By Highgate Councillor Maya de Souza
At the Resources and Corporate Performance Scrutiny Commiteee meeting on Tuesday, I was surprised to see a proposal for the introduction of performance-related pay for officers at a senior level (that’s the 180 or so officers below the chief officers, who already receive performance-related pay). The excellent writing of recent years by the economist Richard Layard, and others, suggest that this is really not the sort of principle we should be applying if we are genuinely interested in well-being of staff or in efficient management, let alone all of the issues it raises for the community at this time of straightened finances.
Performance-related pay, bonus schemes etc spur people to act in an overly competitive way, worrying about their performance relative to others. This can affect their willingness to work as a team, it may mean that people look for projects that will make their name at the risk of unnecessary work being done, and it can encourage a long hours culture and poor work-life balance. It’s particularly bad at time of recession, when this can play on people’s insecurities.
I argued that Camden should be taking on board these factors in deciding what incentive system we need. It should look for systems of reward that encourage team work, and systems that do not require people to be even more competitive.
My fellow councillors were not however interested – they were more concerned that bonuses just weren’t going to be big enough! Little seems to have been learnt from the extreme example of a bonus culture that led to our financial system being derailed.
Camden should not be going down this route. It should be leading the way with good progressive employment practices.