It’s not always about money – the service-purists

Service-purists come in two strands: those paid a pittance for their service and those that are paid nothing – we call them all ‘service-purists.’

Service-Purity a choice we make; look out for them - they are worth millions in value to companies

Service-Purity a values-choice we make; look out for them – they are worth millions in value to companies

How is it possible that one chooses a profession that is very low paying, and at times working pro-bono? Moreover, the so-called ‘service-purists’ may have had the option to choose and get better paying jobs.  Many do not have alternative income sources like family inheritance, stashed away cash savings. We have to assume that many purists will not even think of playing the lottery – that is gambling and selfish!

During one of our Internet escapades, we came across a fascinating question on QUORA, the question and answer site.  We were left wondering if service should always be about money.

How much do Flight Attendants make?

In the QUORA answers to the above question, we observed a common narrative. Apparently, Flight Attendants do the job out of passion and not for money. We suppose Flight Attendants share something in common with Monks, Catholic Priests, and Nuns that go into the service of their faith, not for the money but to do one thing – serve.

Well, read below about the trials and tribulations of Flight Attendants:

How much do flight attendants make?


‘’……Flight attendants are not highly paid.
They are the opposite of that.
I was paid less as a Flight Attendant then when I was working as a concession worker at a local amusement park when I was 15 years old.
I made around $9 an hour as a Flight Attendant.
That’s It.
Oh, sure, the “hourly rate” on my paycheck was listed as higher than that, but we only get paid for the time that the plane was away from the gate.
Things we didn’t get paid for:
1 Transit time to/from work
2 Filling out paperwork
3 Time on the ground for delays
4 Time on the ground between flights
5 Time on the ground when the plane is still attached to the jetway.
So, while all those passengers are boarding the plane and we were helping them with their luggage and getting the plane stocked and everything, we weren’t being paid for that. Nope, not at all.
Fun, right?
This is all based on a thing called “block time.” Theoretically, your rate of pay is supposed to be high enough to cover all those little things, but as any waiter who works on tips can tell you, it doesn’t really.
But you don’t become a Flight Attendant for the money. You become a Flight Attendant for the other benefits.’’

‘’Our basics are surprisingly low. If we’re not flying, then we’re not earning enough to pay for rent and everything else that’s why you’ll see some FAs goes all out in certain months to earn extra. Gone are the days where you could have to buy yourself expensive designer handbags with just one paycheck. Nowadays, we struggle as much as anyone who work other jobs. But again, you don’t become FAs for the money. You became one for the perks it gives you.’’

‘’I’m not a flight attendant… Yet! I have been to several interviews though and have done my fair bit of research. It is not a job you take for the money! It’s the chance to travel the world and interact with people from different cultures and helping them have a safe and enjoyable flight that is the attraction.
Basic salaries are extremely low. You can make it up with (depending on airline) the amount of long-haul flights you get or in-flight sales you make, and there are bonuses for good performance, but you can also eat into that easily if you are not careful with spending while away.’’

We have a confession to make. We need to conduct more research on the Flight Attendants working for East Africa Airlines; perhaps given the levels of poverty and minuscule national economies, many go into the service for money and the lack of other employment opportunities. Careful please – service purists are made to serve, aren’t they?

How can industry sectors pay low salaries, yet still attract the best of the best?

Yes, we have to ask the above question – how can employers identify that pedigree in people, that makes them work not for money but service to the others? And even more important, service to others without the hidden conditionalities like: the comfort (fall-back) of stashed away cash in bank accounts; ‘backdoor’ benefits from freebies like free travel and hotels for individual Flight Attendants. Those that join on the pretext of ’service to others’ but have an eye on other freebies may compromise the ‘service-purity’ ideology discussed in this blog

Tips for companies looking at changing their HR process to ensure they attract service-purists:

  1. Clearly, define the ‘behaviour-profile’ of the service purist you are looking for
  2. Throw out traditional HR recruitment and selection approaches
  3. Explore mechanisms to identify and confirm certain behaviour traits in individuals
  4. Offer two types of service contracts to employees – long-term for proven service-purists, and short-term/temporary for those whom the jury is still out on
  5. Learn from the modern church; appoint ‘pastors’ to look after flocks of service-purists or else, they may retard in faith – careful not to bring into companies Marxist or Kibbutz principles
  6. Requires robust performance management systems, different from the orthodox performance evaluation: real-time capture of customer-service experience [tap into the power of digital]

Characteristics of Service-Purists:

  1. Able to self-supervise
  2. Visible passion for the job [check out individual staff customer service ratings]
  3. Authenticity [behaviour – character – relationships etc]
  4. Superior problem-solving capacity [look out for evidence of finding solutions to every challenge that comes their away, even if they fail]
  5. Able to relate well with everyone + extremely patient [service purists don’t use power/authority to resolve problems but the power-of-relationships with others]

Intangibles that set quintessential leaders apart from the pack

Service-Purists are worth millions in value to companies – look out for them

Well, as you start your search for ‘service-purists’, it looks like the place to start is your Human Resources Management toolbox. Throw out of the tool-box, every recruitment and selection tool that is traditional!

Categories: People

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2 replies


  1. The triad that sustains classic organisations – Gabazira's blog
  2. Big thing in 2017: personal effectiveness & efficiency? – Gabazira's blog

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