If you have an employee who seems to continually be bothering you about not being paid enough, there are usually two possibilities: 1) You are a tightwad and you’re not paying them enough; or 2) the person is disgruntled about their role in the organization.
To find out if the answer is No. 1, make a few phone calls to managers you trust in your general geography and find out what your neighbors are paying for similar jobs in your industry. If you’re within 50 cents or so per hour, then move on to answer No. 2.
Some people are just better employees than others. If this person is worth more than the “scale”, you had better pay more to keep them. But “pay” can come in many forms. You can “buy” an employee’s loyalty and general job satisfaction with many perks other than another few cents or bucks per hour. Make sure your insurance, savings investment, and/or profit sharing plans are at least in line with the industry. This is especially important if this person has a family to look after. Non-monetary benefits include things like flexible time off. Those early mornings and long days are a lot easier to take if a person knows they can take Thursday afternoons off for a child’s ball game or whatever.
What about goals? Have you asked your employee what they want out of this position? They may want to move up in the organization or have opportunities for a management role elsewhere. You can be selfish about this or you can take on the role of mentor and teacher. By taking care of your employee and training them for a leadership role, they will most certainly be a better employee, and will have a harder time leaving for a different job. And even if they do leave for a different opportunity, they will give such a glowing report on your leadership and team approach, you can be certain to find a good, young person to replace them.
The question you need to ask yourself is, “Do you really want this person around for the long haul?” If you do, take some time to privately evaluate your plans, and then take some more time one-on-one with this employee to find out their long-term needs and goals. If you don’t want this person to remain in the organization, you still need to get your plans in order because after you inform this person they are not what your organization needs, you had better have a pretty good plan set up to attract a quality person to replace them.
Justin Waggoner, Ph.D., is a beef systems specialist at Kansas State University’s Southwest Area Extension Office in Garden City, Kansas. For more information, contact him at email@example.com.