Would you take a pay cut so your colleague could have a pay rise?

I watched a very interesting programme last week about Pimlico Plumbers, where the CEO decided that he was fed up with people knocking on his door every two minutes asking for a pay rise so he asked everyone to share with each other how much they were paid. The results were startling with many people doing exactly the same job but being paid up to £9k less.

This brought back memories of when I worked for my first PR agency and management called everyone to a meeting and asked everyone to vote on whether they would take a pay cut for six months or keep their current salary and watch the business make three/four redundancies.

I remember at the time it was a no brainer to take the pay cut for my colleagues but now with a wife addicted to ebay, a two and a half year old and a mortgage would I be so generous? A very difficult decision but I hope I would make the right one almost as much as I hope that I am never put in that situation again.

As well as getting me thinking the show taught me three things:

1. I wish I was a plumber……I couldn’t believe how much they were getting paid!!

2. The PR manager should get his pay rise if the show was his idea. What a great piece of positive PR for the business. An hour long show for a plumbing company that didn’t focus on blocked drains but how it was a caring business and forward thinking in its approach to HR.

3. More business should be open with their staff about how they can have an impact on salaries. I was really impressed with a group in the body work team who recognized that if they asked team mates to take pay cuts to help others it would lead to bad feelings, but if they analysed their costs in their department and put the savings towards pay rises for those in need of them, they could really make a difference.

What I’m not saying is that I want execs coming to me to say that they have stopped posting press releases on Real Wire so can they have the money instead but I do think everyone (regardless of industry) can be guilty of having tunnel vision and doing the job and not being aware of the costs that the job entails. Maybe if more people were aware of where they could make savings on top of delivering results it would be easier to distribute rewards.