Why Pay for Performance Only Works in Theory

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Why Pay for Performance Only Works in Theory

In this short paper I will explain why the statement “The introduction of individual pay for performance contributes to an improvement in a company's (financial) performance” is to my opinion not valid. Before we can jump into a reflection on the statement, two questions arise that will be discussed as an introduction “What is pay for performance?” and “Why is pay for performance considered as a system that might contribute to a company’s performance?”

What is pay for performance?

Pay for performance is a motivation concept in human resources, in which employees receive compensation for their work based on the level of reaching certain targets (individually or with their team, department or company). The term is often referred to when one is addressing the topic of variable pay based on performances. Although not generally recognised, the term pay for performance should, to my opinion, include as well, aside of variable pay, fixed pay and intrinsic rewards.

According to Dreher and Dougherty most current pay systems are not related to performance but only to circumstances and skills and competencies: ‘Most pay structures can be labelled job based pay (…). Some firms introduced a new pay system toward a skill- or competency based pay. In these systems employees are given pay increases as they acquire additional skills or competencies, not as they move to a job in a higher pay range’ .
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