Paycheck Lottery

What follows is a series of thoughts and questions about how we get paid, I should stick with the sexy hook and just say compensation models, now I’ve gotcha. Think of this as an exploration in curiosity, there could be right answers, there could be wrong answers, there could be no answers, but new ideas are always worth exploring. I’ll keep this short on words, so we can keep it long on imagination.

The idea of agreeing on a wage, doing some work and then getting paid for that work pretty much hasn’t changed since the invention of “work” (yes, I know, paid work). Does knowing the exact amount of each paycheck help or harm your financial decisions? Does it constrain you or set you free?

Does knowing someone else’s salary either make you feel at least some twinge of resentment or arrogance? Regardless of how hard you try not to. Does this impact how hard you work or how willing you are to help someone else?

What if I told you…wait, wrong intro, that’s for the TED talk.

Let me introduce the paycheck lottery, because “Hey, you never know” (thank you NYLottery.gov) A company designates a pool of money to pay its employees, nothing new here. Each employee is promised an annual salary in a range. Each pay cycle, your salary is determined at random within the confines of the pool of money for that period.

You may receive .01% (The Loser) or even 99.99% (The Winner). Odds are this won’t happen too frequently and you will fall somewhere in between but the possibility is tantalizing. One week you got $1, and two weeks later you got $15,000. Most weeks you get somewhere in or near the middle. (The Average)

Is this too scary to comprehend? Maybe we adjust it so the extreme events don’t happen so often. Would this make you go crazy? Would you be excited or terrified every other week? Is the only possibility to plan properly so you don’t blow all your money because you need to pay rent next month and maybe eat a little? Would you become more entrepreneurial and try to find some side work?

Would you help your colleagues out in the good times? Do you think they would help you out in the bad?

Would this make you work more as a team? Do we all perform at 100% all the time and deserve every penny we make? Performance has variability, so why not pay.

Part of me wants to believe that taking the pay out of the hands of the people and putting into the hands of math could relieve a lot of problems of fairness in the world and shine a light where there doesn’t need to be darkness.

I would like to think that I could do this myself, not sure I could take the stress at first, but perhaps like all things it becomes the norm and I just get used to it.

Would love to hear your (randomly generated) thoughts.