As a graduate with a four-year Bachelor of Science Degree in Interior Design, my number one goal when graduating was to become a salaried designer. I knew that if I wanted to be fairly compensated for my work, I needed to know my self-worth without being entitled, and should be confident enough to negotiate my first paycheck. I was tired of working for a measly hourly wage (so I thought!) and I could not wait to enter adulthood with a consistent and steady income. I was in for a rude awakening.
With any type of legal matters, especially for an employer, there are ways to cut corners for fair compensation. It seemed that where hourly work could be cut to be held just under “full-time,” the opposite was true for salaried work. I was working my second full-time salaried position as a designer when I realized I was expected to get to work an hour early, and stay at least an hour past 5:00, the leaving time. This however was still not even the hours I was expected to work, as I would log 55-65 hour weeks, while compensation was a salary, based on 40 hours a week 8am-5am. That employer would explain that it was for my own benefit because of traffic, and that with this type of work, long hours are required to get the job done right. I do not disagree that long hours are sometimes necessary, and that doing it right, matters more than “the clock” sometimes. What I fundamentally disagree on, is that any employee should work for free! It’s basic business, employees should be compensated for working – That was always how the equation worked when I was being taught the merits of business, even in grade-school.
As I am on the verge of a new business venture, where I will certainly need full-time employees, my mind-set has not changed in the slightest. Even more so now, I believe that fair and transparent compensations of my employees is at the for-front of my business model. There are many ways to compensate an employee however, with bonuses, commissions, paid time-off, benefits like healthcare and 401(k) matching, and accolades and rewards. The list is much longer, but the fact remains, there is no reason a company should not do everything to compensate, inspire, and empower their employees to make the lives they want for themselves. I view my employees as the most important asset my business will have. I plan to protect those assets with fair compensation, payment for all working hours (even for salaried employees), in all the forms possible. Compensation has been described as two separate fields of balance between employee compensation, and balancing the businesses’ financial goals. I however, have the goal within my business to fairly compensate all employees, pay all bills, and manage all expenses, not to make loads of profit that sit in various accounts and funds to spend on making more profits and funds. So a balance is created by switching the goals of the business venture, to benefit the employees, (myself included!) which in turn, benefits the business as a whole.