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Human Behavior

How to Torture Your Employee by Only Giving Yourself a Raise


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Dear Employee,

As you know we had some unexpected setbacks this year and did not meet our numbers. As a result, we need to tighten our belts. One area this will impact is our ability to hand out bonuses this year. We know this is disappointing and we hope to resume our annual bonus plan next year. Thank you for understanding and happy holidays to you and yours.

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Dear Boss,

We, the employees, understand; so much so that we thought a great way to save on gas money would be if you gave each of us a ride to work in your new Porsche? It would only be a total of 32 trips all said and done.

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Why your torture plan will surely backfire

A bonus has come to be expected, but shouldn’t be. It’s a reward based on performance. It is absolutely okay if you can’t afford to give out bonuses when times are tough, but blatant self-centered splurges tap into the basic human need for fairness. When you show up to work in your new Porsche after crying financial hardship you potentially send feedback that can trigger disengagement and resentment. It’s in the same genre of when someone owes you money and hasn’t paid you back but suddenly has new shoes.

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Maybe Try this instead?

I think you’ll find the Honda Civic a smooth, reliable ride that offers great mileage. Just give it a chance. Or more aptly: don’t be that guy. It’s much harder to re-engage than it is to disengage and that kind of behavior is just plain old hard to forgive and forget.

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