Considering the incentive of money: Is there a better way to pay?

What drives an employee to give you their all?

Pavement maintenance contractors regularly assume that employees are only motivated by money. While I personally don't believe that this is true, I do respect those business owners who feel inclined that it's the amount of the paycheck that most drives a worker.

So, in order to clarify just why workers do work for money, let's address three considerations before I share another alternative pay method.

Consideration #1

Consider first that people would not be working for you if they were not paid. Now, this sounds a bit silly to even reflect on, but you must reason that if people will not work for free then what you pay them matters much.

Consideration #2

The second consideration should be as clear as the first: People will work for whomever pays them the most money for doing the same type of work. It should come as no surprise, then, to any contractor that his employees, even the most "loyal" employees, will leave the company to work for another contractor if the right financial figure is offered.

As ridiculous as I feel even writing the previous paragraph I am still amazed when I hear a contractor complaining about his workers leaving their employment because another contractor offered them more money.

I mean, if you believe that an employee will not work for free (Consideration #1) and that people will work for whomever pays them the most money (Consideration #2), then why should it ever surprise any contractor when he gets outbid by another contractor for his employee's services? Wake up and smell the money!

Consideration #3

A third consideration involves HOW an employee gets paid. For example, if you employ a younger worker who is single and seldom makes it to the next paycheck, then offering her a "great retirement benefit" will be about as exciting as watching paint dry … in slow motion. Forget it! You had better pay this young worker on time with any intended benefits rolled into her paycheck.

Now, if you have a more seasoned employee who is married, or divorced, with kids to worry about, money is still critical. However, a few other financial options might be more appealing to this employee. Perhaps your offering of a health plan, dental insurance, life insurance, or an Individual Retirement Account will be more to what your seasoned employee desires.

How you pay your employees should be just as important as how much you pay them. Look at your employees by the stage of life they are in. Certainly try to counsel the younger or more irresponsible employee about planning for the future. But don't hold your breath waiting for this group of employees to see the wisdom of keeping their hourly rate constant while you fund a retirement account for them.

Having a different pay process for different employees is something you might consider offering.

Sound like a lot of extra attention and work? Yes! Being flexible with your pay methods and providing a different compensation system for each employee will initially require a little more flexibility and paperwork for you and your bookkeeper. However, tailoring how you pay your employees may help you yo use money in a more motivational manner.

Next month: An alternative employee compensation process to consider, how it works, and how you can set one up.

Brad Humphrey, president of Pinnacle Performance Group, and partner Jeff Stokes recently created the Next Level Contractor. This firm specializes in assisting contractors of all sizes in their quest to be the best. Contact them at