Earnings Boost Could Be Price of Workplace Peer Pressure By High-Performing Co-Workers


Never let your co-workers see you sweat unless your salary has the potential to swell. A study conducted at the University of York found that inlow-skilled occupations, an increase of 10 percent in the average performance of co-workers raises a worker’s wage by almost one per cent.

The report, which included researchers at the Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration, University College London, observed that the boost in earnings likely stemmed from increased productivity because of the pressure to keep up with high-performing co-workers.

Wage records from administrative social security data for millions of workers and all their co-workers was examined over a period of 15 years across 330 professions in a large metropolitan area in Germany.

At first it was unclear if low-skilled workers learned from high-performing co-workers or if it was the pressure to keep up with them. The study found the latter to be true because when a high-performing co-worker left the company, those who remained did not maintain the same level of productivity. This indicated that the pressure to keep up with the performance was decreased, causing the low-skilled workers to remain stagnate in productivity and wages without the need to remain at the bar set by the high achiever.

Among the low-skilled jobs identified in the study were waiters, warehouse workers and cashiers. High skilled occupations such as lawyers, doctors and architects did not have the same findings possibly because it isn’t as easy to observe the working practices of their colleagues, according to the report.

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