Forgive me . . . The old Steely Dan song popped into my head for a headline today, but, truly, this post is meant to be uplifing . . . in a way.
Earlier this week the business section of the Chicago Tribune delighted readers with this stunning headline: "More feeling underpaid." Hmm, I thought, really? According to some data provided by the U.S. Labor Department workers haven´t seen a significant rise in their incomes for three years. Naturally, that made me wonder about their drive to continue to work hard and their ability to maintain hope that their incomes will in fact increase at some point in the near future. The problem is that there seems to be a disconnect: A lot of employers think they´re paying competitive rates. And what does that do for morale?
Employers simply can´t always keep up with the cost of living, particularly when filling up your gas tank costs as much as a casual Saturday night dinner out. This is where employee development can be maybe not a star but at the very least a supporting player. It´s true that some people view pay differently. Older workers, for example, tend to value pay increases more than their younger counterparts. Still, if a company can´t afford to pay its workers "current market value" whatever that is then they need to investigate other ways to help people develop their careers. Some employees move to other positions in order to get a pay increase, but some people don´t want the additional responsibility that comes with that. People seem to still be a little apologetic about their desires to steer clear of a management track. They don´t want the responsibilities and the associated headaches. So how can they increase their wages?
It´s a problem, but there are some workers, especially younger, Generation Y employees, who really want to build their skills and look to their employer for that kind of development. This is a golden opportunity for employers who, contrary to what they believe, really aren´t keeping up with the Jones´s Inc. We´ll always want more money-cash enhances our quality of life. But increasing our skills enhances our quality of life, too, especially if those skills can advance our careers.
I think one of the problems is that employers don´t always believe what their people tell them. Some assume, I think, that if they can´t make someone happier by giving them more money, then there´s nothing else they can do. Add that to an employer´s unwillingness to look at employees as individuals. Like I said earlier, older workers have different needs than younger employees, so doesn´t that mean there might be different ways to train them? I´ll do a little research in this area and let you know what I come up with.