A sense of entitlement is all very well – but what about a pay rise?
Companies are always on the lookout for cheap ways to reward their employees, and what could be cheaper than a grandiose title or a purely symbolic “employee of the month” award? As the comic-strip character Dilbert’s pointy-haired boss once announced, “I’m promoting you from senior engineer to lead engineer. The pay’s the same but people will disrespect you less.”
企业总是在寻找奖励雇员的廉价方式，有什么能比冠冕堂皇的头衔、或者纯粹只有象征意义 的“月度最佳雇员”奖更廉价呢？正如连环漫画人物呆伯特(Dilbert)梳着尖头发的老板曾经通知他的：“我将把你从高级工程师提为首席工程师。薪水不 变，但人们会更加尊重你。”
Such tactics are not entirely new: more than 50 years ago, the humorist Michael Flanders created a dogmatic cannibal who was “chief assistant to the assistant chief”, and presumably he had a particular organisation man in mind. The Economist’s Schumpeter columnist, meanwhile, notes that in the 1940s the late Senator Robert Byrd held the title “exalted cyclops” in the Ku Klux Klan.
这些手段并不是全新的：50多年前，幽默作家迈克尔•弗兰德斯(Michael Flanders)创造了一个独断专行的食人者，头衔是“助理族长的首席助理”，恐怕他脑海里也有某个组织中特定的人吧。此外，《经济学人》(The Economist)专栏作家熊彼特(Schumpeter)指出，上世纪40年代，已故美国议员罗伯特•伯德(Robert Byrd)曾在三K党拥有“高尊独眼神(exalted cyclops)”的头衔。
Today, vice-presidents are commonplace, and alongside CEOs and CFOs we have chief security officers and chief privacy officers – although the title of chief apology officer for Southwest Airlines was bestowed by a journalist, not by the company itself.
如今，副总裁比比皆是，除了首席执行官与首席财务官外，我们还有首席安全官、首席隐私 官，美国西南航空公司(Southwest Airlines)甚至还有首席道歉官——尽管此头衔的授予者是一名记者，而不是西南航空公司本身。
I once worked for the chief economist of a very large organisation. As his only subordinate, I argued that I should be appointed deputy chief economist. My boss politely disagreed. As an economist, and a German, he was presumably opposed to inflation in every guise.
Pomposity in senior titles is paralleled by largely symbolic awards in the lower ranks. In a new working paper, the economists Michael Kosfeld and Susanne Neckermann describe the hallmarks of these awards: companies strive to make them highly visible; they create a competitive environment (not everyone can win) and “they are based on broad and vague criteria”.
与高级头衔泛滥并行的是，向中低层员工授予基本上是象征性的奖励。在一份新的研究报告 中，经济学家迈克尔•科斯菲尔德(Michael Kosfeld)和苏珊娜•内克尔曼(Susanne Neckermann)对这些奖励的特征进行了如下描述：企业力求让奖励变得人尽皆知；奖励会创造一个竞争环境（不是所有人都可获胜），而且企业会“根据 宽泛而模糊的标准”授予奖励。
Such awards involve little or no cash element, so an obvious question is, do they work? To find out, Kosfeld and Neckermann carried out a field experiment, in partnership with a large, non-governmental organisation that was fundraising by asking Swiss communities (each has a budget) for financial support. The recruits were to perform two hours of internet research, locating the names and addresses of relevant local officials to add to a database.
这类奖励几乎或完全不涉及金钱，所以一个显而易见的问题是，它们行得通吗？为了找到答 案，科斯菲尔德与内克尔曼开展了一项实地试验，合作方是一家大型非政府组织，该组织正在向瑞士社区（每个社区均有自己的预算）寻求资金支持，以便筹集资 金。招募来的人员需要进行两个小时的互联网研究工作——找到相关地方官员的名字与地址，然后将这些内容加到数据库中。
In the control group, students were briefed and told to get on with the job. In the treatment group, they were also told that the two best performers would receive a thank-you card and a handshake from the MD. There was no chance of additional work or promotion, and the researchers judged that even as CV glitz, an award for working hard for two hours was pretty desperate. In short, nothing was on offer but bragging rights.
在对照组，研究人员向学生简要介绍了一下情况，就让他们开始工作。而实验组学生还被告 知，表现最好的两个人会收到一张感谢卡并可与董事总经理握手。他们没有得到额外工作或晋升的机会，因此研究人员判断，即使简历很耀眼，但如此的奖励就想让 这些学生辛勤工作两小时，恐怕没什么希望。简言之，除了炫耀的权利，研究人员什么也没有向这些学生提供。
Despite this, the celebratory award worked well, with recruits in the treatment group doing about 10 per cent more work, whether measured in crude quantitative terms or using a more sophisticated tally of the data entered. And it was the more capable students who increased their efforts most. While the least productive students were stuck at around one entry every 10 minutes, the most productive ones – with the highest hopes of victory – managed to increase their work rate to an entry every 90 seconds or so. Daft awards work, at least in this context.
尽管如此，庆祝性奖励还是发挥了良好的作用——无论是以粗糙的数量标准衡量，还是以更 为精细的录入数据记录衡量，实验组学生均多完成了大约10%的工作。能力更强的学生效率提高得最多。最低产的学生大约每10分钟完成一次录入，而最高产的 学生——最有希望获胜——成功地将工作效率提高到了大约每90秒完成一次录入。至少在这种背景下，愚蠢的奖励发挥了作用。
Perhaps the students didn’t have time to think about what a flimsy piece of recognition they were being offered, or perhaps they felt a trivial award was appropriate for a two-hour job. But perhaps companies use symbolic awards because employees crave them.
And there is one significant difference between symbolic awards and symbolic job titles. Anyone can be a vice-president for customer sales support, but by design there is only one employee of the month. To a competitive character, that must mean something.