Ian Ferguson: No Salary Increases Without Productivity

Most members of the workforce are dissatisfied with their current pay scale. Everyone wants to make more money. Everyone believes they deserve more. They view their value to the organisation as greater than their compensation on a weekly, bi-monthly or monthly basis. Naturally, pay scale (high or low) is all relative and based on a person’s perceptions.

What is true regarding pay in the Bahamas is the fact that Bahamians are, generally speaking, better paid than their professional counterparts in the entire region excluding the US and Canada. What has also proven to be true is that levels of productivity, efficiency and skills competence are lower here, despite people being more highly paid.

We have heard so many conversations regarding ‘pricing ourselves out of the market’, or the great difficulty we have in being able to compete with our regional counterparts in many respects, including the tourist dollar, but everyone wants to evade the wage and salary discussion. It is a necessary one, since the employer (including the Government), seems unable to get the value from the employee for what they pay in wages and salary.

Somehow the message must be sent clearly that in order to even begin a conversation on increasing salariers, some significant improvements must be made in the current level of employees productivity at all levels. Additionally, employees must not hold their employers hostage for salary hikes when they themselves know they have not added additional value to the organisation or the people they serve.

As the job market makes ready to open, and hotel properties begin their search for top talent in the country, many employers will perhaps feel pressured to offer increased salaries to retain their talented employees. This, sadly, further widens our productivity and efficiency gaps, where persons are overpaid for performing quite menial tasks. Even untrained national economists can speak with certainty of the dire consequences of this action.

The Bahamas, two generations ago, told its youth that if you qualified yourself amply and earned a professional degree, or some other form of tertiary-level certification, this would automatically position you to demand the salary that you wanted.

Anyone who has paid any attention to our current state of affairs realises that, if in fact these days ever existed, they no longer do. While professional qualifications and certifications may get you a foot in the door and a reasonable salary for that field, the high income earners are those who demonstrate that they present a greater value in performance to the organisation.

Essentially, I am stirring the waters by saying without apology that the ‘salary increase’ conversation must be taken off the table until, as individuals, we are able to tangibly demonstrate we can deliver what we have promised to our companies and customers.

NB: Ian R. Ferguson is a talent management and organisational development consultant, having completed graduate studies with regional and international universities. He has served organsations, both locally and globally, providing relevant solutions to their business growth and development issues. He may be contacted at tcconsultants@coralwave.com.


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