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When money worries subside, productivity rises

Can you imagine if your strategy as a boss was to increase the minimum salary at your organisation, having to cut your own salary, mortgage your home and Airbnb it in order to do so?

That's exactly what Gravity Payments' Dan Price did in 2015, amidst tepid reaction to the news from the suddenly more affluent staff, fierce protest from senior executives and hopes in the industry that the experiment would go down in flames.

Now? Sales have increased, staff are more involved in the success of the business, productivity has risen and even the company's 'baby count' has increased twenty-fold! 

The lesson is clear: when the need to make money is not at the forefront of your mind when you're doing your job, your focus moves to productivity and motivation. A happy employee is an asset. If the staff's immediate material concerns are covered, people work harder, enjoy what they do, workloads get reduced and everyone is able to take time off with families and interests.

It may seem a bizarre strategy but it makes perfect sense, doesn't it? So why doesn't everybody do it....?

In 2015, the boss of a card payments company in Seattle introduced a $70,000 minimum salary for all of his 120 staff and personally took a pay cut of $1m. Five years later he's still on the minimum salary, and says the gamble has paid off. Before 1995 the poorest half of the population of the United States earned a greater share of national wealth than the richest 1%, he points out. But that year the tables turned - the top 1% earned more than the bottom 50%. And the gap is continuing to rise. In 1965, CEOs in the US earned 20 times more than the average worker but by 2015 it had risen to 300 times (in the UK, the bosses of FTSE 100 companies now earn 117 times the salary of their average worker).

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