Why Encouraging Employees to Pull Stunts for Raises Will Backfire


Did you hear about the Brooklyn company, Rapid Realty, that offered its employees a 15 percent raise if they got a tattoo of the company logo somewhere on their bodies. Forty of the company’s 800 workers went for it, and, welp, the blogosphere’s eating it up and discussing it, but I haven’t really seen too much discussion of whether it’s actually a good idea to do as a company. As in: Is this truly good for morale? Is it good for a company’s image?

I’m gonna plant a flag here and say, um, no, it isn’t.

I couldn’t find much as far as whether these grabs for publicity have translated into conversions, but I can say it makes you come across as being amateurish and desperate for attention. It makes your employees seem greedy, not especially loyal, and, to shine back on the management encouraging these stunts, kinda lazy.

To be fair, according to Rapid Realty’s Owner Anthony Lolli, one of his employees was going to get a tattoo on his own, and he offered to repay him with a raise and then extended the offer to all his employees. That’s actually kinda nice, but that isn’t the norm for these kinda things, like when Indiana resident Eric Hartsburg put his forehead up on eBay and got paid $5,000 to get a Mitt Romney tattoo, or when entrepreneur Andrew Fischer tried to launch a cottage industry of these stunts by declaring himself the “Human AdSpace.”

True, those are individuals acting on their own, and you probably think they’re slightly crazy, right? It seems much weirder when a company is encouraging people to embark on this kind of behavior because it’s an officially sanctioned act that’s being rewarded financially. And, guess what: At some point, somebody with a tattoo will either quit your company or be fired, and how will their “loyalty” be rewarded then?

It’s possible they may seek legal action and find a lawyer happy enough to try to set a precedent to seek damages and have you pay to remove the tattoo you thought would be so hilarious for them to have in the first place.

Or, in the eternal words of John Stossel: Give me a break.

David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as an interviewer-writer for Adult Swim, he's also a comedy-writing instructor for Second City and an adjunct professor in DePaul’s College of Computing and Digital Media. (He also co-runs a blog behind the DePaul class, DIY Game Dev.) He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.

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