Making promises you don’t expect to keep to reel in prospective hires might not be the most ethical recruitment strategy, but research suggests it might not be bad for morale.
Researchers at the University of Toronto found that the satisfaction people get from pay raises and other rewards isn’t affected by their expectations. Two employees given the same pay raise are likely to be equally happy with it, even if one had been promised much more and the other much less. Well rewarded workers feel that promises to them have been kept, poorly rewarded ones that they have been broken, even when this contradicts how they understood those promises at the time.
[R]esearchers recruited students at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, who were enrolled on courses that included four months of paid work experience.
Before starting their placements, the students were asked to rate the promises they had been offered. Three months into the job, more than 380 of the students reported what inducements they had in fact received, and the extent to which they felt promises had been broken.
Again, perceptions of broken promises depended mainly on what was delivered, rather than any discrepancy with what they earlier reported had … been offered.
The researchers hope their results will encourage employers to reward employees more highly, not to lie to them more freely. We hope so too, but we wouldn’t bet on it.
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