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The Inflation Bonus

The Inflation Bonus

Not long ago, health care workers in unions in Rhode Island were given a  $3,000 bonus for receiving a vaccination. There was a huge and mighty outrage, but the union officials said it was a “normal” part of bargaining. The governor soon caved to pressure, and gave the bonus to all hospital employees. Them the teachers raised a fuss… (Teachers should raise a fuss about the poor educational experiences of students and not their own conditions from time to time.) Understandably, the citizens of Rhode Island began to ask why they were being vaccinated “for free.”

There is a rumor this morning that police unions are arguing for a bonus for officers who wear and use body cameras.

I once had a guy who worked for me who wanted a bonus for each prospect he visited. Not for a sale. Not for results. Just showing up, irrespective of whether he sold business (for which he’d receive a commission). He asked me, “What’s my incentive, otherwise, to make calls all day?” I told him, “Your job. You raise anything this stupid again while missing your own revenue quota and you’re gone.”

He did and he was.

Money is not a motivator, though the absence of money is a demotivator. (This is known as “hygiene theory” and goes back to psychologist Fred Herzberg decades ago.) If you give an unhappy employee more money, you simply have a wealthier, unhappy employee. And that’s what we have in most unions, from the postal service to airlines. When people keep demanding more money for simply doing their jobs—or for doing what’s ethical and right—and we give it to them, without expecting improved performance, we create a consequence.

It’s known as inflation.

Written by

Alan Weiss is a consultant, speaker, and author of over 60 books. His consulting firm, Summit Consulting Group, Inc., has attracted clients from over 500 leading organizations around the world.

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