How To Trick Others To Work More

When I was something like 10-15 years old I spent time picking strawberries. There was some strawberry fields that needed workers and I spent some (darn hard) time picking those berries in some summers. The owner of the fields was one sneaky guy. Here’s how he tricked us to work more (and resent him).

Guarantee huge salary + bonuses right in the beginning…
This guy was saying that we would get we would get X*1.5 bucks per kilogram (in the last summer we actually got only X bucks per kilo, so it sounded like a really good deal – we would get like 50% more than last year). He said that the market is good and encouraged us to work hard (for short time as you’ll see soon).

…and then say that something went wrong, and that bonuses won’t be there…
Few days later the guy came and said: “Please listen to… it looks like I remembered the sum wrong. The actual salary is X per kilo. Hopefully you can understand old man for messing up the figures”. After working hard for several days (getting to the field like 5:00 am) that wasn’t such a pleasant news for us – but what you gonna do. Everybody was grunting but accepted this. After all, it was just spoken words…

…repeat the same trick the next year…
I didn’t encounter this same, but one of the co-workers said that “Well, that wasn’t a surprise – I knew this. He did the same last year, so I’ve used to this. Still, I need the money so I’m here”. Can you believe this? The guy did the same thing the very next year (and I bet he has done it over and over).

…and you can bet your white socks that people will resent you, and somebody will probably sue you at some point
I’m not sure how well the strawberry field is doing today (or how much the workers really wanna be there) but something tells me that this wasn’t such a good long-term strategy (nor not much of a short-term either) to get motivated workers. And I guess it only works with kids who don’t understand to get the stuff written on paper…

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. For a new startup without any investors, we depend on profit sharing to even manage. Everyone on the project get an equal share of any profits down the line.

  2. Yeh, it’s a shame if so called ‘profit sharing’ is done like that, since if done correctly, bonuses (and ‘profit sharing’ as a bonus) can be motivating (if you actually get bonuses :)).

  3. Game Studios do this all the time… “Then, to make up for poor salaries with no benefits, we’ll have Profit Sharing”… regretfully, the people they promise that to are so far on the totem pole that, by the time everybody at the top gets their cut of the “Profits”… they’ll brush the short amount away into a fund for Hardware or Software upgrades… or new chairs.

    My best friend from High School has never once seen any money from profit sharing. And most people in the game industry who sign up with start ups will tell you to ask not to be in the group with “Profit Sharing”, but rather just have a larger, overall, salary.
    It’s a common trick… once you’ve fallen for it once or twice, you wise up.

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