Posts Tagged ‘compensation; performance; job satisfaction’

Disclosing Compensation

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

All nonprofit universities must file Form 990 with the IRS each year. This form discloses the financial health of the organization including its assets, lobbying activities, and fundraising practices. Tucked away in Schedule J, the university must also reveal the salaries of the leaders and its five highest-compensated employees.

BU made its form available on the web, an admirable act of transparency. Page 61 lists the salaries, deferred compensation, and nontaxable benefits of 15 key employees. Seven of them are affiliated with the medical campus.

The highest paid active employee on the BU payroll is Dr. Jeffrey Spiegel, Chief of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, who earned $1,282,130. From his website, it looks like Dr. Spiegel is an active researcher and clinician who offers everything from brow lifts to facial feminization. Timothy Foster, an orthopedic surgeon, earned $1,072,930–nearly $30,000 more than the university president.

The procedures these surgeons perform clearly generate sufficient revenue to justify their salaries. In some cases, they may be accepting a pay cut to work in an academic medical center. There’s no reason to suspect a scandal. To the contrary, if all employees’ salaries were made publicly available, it would clear up rumors and provide a clear guide to what the institution values.

For reports from other universities and hospitals, consult GuideStar.

Why We Work

Friday, June 4th, 2010

Dan Ariely is a psychologist and author. His first book, Predictably Irrational, described real-life examples of how people make economic decisions. Instead of using mathematical models, he set up experiments (many with MIT students) to show that people often act in irrational ways.

He spoke on NPR recently about his new book, The Upside of Irrationality.  One of the axioms he tested was whether receiving more money stimulates people to work more effectively. He found, counterintuitively, that when offered big bonuses to do small tasks, people flubbed more often than when offered small bonuses.

Another experiment showed that even when people were paid for a task like building structures from Lego, they lost motivation if they saw the work undone. His findings do not argue for eliminating paychecks, but rather encourage us to treat the relationship between salary and performance as indirect. Satisfaction at work comes from more than just money.