Unlike the question of where babies come from, this question is appropriate in the workplace. And, it is important for employees to understand the answer to this question. Paychecks may be written under the name of their employer, but the employer is really not the source of the paycheck. As employers we are merely passing money through from our client to our employee. Without our clients, there would be no way to make payroll. For that matter, there would be no need to have a payroll. As the owners of the company, my partner and I are ecstatic when we get a new case, when the client goes for the best option we suggest, and when we are overloaded with work and have to work long days or even weekends. We know, as described slightly differently in another blog, that we have to feast when we can. Employees however, have not always understood this and have failed to understand that they have more bosses than just the 2 of us. Like the company owners/partners, the employees have many bosses to keep happy. And, while it is obvious to me who makes payroll possible, employees should never lose sight of the source of that paycheck. Whether your company sells products or services, it is the customers or clients who do so. In our service business world, it is sometimes even more complicated in that our attorney clients are often hired by corporations or insurance companies and the funds we get come through the attorney to us from these other entities. It seems complicated, but it as simple as following the money to know who you have to please. And, we like to please our clients with good service and solid results!
In the same way in which money does not grow on trees, paychecks do not get distributed to employees by some magical force. Instead, in a service based business such as mine, someone has worked very diligently to convince a client to retain the company for work that will result in all of the company’s employees being paid. In the small “mom and pop” company I co-own with my spouse, it is I who generates almost 100% of our company’s revenue. As a result, I never take for granted the paychecks my partner writes to our employees; the paychecks are made possible only because a client has trusted in my expertise enough to pay my company, allowing my partner (who handles all of the business related details) to pay everyone who works for us. When a client decides not to retain us; when a civil case settles or a criminal case is resolved prior to the completion of our work; when a client decides to scale back the magnitude of a research project; or when other factors outside our control yield less revenue than we expect, many of our employees have wrongly believed this is a good thing, in that they do not have to work as hard as everyone anticipated. Our employees’ lack of comprehension about the source of their paychecks is unfathomable to my partner and me. For us, it is blatantly obvious that, if we do not get paid for the work we do, we will be unable to pay the employees for the work they do. Other than the revenue we generate from working for our clients, there is no money for anyone or anything, to the point that we would, as a corporation, cease to exist if we did not eventually obtain payment for our services from someone. When someone is merely collecting a paycheck that is the same regardless of the effort he/she puts into the job, regardless of how much revenue the company is earning, etc., one’s paycheck can be taken for granted. But, when someone is the sole source of revenue for everyone else who works at the company, she/he will quickly learn to appreciate every dollar paid by every client. That’s why a copy of the first check we received, to retain us on case #00001, is framed and prominently displayed in our office as a constant reminder that our money is earned as a result of lots of hard work and perseverance.