"wageWith wages, things work like this: you perform a task, you do something which your employer deems necessary, and your employer pays you for that, usually after you've done whatever it is you had to do.
"plural noun: wages
"1. a fixed regular payment earned for work or services, typically paid on a daily or weekly basis.
"'we were struggling to get better wages'
"synonyms: pay, payment, remuneration, salary, emolument, stipend, fee, allowance, honorarium; More" (see here)
For example: you are the tea lady, you serve tea, coffee and cookies. You are the company's accountant, you keep the company's accounting books. You are the CEO, you run the firm. You do your job, you are paid; you don't do your job, you are not paid. Easy.
It's all about work.
"1. a financial gain, especially the difference between the amount earned and the amount spent in buying, operating, or producing something.
"'record pre-tax profits'
"synonyms: financial gain, gain, return(s), payback, dividend, interest, yield, surplus, excess; More" (see here)
With profits, things are this way: you own a business or a share of a business and you are paid for that, in proportion to your share. The same with losses. You don't own a business or part of a business, you don't get any profits (or suffer any losses). Period.
For instance, if you buy shares in the Stock Exchange, you don't need to know what the company listed as ABCXYZ does, or what that symbol means. You don't need to run the company, work there, or move a finger: you'll get dividends, for the amount the company decides, whenever it decides, in proportion to the stock you hold; and as a stockholder you have your say in that decision. Easy.
It's all about ownership.
What if Joe, who is the firm's CEO (or Maggie, the tea lady or Bob, the accountant, for that matter), also owns shares? He is the big boss and also a shareholder: he gets his salary for doing his job (as any other employee/worker) plus dividends (as any other shareholder). Two different roles, two different incomes.
Each and every single one of them knows that those two sources of income are different. If Joe quits his job but keeps his shares, he'll keep receiving dividends; if he sells his shares but keeps his job, that won't stop him from demanding his salary payments.
If Joe dies -- God forbid -- his estate will keep receiving dividends, potentially per saecula saeculorum (unless the shares are sold); but bye, bye to CEO compensation.
(19/08/2014): Does it mean that CEOs, like Joe, are in the exact same position as tea ladies, like Maggie, or accountants, like Bob?
Let the cartoon below (h/t David Ruccio) answer that question:
That's his job.