Hourly Pay



When I got to this country it was a surprise to me that jobs were paid by the hour. In my country the majority of jobs are by salary and the rest by production.

Back there, when you have a “salary” job it is really difficult to get a day off in the middle of the week since you still get paid for that day, but don’t perform any work.

In a production job you get paid by unit produced if it meets the required standards. This is the kind of jobs I liked the most because, depending on how much was available to do, the amount paid was more in my hands to control.

In this last case obviously the idea is to continually find ways to work faster and more efficiently and discard any element that would reduce your production so you don’t get a reduced paycheck.

In the “increasing” area there were elements like getting all the tools needed at an arm distance, so just with slight body movements you could have everything you need to work without interruptions or wasting time.

In the “decreasing” area there were elements like not wasting time talking or looking around and just the minimum amount of breaks possible.

So when discovering that here most jobs are paid by the hour it really surprised me. Where is the motivation to work harder and faster? How do you increase your check?

It seems that the idea is to be paid by “presence” and not by performance. If I’m there eight hours every day I get a complete paycheck, even if I spent most of the time talking, drinking coffee or surfing the internet in the job’s computer and if I stay another hour after the first eight, I even get “overtime” pay (not bad to complete that football discussion)

If I want more money it seems about making the right “friends” rather than working harder and better; at least that is what I’ve seen in several jobs I’ve held for the past years.

At first it seems great for the worker since it is not about working hard but rather doing something for several hours a day, but the problem I see is that it is really tempting to create new techniques to avoid working, yet looking like working.

In several of those jobs I held in the past there was always the guy or gal who spent most of the time socializing instead of working, yet the same paycheck was given to them. Even worst, after decades of doing the same, some of this people even thought they were “hard workers” because they spent eight hours in a full time job and another four in a part time one, but in reality they contributed very little to the company extending those paychecks.

If it is possible to spend time without working hard then it is possible to spend more hours at jobs; basically you are passing the day somewhere else, but if you have to work at a fast pace without stopping, one job is enough and there is no energy left to take a second one.

And then what about the company’s profits, where you can find people who receive money they don’t generate with their amount of work?

From what I understand a company generates money with the products and/or services manufactures and/or delivered by its employees and a portion of that money is distributed back to these same employees for their services to the company, while a proportion of the collected money goes to the owner/investors who created and steer this company.

But what happens when, because of hourly pay or “paid by presence” instead of production or performance is the norm? Wouldn’t that in time create a percentage of “workers” that basically are profiting from the company without giving back enough to compensate for what they take?

And if this situation remains for years and decades and is a common one among many companies, wouldn’t that create a problem of increasing expenses and reduced profits for those companies? And what would be the solution for a company that seeks profits? No wonder why automation and remote workers has become a common issue these days!

I am not saying the system is wrong, but when considering human nature in the equation, it looks to me that the system is aimed in the wrong direction.

We all know that if the house in the corner don’t have a fence people walking by will cut thru the lawn in a curved path and only when a fence is installed that same people will go all the way around in a ninety degrees turn. That’s human nature.

So maybe the idea of hourly pay might be great, but considering human nature it could work against the intended, original purpose.

Just an observation


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4 Responses to Hourly Pay

  1. Every occupation is different. I spent twelve years as an administrative or executive assistant and my salary was always hourly. I had a yearly “salary” that I was told that I have assuming I didn’t take any leave without pay days or hours off that would take away from that. I was also able to work overtime for “time and a half” if there was work to do.

    “Where is the motivation to work harder and faster? How do you increase your check?”

    Well, if you’re an assistant, there isn’t much you can do to “increase your check” other than overtime if there is work available. You are pretty much stuck in the position unless there is an opportunity for advancement that might grant you a salary- but that depends on a lot of factors.

    As an assistant, my work was spread out throughout the day. If I finished what I had to do by 3:00PM, I still had to be at work in case the guys I supported needed something else.

    I guess it really depends on the occupation.

    Raul Reply:

    Hi Carla,

    Definitely every occupation is different and there are jobs that even though the pay could be salary or hourly, still the working enviroment can be very motivating.

    In those places you could work more for the professional in you than the money itself; but again, that could be the difference between a career and a job.

    Thank you for you comment.


  2. Kelvin Kao says:

    I’ve worked contracting jobs where we bill by the hour. But then, we always bill the same number of hours every week day and every week. If we work more than that, we absorb that ourselves. If we don’t work that many hours, then we are billing more hours than we actually worked. But since we don’t work at the client’s office, although it’s by hours, it’s more like per project. This adds another layer to it.

    But it’s true that, if the pay is based on how many hours I physically spend at a location, I have no incentive to finish things fast. If I do, I have no incentive to turn it in fast. So it does encourage me to just sit there and browse the web.
    .-= Kelvin Kao´s last blog ..Why I am No Longer a Gentleman =-.

  3. Raul says:

    The contracting jobs you mention could be like something in between the hourly paid jobs and the production ones.

    It is interesting to see what happens in these different situations; independent of what each person might think.


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