What Are You Worth?

“I’m worth more than what you are paying me.”

As a business owner, I occasionally hear a statement similar to that from my employees.  The context is that they have worked for me for a reasonable period, they have performed okay, and they, along with information from peer employees and the internet, have decided they need to be paid more.

Frequently there are two sides to this discussion—the owner’s position and the employee’s opinion, and the outcome often leaves one side discouraged.

A better outcome is for the employer and employee to have an open conversation about expectations and compensation—and how that related to what the employee is worth.

What’s an Employee Worth?

Too frequently we think of what someone is paid is based in terms of how efficiently they can do their job.  The more money they make for the business, the more pay the employee should receive.

Historically, in most business environments, what is charged for an employee is set by the marketplace, which then in turn indirectly sets the wages the employees receive.  The employees get paid in relation to what other employees performing similar tasks receive.  Little attention is given to how efficiently they are at completing their work.

The intangibles the employees bring to the company is only taken into account as an afterthought.

To better reimburse or employees we need to start paying them what they are worth.

Intangible Employee Characteristics to Consider

Here are several intangible employee characteristics to considering when considering the worth of your employees.

  1. Interpersonal Interactions. We are defined by how we treat other people. Each interaction with another individual reflects a personal belief system and code of morality. Employees should treat all people with respect, no matter the relationship. A stranger deserves an equal amount of respect as a longtime friend.
  2. Self-Esteem. Self-esteem is our sense of our ability to do things well.  It is the interactions with yourself, the voice in your head. This trait is found in an honest and fair understanding with him or herself.  Employees should be realistic about personal flaws, but confident in their ability to learn, grow, and change for the better.
  3. Calculated Risk-Taker. A high-quality person is courageous enough to express his gifts and opinions. It is not about gaining popularity: it is because they are in touch with their core belief system. An employee’s actions should be calculated and aligned with values, and they dare to be defined by convention at the cost of authenticity.
  4. Demonstrates Strong Ethics and Morals. There is a clear difference between right and wrong, and these values are non-negotiable. What is worth pursuing is given full attention and priority. A good employee’s strength of will is defined as a committed persistence to excellence.
  5. Contribution. Employees need to realize that they are created to give.  Giving is seen in helping when not asked, volunteering when needed, and personally contributing when a need is found wanting. Contributions are not made with an ostentatious purpose, but by an understanding that giving is an act of joy in itself.
  6. Humble. Humans are susceptible to frequent error, yet even if flawed we still have value.  Employees need to be able to relate and forgive those that have wronged us.  Forgiveness is emancipation from chains of resentment that keep one fettered to the past.

The Bible

One additional intangible to consider in determining the worth of an employee is the appreciation of the gifts that God has given them.  We are all worth immeasurable amount because the God of our universe has decided to create us and love us.  He gave His only Son just to save us.

The understanding that we are worth more than just good looks, intelligence, family lineage, athletic ability, and career aspirations is probably the most important intangible trait to consider.  All those other personal traits can go away, but the love and care of God will remain forever.

God’s unending love for us found in Matthew 10:29-31.

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?  And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.  But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.  Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

We all, employers and employees alike, need to understand and appreciate the value that God places on each of us.

We need to be paid fairly and pay our employees fairly.  Employers need to break out of the routine of paying employees what peer companies pay employees who have similar responsibilities. 

We should look at each employee and see the intangibles that they bring. Obviously, many factors need to be considering, but your employees are worth your time to consider each employee individually.  A good place to start is with what God thinks we are worth and then go from there.