offspring. We think over secrets, and, of course, over time, many employees get the conviction that their colleagues earn more, while they are underpaid.

Having analyzed various data regarding the conviction of people that they are underpaid, we can deduce an approximate figure of 60% employees.

60% of these 60% employees declare their desire to leave the company they are at now. For comparison, 39% of employees who believe that they are overpaid also want to leave the company. But this is another category of employees with other serious problems that shouldn’t be left unattended.

PayScale data show that 82% of employees who are underpaid but are communicated with fairly well and are explained the reasons for their low wages are satisfied with their job.

So, it is more logical and efficient for an employer to make a salary, which is lower than the market’s average, open than to make a high salary, which is made a secret of.

Take into account the aspects of evolution, so as not to get an angry employee, eager to restore justice. You shouldn’t rely on the prefrontal cortex of the employee’s brain to repress his/her urge to perform some kind of negative action (including physical assault).

You shouldn’t blame him/her for such a reaction either. This is just the reverse side of human trust. Realize this feature and build relationships with the trustful side of your employees. And we are the ones who are, as always, ready to help you. You can contact us for consulting.

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Best regards,

Leon The Alien


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Images: Ambreen Hasan, HBR