Can a Wage Increase Make Employees More Productive?

by Feb 28, 2024

In California, the upcoming minimum wage boost for fast food workers to $20 starting April 1st has ignited discussions about its potential influence on worker productivity. 

Currently, the median hourly wage for fast-food workers in the U.S. is $13.43, while in California, it stands at an average of $16.60 per hour.

Examining the connection between minimum wage hikes and productivity reveals a nuanced picture. 


Wage Increase and Productivity

Research suggests that fair compensation can positively influence worker engagement and task performance. 

Dr. Nicola Persico, a Kellogg School of Management professor, emphasizes that a higher minimum wage creates greater attachment among workers to employers. Yet, the scenario is not uniform across industries and regions. 

The UCLA Labor Center’s research shows issues within the fast food sector, such as wage theft, denial of breaks, overtime pay issues, workplace injuries, harassment, and retaliation.

Considering this, would workers want to stay with a company that harms their well-being? If the minimum wage increases, companies should also improve their workers’ well-being.


What can Make Employees More Productive?

Wages impact work in different ways, mainly by affecting how motivated and happy workers are. Motivated workers do better, enjoy their jobs, and work well. 

While pay is a big motivator, just giving raises might not solve everything. 

How you manage your team is crucial to a company’s success. It’s about creating a workplace where everyone feels connected to the company’s values and receives fair compensation.

As stated in an HBR report, a positive workplace is more successful over time because it increases positive emotions and well-being. 

Notably, it serves as a buffer against negative experiences like stress, enhancing employees’ resilience in overcoming challenges and bolstering their overall health. Additionally, a positive workplace is known to attract and retain employees, foster loyalty both to the leader and the organization, and bring out their best strengths.


Creating a Positive Work Culture

The ROI of a Positive Workplace

You’ve probably heard about employee empowerment, engagement, and culture. When employees feel empowered and engaged in a positive work atmosphere, they really get into their tasks and keep working hard to help your business grow.

Creating a positive work culture is vital for keeping employees happy, productive, and helping the organization succeed. A positive work environment leads to higher employee satisfaction, which in turn boosts productivity and reduces turnover rates. Happier employees are more engaged, creative, and committed to their work, resulting in increased efficiency and innovation.

Giving employees the freedom to make decisions and trusting them fosters a sense of ownership and commitment. When companies prioritize these elements, they create a workplace where people feel appreciated, motivated, and dedicated to the company’s success.

If you want to maximize your team’s productivity, especially with minimum wage changes, our Culture Consulting can help. We’ll work with you to create a positive workplace where your team feels valued and motivated, and we’ll help you reduce and even eliminate workplace bullying, discrimination, and/or harassment. 

Feel free to reach out if you have any questions!  

PS: We’re making our course, Strategic HR, free for you! So, pass this along to anyone who would benefit from it!

Civility is the platform for organizational success—it is absolutely necessary for an organization to reach its goals. Download our Ebook on Seeking Civility to learn more on how to create a workplace free of bullying and abusive conduct.


About Catherine Mattice

Catherine Mattice, MA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is President of consulting and training firm, Civility Partners, and has been successfully providing programs in workplace bullying and building positive workplaces since 2007. Her clients include Fortune 500’s, the military, several universities and hospitals, government agencies, small businesses and nonprofits. She has published in a variety of trade magazines and has appeared several times on NPR, FOX, NBC, and ABC as an expert, as well as in USA Today, Inc Magazine, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, and more. Catherine is Past-President of the Association for Talent Development (ATD), San Diego Chapter and teaches at National University. In his book foreword, Ken Blanchard called her book, BACK OFF! Your Kick-Ass Guide to Ending Bullying at Work, “the most comprehensive and valuable handbook on the topic.” She recently released a second book entitled, SEEKING CIVILITY: How Leaders, Managers and HR Can Create a Workplace Free of Bullying.

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