bigger paychecks, better impact

by Corey Kohn

74b7b0a48ab6c209eae562f3561ed0c2.jpg It is accepted wisdom that there are valuable benefits to paying employees more. Paying people more than market rate has been shown to increase employee engagement and productivity, reduce turnover and its associated costs, mediate the need for expensive supervision and improve brands. Some of these benefits are measurable and concrete, some are subjective but the overall result of increasing pay has been found to be more profitable businesses. And while boosting profits is a great reason pay employees more, it there's another reason that may be exponentially more gratifying: creating real, tangible and personal impact.

A business' purpose, culture and operations can all contribute to cultivating a positive impact. That impact can be amplified and diversified by paying employees more. Transferring more of the wealth of a business to its employees can have a positive impact in unpredictable and manifold ways. Bigger paychecks allow businesses to make greater impact by investing in the most impactful sector of the philanthropic economy: individuals. Paying employees more supports those most likely to be generous philanthropists to give even more (the largest source of charitable giving comes from individuals at 71% of total giving, verses the 5% of total giving offered by corporations).

On top of supporting active philanthropy, paying more also creates the conditions and freedoms for people to create impact outside of the constructs of their jobs. When people have more than they need, they are more likely to contribute in their communities and in ways that a business cannot. It allows them spend their time, energy and money on activities that directly affect lives for the better. For instance, a raise recently offered at my company is now being used to offer more affordable, holistic birth-services support. Our part-time director of operations is also a doula, and her reaction to that increase in her paycheck was to make her services available to more clients without financial resources. In this way, my business was able to indirectly contribute to safer and more healthful births and more positive birth experiences for more people in our community.

Paying employees enough not have to work overtime or multiple jobs might allow them the time to volunteer, benefiting individuals, communities or environments. It may allow them pay for an education or activity for their children that could have life-long effects. It may allow their partners to do important unpaid work such as parenting, eldercare, art or writing.

Paying more makes a real impact in people's personal lives and in ways that we can't necessarily predict or measure. It is a concrete way to support the good that people already do and to amplify the powerful ripple effect of personal intentions and actions. Not only does it allow our businesses to flourish, it allows the individuals that make up our businesses to spread impact and do good in a way a business itself never can.