Employers that don't know should note that retaining employees is cheaper than hiring new ones. The training curve and search time ultimately mean hiring is generally more expensive. So whenever possible, it's always better to give your employees a raise than put them in a situation where leaving is a better option.
An employee writes:
This story came from five years ago when I worked for a small IT MSP company. We had four full-time techs, with the 'newest' tech having about five years of experience and me being the most seasoned tech with nearly fifteen years of experience. We managed about a thousand PCs and twenty servers spread out over thirty clients between the four of us.
None of us were assigned to a specific client; we would all take turns grabbing whatever tickets came in. All of our work was lump sum or contract work, so we never had to worry about how long a problem took to fix or how much it would cost the client. Our account manager handled all the billing and things with the clients. It was a dream job for a tech; we got to show up and do our jobs and not have to deal with sales or billing any other client drama.
Everyone, including the owner, referred to me as the 'Senior Tech,' even though that wasn't my title. I not only had the most experience but was also the most self-motivated. I would often come in early and get started on the tickets that came in after hours, and I would assist the other techs if they came across a complex problem.
After two years working there, I decided to talk to the owner about a raise. I brought all kinds of information to our meeting, showing that I closed the most tickets and received the most positive feedback from a survey we sent our clients. He agreed to give me a raise but said he wanted to think about how much to give me and that he would get back to me.
A few weeks later, he called a company meeting and announced that he had decided to change some things and would no longer give anyone raises. Instead, he would set up KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), and the entire tech team would receive weekly bonuses based on hitting those numbers. I didn't like this at all, as it meant my pay depended on the performance of everyone on the team, not just me. I found out later one of the other techs had also asked for a raise, so this was the owner's solution to pay us less.
The KPIs were simple enough. If a ticket came in, we had to acknowledge it within fifteen minutes to score 100. If we missed the fifteen-minute window, the score for that ticket was 0. We had to hit ten things, including how long the ticket was open, before we marked it as complete. If the total score for the week was above 90, we each received a $100 bonus.
I saw significant problems with this bonus system and shared my concerns with the owner. He annoyed me and said, 'just hit the KPIs!' Cue the Malicious Compliance.
We all figured out pretty quickly how to game the KPI system. We could acknowledge a ticket in the system, but it didn't check if we had called the client. We would email and mark the ticket as 'reached out to the client.' A big issue is that sometimes a client would put in a low-priority ticket and ask that we schedule it for some time the following week, making us miss our KPI.
So we would start hounding the client to schedule it sooner, and if they were not available, we would close the ticket. We quickly learned to hit our KPIs and started getting a bonus every week. However, it caused our customer service to drop, precisely what I had warned the owner of. During the previous two years, we had never had a complaint about our service, but now there were multiple complaints every week.
This whole process added a ton of stress to us, as we all started to fight when someone missed a KPI, and we all started to work late on Fridays to try and get in those last few numbers.
After two months, the owner finally realized he had made a mistake. He removed the bonus system (without giving us a raise) and asked us to go back to how things were. At this point, I was so stressed I had already started looking for another job, and we had lost two clients.
I was the first to put in my two weeks' notice, but before I left, the other three techs had also put in notice. The last I heard, the company had lost over half its clients, and the owner had to bring in several new techs, paying them over 20% more than I had asked for my raise.
The internet is not a fan of horrible bosses (the actual thing, not the movie).
If only more bosses would take a hot minute to check how much it would cost them to hire a new employee of equivalent experience before denying the requested raise. They'd probably realize that the raise is MUCH cheaper nine times out of ten.
It's just astounding that people just don't understand that paying people is how work gets done.
He succeeded in creating a single KPI: 'Get our bonus no matter what.'
OP, your old boss is lucky that they still have a business and a job.