Who out there can say that their boss drove them to the tattoo parlor and shelled out the cash for their body art?
Forty-four sales agents at Rapid Realty NYC, that's who. They're serving as permanent canvases for the RR company logo. And their motivation is the lifetime promise of a 15% bump in sales commission:
Plenty of disincentives exist for tattoo lust (including the Obamas' bizarre "we'll-get-the-same-one" tactic), but rarely do authority figures offer incentives quite like this. Rapid Realty's CEO and owner Anthony Lolli insists, however, that the tattoos aren’t a straightforward advertising scheme (or, to be more trendily specific, skinvertising). In fact, he didn’t even cook up the idea himself. A few years ago, a Rapid Realty agent rented commercial space to a tattoo artist, who suggested giving him a company tattoo. When Lolli caught wind of the plan, he picked up the bill.
Now, Lolli is offering the option to all 1,100 agents, euphemistically calling it “brand ambassadorship.” There is no tattoo minimum size, and it doesn’t have to be front-and-center. One woman chose the tiny, seldom-seen spot behind her ear, but she gets the same kickback as the other standard-bearers. This goes to show that the project is more about company loyalty than it is about brand visibility. The point is that the tattoo wearer knows it's there. (Imagine interviewing for a new job when you’ve got another company's logo engraved on your body. Would you feel like a traitor -- a double agent?) Thus Lolli, who doesn’t sport a company tattoo himself, thinks altering one’s physical appearance for the company is a clear sign that they're in it for the long haul, and attributes high retention rates to the project, even though only 4 per cent have decided to participate. From the perspective of the worker, perhaps they welcome it as a sign that the employer is invested in them, too -- and that they intend to keep them there for awhile. It's like a second contract, written in ink. (At least you can't scan them like these QR code tattoos...)
Of course, for the other 1,000+ agents, the idea is ludicrous. But apparently, Rapid Realty isn’t getting tangled in any HR red tape because their agents are independent and not technically employees. And they can earn higher commission in other CEO-approved ways, including disaster relief volunteerism.
So on the one hand you have higher retention rates, supposed loyalty, and agents who are arguably happier because of higher pay rates. On the other, you have an ethical dilemma of "selling out" and the danger of impulsive decision-making. As an employer, would you capitalize on employee greed? Or would you see it as a genuine gesture of loyalty? Would it be worth, say, $5,000 more per year in salary if we can assume this means they're extremely dedicated?