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Pay Your Staff Peanuts? All You Get Are Monkeys

Nothing says “I really appreciate what you do here” like paying the lowest wage possible does.

I have worked in 3 different countries & 2 continents with well over a thousand plumbers in my 16 year career and I’ve seen both sides of the coin re: paying your staff well vs poorly.

From the lowest paid job I ever held, working as a maintenance plumber at BBC television center in London on £6 p/h ( or $7USD p/h) to EBA (unionised) construction sites in Australia for over $50 AUD p/h +  benefits ($37.92 USD p/h)

I’m going to set out in this article as to why I believe paying your plumbers well is good business.

Attracting and retaining talent

It’s no surprise that 61% of people in a 2015 survey say they chose to take on new positions based on how much they would get paid. So if you’re an employer who thinks it’s good business to pay staff low wages, you only have access to 39% of the ‘talent pool’ (probably the bottom 39%.)

You then have to convince those plumbers to stay. It shouldn’t come as a surprise if your staff leave you for a higher paying job within a short period.

Higher paid staff is good for business

Dr. Noelle Nelson states in her book ‘Make More Money by Making Your Employees Happy‘ that “companies that effectively appreciate employee value enjoy a return on equity & assets more than triple that experienced by firms that don’t.”

When looking at Fortune’s ‘100 Best Companies to Work for’ stock’s rose an average of 14% per year from 1998-2005, compared to an average of 6% for the rest of the marketplace.

A study released by Bright Horizons, a provider of employer-sponsored child care, education, and work/life solutions, found that 89% of staff with high levels of well-being reported high job satisfaction. Nearly two thirds of those employees reported consistently putting in extra effort at work. Happy employees are more productive employees, which positively effects the bottom line.

While money is not the only motivating factor in job satisfaction, we do know that for at least 61% of people it’s the first thing they think about.

The case for higher wages? Having more productive & loyal staff.

When you underpay someone, you’re telling them they’re less than average

If good plumbers know they can be appreciated for top dollar at a good business, why would they stay working for peanuts at a firm where they feel underutilised / underappreciated? You would have to convince him that they are worth less (…or worthless). What a great motivator to be loyal & put in their best work…

This I know first hand. I mentioned before I was paid about $8 bucks p/h working at the BBC (the UK broadcaster). You would think working at such a prestigious organisation would be great…it wasn’t. I lasted 2 weeks, I literally quit the day I got my first paycheck. Two days after leaving I landed a gig building plant rooms on £23 p/h ($28.05 USD) where I remained until the end of the project.

If your goal is to attract and retain good plumbers the formula is quite simple.

  1. Recruit the best plumbers you can
  2. Make sure they have purpose and are empowered (i.e not micromanaged or mistrusted)
  3. Make sure they’re valued & appreciated, and that they know it
  4. Pay them well

If you can’t afford to pay your plumbers well then you have one of two problems:

  1. You’re a tight ass.
  2. Your business is failing and the only way you can remain solvent is by being a tight ass.

While there are many other contributing factors in employment satisfaction, I felt that remuneration deserved its own post.