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Rynes Comments on Worker Pay Study

Just how important is pay to workers in the overall scheme of things? According to a recent study of 959 managers by the University of Iowa, "surveys that directly ask employees how important pay is to them are likely to overestimate pay's true importance." Results of the study, which were published in the Academy of Management Executive, show that 56 percent of the managers agree that questions about salary have to be worded very carefully -- especially because there is a "tendency to answer surveys in socially desirable ways." The supposition is that it's more acceptable to say money doesn't matter. The Iowa researchers also cited a study in which job applicants were asked to rank 10 important job characteristics. Pay ranked fifth for men and seventh for women. But when job seekers were asked to rate the importance of these same characteristics to "someone just like yourself" (same age, gender, education), the importance of pay jumped to first among women and men. "In other words, people seem to believe that pay is the most important motivator for everyone--except themselves," said SARA RYNES, chairwoman of the University of Iowa's department of management and organizations and lead researcher of the study.

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