“They might pay me what I am worth.” – Mark Heard
For years I worked in a job I loved leading a dedicated group of people that, for the most part, felt they were doing worthwhile work. They enjoyed vital relationships with each other and they felt personally valued.
While arriving at a definition of “valued” might be an elusive goal, describing the feelings associated with being undervalued is something we might all find easier to agree upon. Many employees experience these feelings because they believe they are paid unfairly or pitifully. Others feel continually overlooked when possible promotions come around. Some wonder if anyone would miss them if they left the company tomorrow. Many feel that the work they do makes very little difference in a company that itself makes very little difference. Undervaluing people is part of what can make work soul-killing.
Most ideas in the workplace that pertain to improving employees’ sense of value fail because they address the matter primarily as an economic one. Designing the perfect compensation plan is not enough. People sense their value from more things than just their compensation packages.
What is the value of a person? THAT is the question we have to answer first. Because a mutually agreed upon set of answers to that question by any work group will go far beyond designing “Employee Value Proposals for Better Alignment to Corporate Strategy.” If they have the discipline to order their own relationships within the work group consistent to how they answer that question, they will actually begin to see work mend the souls of people. At the same time they will unleash tremendous energy and commitment to their economic agenda. However if they start with the economics they will likely get economic gain, but a work experience that is soul-killing. By starting with the human issue, they will end with both ensoulment and economic gain.
My own value system tells me that there is nothing more valuable in the world than the people in my life. The question I have to ask myself at work is simply, “Do the people I work with feel and benefit from the weight my belief?”