When hard work doesn’t pay
At We Love Local Government, we like staff who work hard. Whether it’s at the top of the ladder or down the bottom doesn’t matter; it’s about taking pride in your job and doing a job you would be proud to put your name to. Schemes like the Guardian’s ‘Local Government Heroes‘ is right up our street. We also aren’t totally against these people being rewarded for their efforts. More creative ways of this recently highlighted include getting celebrities along to award events, but a simpler marker for rewarding hard workers is to pay them a bit more money.
We’re not talking millions here, and occasionally thanks to the Dilbert Principle occasionally someone gets paid more than they’re worth, but generally if someone works hard and takes on a job with a lot of responsibility they get a few more pennies in their bank account at the end of the month.
Not for the first time, nor for the last, this is where we appear to disagree with the great Eric Pickles.
You see, Eric doesn’t seem to like the fact that hard working managers (and yes, there are such things) get paid well for their work; no, Eric doesn’t like this at all. In fact, Eric likes this so little that he seems to want to do all he can to vilify these people. Whether it’s calling for them all to be named-and-shamed, constantly berating them for doing non-jobs, simply calling for them to be cut altogether or hiring hitmen to pick them off one at a time*, Eric wants to rid the world of the curse that is above averagely paid workers.
It’s strange for a number of reasons, not least being the fact that he is above averagely paid himself. What is it that makes you prey to attack when you reach a certain level? What changes about you as a person when you reach the magical figure of £58k?
As an experiment, think about a primary school teacher you know (odds are you do, otherwise think Joanna Lumley in a younger body); they are great, caring, hard working and well respected by all around them for the impact they have on lives.
Now, imagine that for some reason they are rewarded for this work with a £58k annual wage. Have they changed? Will they do any less of a job? Have they turned into evil vampires who live only on the lifeblood of taxpayers?**
No: they are the same people who work hard and do the best for those around them. The only difference is that they are taking home more money at the end of the month.I’m not going to go into the rights and wrongs of which professions deserve more or less money, but the fact is that the larger pay check usually compensates for long hours, large responsibility and stressful work.
In the private sector these rewards are usually far, far greater for similar work, and high wages are seen as a badge of honour. In the public sector high earners are being punished and thrown to the wolves for the crime of working hard and being promoted to more senior positions.I hope one day to be in such a position, and hopefully won’t mind then who knows what I earn. However, to get there I’ll have to work hard and aim to make real and positive changes to the lives of those I work for – the public. Knowing that my work makes a difference is a nice reward: please Mr Pickles, don’t kill me if this good work comes with a bit more money.
*This is definitely not true.
**My PE teacher Mr Bussle was never conclusively proven to be a vampire.