By Gordon Hecht

There’s been an awful lot of talk in the news and social media lately about pay rates.

I’ve invested most of my career working within an incentive-based compensation plan (paid in commish). Working on commission means getting rewarded on exactly what you bring into the company, so I’m not an authority on what comprises a fair wage for other job roles.

Related: What’s Better, Sales Commissions or Salaries?

Working a job and the ensuing paycheck don’t reflect the true value that is received by employee and company. On the employer side you need to add in the taxes, social security cost, health insurance contribution and other benefits like paid vacation or tuition reimbursement.  On the employee side, there’s a value contributed in travel time or living space devoted to working from home, along with the investment in work clothes, whether that’s a uniform or fancy dress. And for retail employees there’s value given in working nights, holidays and weekends.

But the greatest unaccounted value that you receive from working at a job is the education you get from the experience. Gaining transferrable skills and knowledge that last a lifetime are worth at least 20 percent more than the actual pay rate.

Think about your first real job — not mowing lawns or babysitting, but the one where you got a paycheck with taxes deducted. You probably earned minimum wage or close to it. But you also got the opportunity to develop work and life skills that you still use today. Such learnings include:

•    How to dress for work

•    How to show up on time and clock out at day’s end

•    How to greet people or answer a phone

•    Respect for your supervisor and co-workers

•    A half-hour lunch means 30 minutes

•    Prioritizing and organizing the workday

•    Understand the value of labor, the rewards it brings, and not wasting those rewards.

Amazingly, somebody paid you to learn that. You could spend $10,000 to $100,000 or more on a college education and no one would teach those skills.

Provide that 20-percent learning bonus value. You’ll reduce turnover when you create an atmosphere that promotes and encourages skill development.

Gordon Hecht is a business growth and development consultant to the retail home furnishings industry. You can reach him at