Are we compensating for something?

Like I mentioned in my most recent post (1), I am a huge advocate for company-sponsored training especially when I have an authentically engaged boss who is helping and wanting me to succeed in my career. And though it is scientifically supported that one’s work performance is most positively correlated to the quality of the relationship between said employee and their direct manager (well summarized in the HBR article by Dr. Emma Seppala below, 2) a job must, first and foremost, be able to support the employee’s basic needs. We, mankind, have spent our entire lives to prepare to enter the workforce for one thing and one thing only: to bring home the bacon.

This can be particularly hard for most manufacturing employees, especially the hourly workers; these hardworking individuals, who spend 8-12+ hours, 5-6 days a week at all times of the day on their feet, lifting, bending, and sweating their way to around $12/hour, can sometimes barely afford their basic needs, (i.e. food, shelter, and clothing). And what about if they have a family, children they’re trying to provide for? Unfortunately, these adorable offspring can be money consumers, especially when it comes to daycare while said employee needs to go to work; a major catch-22.

So, based on what Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs suggests (3), if an employee can not fulfill his/her basic needs at home (safety needs), how is he/she to expect to perform well at work (self-actualization needs)? I do see, internalize, and experience these hardships that many labor employees deal with in the manufacturing world and other industries. Our modern economic system has almost brought back a majority of us to the stone-age where we’re worried how we’re going to get food on the table day-to-day despite being employed full-time. Millenials even jokingly describe how difficult it can be to just get out of bed on your own with a freshly-brewed cup of coffee to get to work on time through the term “adulting,” (Google it if you aren’t familiar with the term).

Despite this comical stance on an otherwise serious “survival” issue, providing a livable salary gives manufacturers several benefits. When an employee has reasonable compensation to provide for all their basic needs and cover life’s unpredictable issues, employees will stay at their jobs longer reducing the turnover rate, give their full focus on the job at hand because they’re not worried about their home-life, recommend the company to their friends outside of work, be less stressed overall, and develop a stronger sense of loyalty knowing the company does truly care about their well-being. Like training, there are few better returns on investments (ROI) for manufacturers. Unlike training, the ROI won’t capture the additional benefits manufacturers can obtain from the employee and their peace of mind obtained from the employee transcending beyond the safety needs level of Maslow’s hierarchy system.

Tweet me what your company does for compensation that you appreciate or is unique compared to the basic compensation package, (salary, insurance, and 401K).


(2) Seppala, E. (2014). The Hard Data on Being a Nice Boss. Retrieved February 28, 2016, from

(3) Simons, J. A., Irwin, D. B., & Drinnien, B. A. (n.d.). MASLOW’S HIERARCHY OF NEEDS. Retrieved February 28, 2016, from

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  1. There is a definite problem of affordability in our country (and others). Minimum wage should be able to pay the bills for a single person, living somewhere in our country. Not anywhere they want, but somewhere, and it currently doesn’t. It should NOT be expected to pay the bills for that person to make choices beyond their means. The example of a $12/hr employee unable to support their kids isn’t a good example. That’s a person who made bad choices. One kid at $12/hr is an accident. Multiples is an ostrich. I think about the woman who wrote the letter to Yelp. She had a college degree, moved across country for a low paying job in SFO, and is mad about it. She should be…at herself. A person making that choice should understand that it’s an investment, and not all of them pay off.

    For 25 years I have watched employees making far less than I do, with larger families, buy vehicles and vacations that I deem I cannot afford. Year after year after year. Maybe I’m too conservative, I think. But then they ask for a payroll advance….

    As to a “livable” salary, it seems that sometimes this does end up sorting itself out. Companies in high cost areas have problems finding and keeping folks at a low wage, so they move the plant to a lower cost area. At some point, equilibrium is found by both buyers (of jobs) and sellers (of skills). In cases like Disney (where my ex wife worked for well well well below a living wage in LA ) people took those jobs not for the immediate return, but understanding it was a resume asset. I don’t think either was upset by the arrangement, but we were certainly Top Ramen eating inconvenienced for a while there.

    I will say that in college I had a professor who took two weeks out of our syllabus to teach us basic budgeting. As he said “we teach you how to get a job and make money. Nobody teaches you what to do, and not to do with it, so I’m going to give it a shot.” That would be a good add to “common core.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, SC! Another very good point, and it appears you wrote my follow-up blog post on this 🙂


  2. […] financial luxury to afford having a family anymore even if both parents are working, (additional thoughts on […]


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