Encouraging people to move jobs for a pay rise misses the point

pay rise

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said in a speech recently that the best way for workers to get a pay rise was to switch jobs to a higher paying employer. Sorry Josh, but encouraging workers to jump ship to get a pay increase is some of the worst advice I have heard. It could potentially have devastating effects for SME owners, not to mention those who go job-hopping in search of better pay.

From my perspective as an employer, my view is simple — if you have loyal, productive staff, and want to keep them, pay them well, and well over the minimum. I’ve realised over the 11 years of being a business owner that having staff you can trust is the most important factor in of any business. Your staff should come first, every time.

Investing in your staff is just not about financial rewards. Providing professional development opportunities and a career pathway can also instil loyalty, and if your workforce feel they are improving professionally and you have their career prospects in mind, they are more likely to remain onboard.

In my experience, creating a culture that is flexible is paramount to ensure your staff feel valued. This could be around providing working parents with the ability to incorporate their work hours around their children’s needs. It might also mean allowing those who can, to work from home. Lack of flexibility is one of the main reasons people leave an employer and, during the pandemic, workplace flexibility is no longer an option — it’s a given.

Incentives to enter a profit-sharing arrangement with the business owner also helps to attract and retain superstar employees. Placing high levels of trust with staff also gives them a sense of purpose and pride when strategies and sales are achieved.

We have a competitive labour market, where good staff can be poached easily if their needs aren’t being fulfilled, so the key is to discover what individual staff members need or want to remain satisfied and engaged. For some, KPIs attached to bonuses can keep them motivated, if their focus is on earning more money. Other staff enjoy the social element of the workplace and place a higher value on staff events, activities, and team-building opportunities.

Study after study over the years has found that most people don’t leave a job because of money. Mostly, it’s down to the relationship they have with their boss. As the saying goes, people leave managers, not companies.

So my advice is two-fold: provide a workplace that puts people and culture first and pay your staff over the award or minimum wage. If you don’t, your staff will find someone, or somewhere, better and it won’t be about the money.


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