Thursday, September 07, 2006

Would you exchange 5% less pay for less pressure at work?

In my discussions with my potential employer, I was told that there was a specific cut off point regarding the upper level of pay for my position.

If I passed this cut-off point, my boss's boss would have a higher level of expectations for my performance. Specifically, the amount of revenue and profit my group brought in. The difference between the minimum amount I was expecting for the position and the cut off point is about -5%; i.e. if I took 5% less pay I would have less of a "bogey" on my back.

As this would be a new firm, new group, etc... I'm wondering if I want that pressure when I start the job. I have many industry contacts and expect I can bring on new business, but with the new baby coming, etc... maybe it would be wiser to accet 95% of my minimum?

Any advice you can offer I would be grateful to receive.



Blaine Moore said...

If it is reasonable that you can make your minimums, then I would go with the higher scale. I tend to think more responsibility is better than less, but that is for myself and I can't obviously speak for you.

Tiredbuthappy said...

To me there's something insulting about this. It's as if they're implying that you wouldn't be doing your very best at whatever job you undertook. They're saying, "okay, we want you, but if we pay you more, we want you to work at 150% capacity." It just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

On the other hand, I think there's something to this psychologically. I took on a freelance job last year working for a friend. I worked for about a third of the going rate, partly because it was a friend, and partly because I had never done that kind of work before. I felt less pressure to do a good job because I figured even if I failed he'd still be getting his money's worth.

Of course, I worked very hard and I think I did do a good job. I ended up feeling slightly resentful and wishing I had charged more. If you bring lots of new business to the firm, work hard, don't go home every day right at five, are you going to feel like you are actually worth that extra 5%?

Maybe you can negotiate with them and say you'll take the base pay, but you want a performance review after six months with the understanding that they'll bump your salary up by that extra 5% annually if you are excelling.

Madame X said...

Of course I don't know the situation exactly, but I don't see how you could tell a potential new employer that you'd like the less pay/less pressure option. Most employers don't want to hear that you are less ambitious and want to work less hard, regardless of how much they are paying you. I think you should define how much you want to make, and then decide whether what you're expected to do to make that amount is reasonable at this company. If it's not reasonable, or just not doable for you, is there something you can ask for that makes is possible to achieve? Can you negotiate about it in a positive way to make things work for everyone? As an employer, that is the approach I would want from a potential hiree. If someone just openly chose to try less hard in exchange for less money, I'd worry about their overall attitude and be reluctant to hire them. I do understand the concerns about family life, etc. and you should definitely take them into account, but I think that is for you to work out with yourself in determining whether you want this job, not in negotiating your salary with the employer. I'm not sure how much you've already told them about your expectations at this point...
Anyway, that is my 2 cents!

mOOm said...

That sounds like a tricky situation they are putting you in. Though what it really means could depend on context. If you go for the lower pay point they might think you don't think you are really up to meeting the goal. And if you go for it and don't meet the target that won't be good either. Much better if they would just pay a bonus if you meet the higher level.

I don't know if the point is to get you to signal what level you are prepared to put in (maybe as an economist I am too cycnical). Or whether it is - "if you want that much you have to perform at an extra high level..." but we expect the lower level and will pay according to that.

Maybe I'm completely off base here. It's not the kind of question I would like to get from an employer.

savingadvice said...

Tricky situation. I'd be surprised if a boss would really expect less no matter what you're paid (even if he says he does) and by choosing less there may be ramifications in promotions for the future. Seems it really puts yoou in a no win situation - if you say no, you appear not to be a go getter and if you say yes, he can always bring it up when he askes you to work more hours.


Empty Spaces Inc. said...

i'd offer to have my salary cut 5% if it meant lower expectations at work.

in a sense I've already done that by not pursuing any sort of promotion and by moving to companies with low pressure [and similarly low rewards]. The aim is to get out of the rat race. not to get more firmly entrenched in it.

if you feel you can make more money on the side than a lousy 5% of your salary you should. I've been able to match my income and then some through investments. so effectively my income has more than doubled. although I work incredibly hard for this, its a separate stream of income, and that in itself provides stability incase of job loss.

2million said...

Wow I will have to try this if I ever am hiring someone.

Personally I have to agree with Empty - I am all for less stress, 5% is nothing at your net worth. However, if it means that its going limit your career options and thats important to you then you have no coice but to go for it.

makingourway said...

I'm moving in the direction of going for the larger amount - and getting the boggie.
I would work as if I had one anyway. Also, the higher amount will be more helpful if I decide to change firms.
Lastly, I think they'd hold me to the same level of responsibility.
At a friend's recommendation, I'm going to talk with a career advisor and see what she has to say (this and in general).
Have a great weekend,