Are employees getting short-changed during salary negotiations?

Job applicants are afraid to ask for higher salaries in jobs that push for altruism and charity, resulting in them losing out on more pay.
By: | May 9, 2023

Job candidates who might be attracted to companies that aspire to do good might feel pressure to not negotiate for a higher salary. 

This can stem from a broader social phenomenon about how we view money when it comes to doing good, as explained by Assistant Professor of Management Insiya Hussain of Texas McCombs School of Business, who conducted a recent study that discusses how job candidates exposed to such messaging feel it would be against company norms to ask for higher pay, resulting in them losing out on higher pay that could be up to hundreds of thousands. “There’s an implicit assumption that money and altruism don’t mix,” said Assistant Professor Hussain.

Hussain, along with co-authors Marko Pitesa and Michael Schaerer of Singapore Management University and Stefan Thau of INSEA,  found that prospective candidates exposed to the social impact framing that these job positions have stopped themselves from asking for higher salaries due to discomfort they felt when contrasted with the organisation’s more altruistic goals and objectives.

This is, of course, a two way street: Pitesa’s previous research has described a “motivation purity bias,” the phenomenon where  managers assume that employees who seem more interested in the material or monetary rewards than the intangible ones are less ideal candidates. 

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The research team suggested that managers should be aware and be educated on their motivation purity bias and better temper their approach to prospective employees who ask about material rewards. They also advised that job seekers have to consider if companies with social impact objectives would be able to take care of their own employees in all aspects.