Is It Worth It?

You have probably dealt with the issue of: is it worth it? Or better yet: what will make it worth it? For example: it’s the issue of babysitting. Your night is over, the parents just walked in from their night out, and their kids were monsters. Had you known the kids would be this bad, you would have charged the parents more than 10 dollars an hour. You have been thinking all evening: “I need to be paid more. 10 dollars/hr is definitely not enough.” Pretend you have decided to charge them more money.

Here’s the issue: how much is enough?

What if you determine you want 11 dollars/hr and you worked from 5pm-10pm. That’s only 5 additional dollars after a horrible night. Is 5 dollars worth it? Does 5 measly bucks justify your horrible night? It’s either 50 dollars in your pocket, or 55 dollars. Wow…

Here’s a better example: Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner wrote in their book, Freakonomics, about a study that was conducted by an Israeli day care center. They were having issues with parents arriving late to pick up their children.

The study lasted 10 weeks. For the first four weeks they had a sign posted asking parents to be on time picking up their children. They kept track of late arrivals for the entire month. After the first month, they enacted a fine of three dollars per incident. They tracked the number of late arriving parents and it increased. Why?

Because three dollars wasn’t enough. It was a great deal for the parents, but it certainly wasn’t worth it to the employee who had to stay late.

Don’t make a mockery of your extra work by asking for a higher amount because when it’s all over you’ll ultimately realize the extra compensation still didn’t make it worth it. In the babysitting example the sitter should not ask for 11 dollars because the parents will think their child was only 1 dollar/hr more awful than usual and they won’t grasp what kind of night you had. Earning 5 more dollars is worthless in determining the value of your labor.

In closing, asking for extra compensation should not happen often. But when it’s necessary, make sure it’s worth it.


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