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Considering What They Pay Me

Original Spanish version published in America Economia (Latam) on June 22, 2018

The third Employability Survey prepared by LHH DBM Peru in 2017, taken by some 2,499 executives and professionals of all levels and types of economic sectors in Peru, provides an interesting fact: that although 30% of these executives and professionals feel very happy in their current job and 49% feel happy, 21% responded that they were not at all happy there.

This data brings to mind an experience I had at the airport some years ago. The lineup to pay the exit tax was huge and I was desperate because my flight was about to leave and there were about 20 travelers and tourists in front of me, all equally or more distressed than I by this lineup that did not move. I went to the window to see what was causing the delay, and I saw that the cashier was chatting happily with two of his colleagues, and, therefore, working very slowly.

I asked them politely if they could open the other window because there were a lot of us in the lineup, and we were all in a hurry to reach our flights. I will never forget what one of them told me: “We are at on our break, madam. You just have to be patient”. And the cashier looked right at me and replied with indifference: “Hurry, ma’am? What for? Considering what they pay me...”

Crestfallen and without hope, I returned to my place in the lineup. If someone works solely for the money and, in addition, feels badly paid, there is no reason or incentive whatsoever to work better or to provide good service.

I know that many of you will think: "But I work for money too." All the same, statistics show that there are three or four reasons why we work better and happier, and that these, for many, are even more motivating than money. These reasons are linked to opportunities for growth and professional development, with recognition, with the possibility of learning new things, and, above all, with the opportunity to feel appreciated in an organization. As we know, all of this is known as emotional salary —non-economic remuneration— a concept that we introduced in Peru almost 20 years ago. Clearly, emotional salary is not the only thing that motivates us or gets us to commit; nor am I saying that money is not important. It is and very much so, but it is certainly not the only significant factor for professional or job satisfaction. Both are important and complementary.

Seen from another perspective, I think it is vital that as providers of professional services, we keep in mind that even if our level of commitment or satisfaction is low or even very low, like the 21% in the sample —and this happens to all of us from time to time—, the results of our work should not be affected. This can irreparably damage our reputation as quality service providers.

In other words, our professional dissatisfaction, if any, is not an excuse or justification for poor work performance, since that ends up having a direct and decisive negative impact on the value of our brand.

Of course, this is a huge challenge to personal discipline, but we have to appeal to professional maturity and the value of our personal brand to contribute positively in any circumstance, even when we are not happy. And here, perhaps, it is worth remembering that all jobs are temporary and that they only last as long as they work for both parties.

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