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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

Perform, Then Pay

By Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir





http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q. I'm thinking of giving my workers an incentive by paying them according to their output. Are there any Jewish lessons for this question?


A. Paying workers according to output can be an effective way of increasing effort and can also have positive ethical consequences, as those workers who are more productive are able to benefit personally from their contribution. But it also has many ethical pitfalls. Among them:

  • Workers' output may suffer for reasons beyond their control;
  • Workers may end up favoring their own output over the output of colleagues, thus creating destructive intra-organizational competition;
  • Workers may end up favoring output over quality, leading to declines in product quality;
  • Workers may end up favoring output today over output tomorrow, and scrimp on maintenance etc. in order to reap bonuses in the short run.

In this week's column and those following, we will see how some of these considerations are reflected in Talmudic discussions, and suggest how these discussions may inspire ethical compensation systems in today's work environment.

"Performance related pay" can induce fairer results because workers are paid less when they are less industrious, but it can also result in unfair results because workers are paid less due to circumstances beyond their control. A well-known Talmudic passage relates to this reality:

    Porters hired by Rabba bar bar Chanan [accidentally] broke a barrel of wine. He took their coats [as security for the damages due him]. They went before [the magistrate] Rav. Rav said to him, give them back their coats. He said, is this the law? He said, Yes, as it is written (Proverbs 2), "In order that you should go in the way of the good." He gave them their coats. [Then] they said to him, we are poor, and we worked all day, and we are hungry, and we have nothing. [Rav] said to [Rabba], give them their wages. He said, is this the law?! He said, Yes, as it is written (Proverbs 2:?) "and keep the paths of the righteous."(1)

The commentators explain that the breakage was a nearly unavoidable accident. While Rabba bar bar Chanan was technically within his rights to demand damages, the judge Rav felt that this outcome was inequitable and demanded that Rabba do the right thing and pay the workers their wages. (Rav's instructions were not necessarily a formal court judgment.)

Letter from JWR publisher

In parallel to this Talmudic case, we may say that while there is no formal legal impediment to PRP, we should take into account the ethical difficulty involved in depriving someone of their pay due to circumstances beyond their control.

The second consideration we made is breakdown of teamwork due to internal strife and competition. This problem is also mentioned in the Talmud:

    At first, any [Kohen] who wanted to perform the service of removing [the burnt remains from] the altar could do so. If there were many, they would run and ascend the ramp [to the altar]. Whoever preceded his fellow by four paces, won. . . Once it happened that two were even as they ran up the ramp and one pushed the other, and he fell and broke his leg. Once the tribunal saw that this led to danger, they ruled that the selection would only be done by lottery. (2)

Again, this source does not show that there is any legal impediment to internal competition. But it does remind us that whenever we establish a competition to stimulate positive conduct – in this case, to have the candidates demonstrate their enthusiasm for performing the Temple service – it also has the potential to stimulate negative conduct – in this case, one person pushing his rival and causing harm.

Next week we will continue with some other potential ethical drawbacks to PRP.


SOURCES: (1) Babylonian Talmud, Bava Metzia 83a (2) Babylonian Talmud, Yoma 22a

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JWR contributor Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir, formerly of the Council of Economic Advisers in the Reagan administration, is Research Director of the Business Ethics Center of Jerusalem, Jerusalem College of Technology.

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