While money isn’t everything, the salary your staff members receive can have a significant impact on their lives. Even if you feel you pay everyone enough to get by, the difference in paychecks between employees can be seen as a problem by some.
That seems to be the case for the cast members of popular US TV show The Big Bang Theory. Of the seven main cast members, two of them joined the show during its third season, and as a result receive a paycheck of US$200,000 per episode. While an amount most professionals could only dream of, it is significantly less than the US$1 million per episode the five original cast members receive according to Variety.
Taking a step towards leveling the playing field, the five original members have reportedly offered to take a US$100,000 pay cut each per episode to be redistributed to their two colleagues.
Although it’s unlikely many of your staff members will find themselves in a position where they have millions to give away, the scenario could translate on a smaller scale.
What if several team members approached you with a request to redistribute some of their monthly pay to a colleague in financial trouble? While you can pat yourself on the back for putting together such a supportive team, you have to consider the potential consequences for the long term.
The colleagues might be feeling generous now, but what if their financial situation changes? They could end up resenting the colleague they helped out, the team members who convinced them, or the HR employee who approved the salary redistribution.
Additionally, allowing one employee to take a pay cut to help out a colleague could be the beginning of an endless amount of requests from people looking for a raise, hoping you’ll help them find someone who’s willing to take a pay cut.
If the situation does ever arise, make sure the first thing you do is consult your legal team and get any agreements in writing.
Benjamin Wong, HR director, Asia Pacific at Knorr-Bremse, notes that a certain amount of discipline would be required to allow practices like these to succeed. When asked if he would personally take a pay cut to help a colleague get a raise, he simply answered, “Yes.”
On a broader scale, Wong compared it to the practice of managers sacrificing their salary increase to help companies cut costs during difficult times without having to cut jobs.
“Managers’ personal sacrifices at critical moments will showcase to employees that the management team is really concerned with their employees’ career growth and development. I think it’s a long term investment in people which not everyone thinks about, and some might decide to leave. But they would be rewarded in the future.”
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