Starting this year publicly traded companies must disclose the median compensation for their employees and how it compares to the CEO's compensation.

The mind wanders to big tech firms like Google, Facebook, and Amazon, especially since big tech founders/CEO's make up six of the 10 richest people in the world. So you can't help but wonder just how much does the average big tech employee make and how much of a gap is it versus the top bananas?

What follows is data from five such companies and their public filings, as disclosed by CNN Tech.

Facebook

Median compensation: $240,430

CEO Mark Zuckerberg's pay: $8,852,366

The Zuck has a base salary of $1 but received almost $9 million "compensation" for what he spends on private planes and security. And the eye-popping $240,000 reflects what it costs to attract and retain tech talent in a place with an other-worldly cost of living.

Google (Alphabet)

Median employee compensation: $197,274

CEO Larry Page's pay: $1

How can the Google employee get by on a lousy $200,000 compared to what Facebook employees make? Do I smell revolt? By the way, don't cry for Larry. He's worth over $50 billion dollars.

Salesforce

Median compensation: $155,284

CEO Marc Benioff's pay: $4,653,362

Turns out enhancing relationships with customers pays dividends for all involved.

Tesla

Median employee compensation: $54,816

CEO Elon Musk's pay: $49,920

Before you take up picket signs on behalf of Tesla employees, remember that Tesla has a wide range of jobs including those on the lower end of the pay scale (service technicians, etc.)

And as with Google's Page, don't fret for Musk. He's worth over $20 billion when you consider his Tesla and Space X stock. The real world Tony Stark won't have to sell any Iron Man suits for scrap to make ends meet any time soon.

Amazon

Median compensation: $28,446

CEO Jeff Bezos's pay: $1,681,840

Relatively lower paying jobs (like warehouse jobs) weigh down the Amazon number. And if you were wondering about the salary for Bezos, the richest man in the world, it probably just about covers his bellman tips.

Wasn't all that comparing fun?

Odds are you couldn't help but compare what you make to the average employees above, even if on a subconscious, involuntary level. Odds are you weren't motivated by any of it, even comparing to Tesla and Amazon (because you know it's likely an apples to oranges comparison given the nature of some of those jobs). But odds also are that at least some of you were demotivated by it.

And therein lies the true nature of pay when it comes to motivating.

It has far more potential to demotivate than to motivate.

This is especially true when you feel that you're not getting paid fairly relative to your contributions or when you discover what someone else is making and your own (probably distorted) fairness alarm goes off. 

The truth is, despite what many managers believe, pay is a terrible sustaining motivator.

If pay was a motivating force than Dan Price, CEO of Gravity Payment systems wouldn't have done what he did very publicly in 2015. 

Price decided to reduce his CEO salary from $1.1 million per year down to $70,000 per year and then (using some of the difference) established a new minimum wage of $70,000 in his company. He came across a Princeton study that showed money ceases to be a good motivator at the $75,000 mark--where it then quickly reaches a point of diminishing returns. 

So Price figured, why not glean the most you can get from money as a motivator, cut right to the chase by starting everyone at $70,000, and then move on to more productive pursuits.  

Money simply does not sustain motivation over the long haul. 

Now granted, it's very motivating to see increased pay in terms of women closing the gender pay gap. This just happened in astonishing fashion when it was announced that Claire Foy, who plays the role of Queen Elizabeth II in the hit show The Crownis getting $275,000 in back pay to close the gap on what she was making relative to male co-star (and mere husband to the queen) Matt Smith.

But again, data does not support money as a long-term motivator.

So where can leaders turn for generating sustaining motivation then?

Meaning.

Crafting work that matters. Imbuing work with a sense of purpose. Holding sacred the opportunities for employees to learn and grow. Intentionally building their sense of self-esteem and competence. Granting autonomy. Building a caring, authentic, teamwork-based environment.

Money can't buy motivation, but all of this can.

So, for certain, neutralize money as a de-motivator as much as possible.

But for sustaining motivation, place your bet on meaning. Unlike with this article, there's no comparison.

Published on: May 3, 2018
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