Three Compensation Points to Ponder

The construction industry had a bit of a decrease in starts at the end of 2018 only to again be on the rise as we continue towards the mid-year mark.  According to AGC and Chief Economist Ken Simonson, construction employment continues to rise as the number of employees based in construction surpassed the employment high of 2008 in January 2019.

What has changed in the workforce since 2008?  Up until this year, salaries in the construction industry had not returned to where they were in 2008.  Now, we are clearly seeing the increases in salaries on the management side, and the wisdom of George Bernard Shaw plays out with his quote of “The price of ability does not depend on merit but on supply and demand.

From an expectation standpoint let’s talk about a few double-edged swords for employer and employee when it comes to compensation.

1. The higher an employee’s wages are, the more responsibility it brings to both the employee and the employer.

You bought a car with a payment of $1200/month based on the performance ratings and its ability to get you to work faster, more comfortably and with less attention needed instead of buying the car that was $1000/month.  It might seem like the only monetary difference is $2400/year, but in actuality: The insurance (aka: tax burden) on the more expensive one is higher, You need to park it in a special place, The speed is really not noticeable, The maintenance is just as much, if not more.  The reasons you paid more for the car are not adding up and now, every time you see that car, all you see is your overpayment.  The car can’t feel, but if it did it wouldn’t be the love it expected to get.

2. You hold an employer hostage for a large increase in the middle of a project that has already been budgeted for, rather than addressing salary demands during your scheduled performance reviews.

A great roommate agreed to split the rent with you 50/50 for the next two years so you can afford to live where you do and still have money left to pay your other expenses. At the end of year one, your roommate says they will stay, but can only pay 1/3 of the rent.  They are a great roommate, but they have forced you to make a decision, you can either keep them as a roommate and take a chance that you will be in the red each month or you can find another roommate who agrees to the 50%.

The roommate and you may part ways, although I am sure you will no longer describe them as great. They did not keep their commitment. In construction when you leave a project, it demonstrates lack of commitment and will most likely come up in references future.

3. They made me an offer I can’t refuse and so I am leaving. Nothing is wrong they are just paying me substantially more than I get now. 

They called me from an old profile I had on and they seem as attractive as my current spouse so I was curious.  I met them for dinner and they invited me to live in their waterfront condo and wine and dine me. You’ve been good to me, but you can’t spoil me like that.

Most people use the phrase ‘A Bird in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush‘ when they call to say they are chasing the money instead of taking a chance with someone who is discussing their financial and professional career path with them and a mutual future.  The real meaning of the phrase ‘A Bird in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush‘ is equivalent to saying that it’s better to hold onto something one has already than to risk losing it by trying to attain something better.

Twenty-five years of match-making in the construction industry and more stories than you can imagine.  One of my sayings “If you are leaving your employer, other than to achieve a career goal they can’t offer you, it is a conversation and not a resignation.”  Money is not a career goal.  Money is the payment for your part in achieving the company goals.

Points to Ponder,

Suzanne Breistol

1 Comment
  • Mike Meyer

    I always find your articles interesting, enjoyable and intringuing.
    Thanks for publishing them.
    Mike Meyer

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