At some point in my career I determined that the amount of money I was making paralleled the amount of respect I felt within an organization, which in turn impacted how hard I worked for said organization.
For example, in a large telecommunications company that I knew was making billions of pesos annually, I was being paid a 10,000 peso salary (negotioated up from an insultingly low 8000 pesos a month). For the amount of work they were giving me, and for the experience I already had in that field (mobile games), I felt slighted, but took the job because I was desperate for work at the time. I lasted 3 months, a quarter of which was spent online looking at job listings. My motto at the time was “you aren’t paying me enough to do this shit!”
My next job paid roughly 35,000 pesos, working for a smaller, foreign run company that treated its staff well and had a flexi-time schedule that allowed us to check in at any time we wanted and check out once our 9 hours was up. While the work was rather monotonous at times I liked the people there and felt like my opinion was (sometimes) being listened to. I would joke to my fellow artist friend that I could no longer claim that they weren’t paying me enough to do this shit, and thus I felt pressured to work hard enough to make sure I didn’t lose this job.
After this last job, I was offered a position with an indie studio out of San Fransisco called Disco Pixel. It was made up of game industry vets and they were interested in taking me on as their lead artist, a position that I now admit I was probably wholly unprepared for. They offered me a ridiculous sum of money (cheap according to industry standards but still a veritable goldmine for me) that to this day I’m uncomfortable talking about. While it was a terrific ride and I learned a hell of a lot from the people I was working with, the amount of money they were paying me really pushed me to work as hard as I could to justify their hiring me. I was perpetually plagued with feelings of insecurity, and shrugged it off by putting more hours than I really needed to, doing and redoing art assets to as close as I could get to perfection, and basically working my ass off so that at the end of the day I wouldn’t feel guilty about the money they were paying me. I felt like they’d given me so much respect that I couldn’t afford to let them down. The jury’s still out on that, but we were hit by a series of unfortunate events (collectively called the financial crisis) and had to shut down in the 3rd quarter of last year.
As a corollary to the original theory, my feeling of respect can be adjusted by the amount of money the organization I’m working for is making. In effect, if I know you’re a multi-million dollar earning company and you’re paying me 20000 pesos a month, I’d probably feel insulted. But if I know you’re a small company or an individual paying me the same amount, I will respect that and still work as hard for you as I possibly can.
Sometimes I wonder if this makes me a bad worker. Of course I rationalize that I’m just taking care of myself and my future. Like many an overpaid basketball superstar I feel like “I gots to get paid.” But at the end of the day it again comes down to respect. If I know that I’m not being screwed with and the people I’m working for are open and honest about their financial situation I’ll be a happy worker. Hell, I worked for Disco Pixel for about 3 months on deferred pay out of respect (and the possibility of being picked up by a publisher at the last minute) alone, so I think my conscience is clear.