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Monday, June 20, 2011

What If You Knew Everyone's Salary?

In our culture, it's not polite to discuss salaries. But what would happen if salary information was publicly available?

What If You Knew Everyone's Salary?

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

I ran across this problem while working for a newspaper. Discussion of union and non-union public officials' salaries was always up for debate at the meetings I covered.

I tried not to write about it, as I felt, as you correctly stated, it is impolite to discuss them. I certainly wouldn't have wanted somebody to publish my pitiful salary for everyone to see. But if it's newsworthy (ie, there's a big controversy over wages), that's a different story.
I think it's OK to know if someone doing the same job as you, or a lower position, is making more.
http://www.staffingtalk.com

Anonymous said...

I'd work for a company with open salaries - I'm in exactly the situation you described where I make WAY less than others in my role because of strict HR rules and having started with this company as an 'intern' making XX. I really like it here most of the time and I don't want to leave but I'm starting to feel like I have to.

On the OTHER hand we have a weird situation here where we assigned a guy to work on an HR system which resulted in him having a lot of visibility to HR data (because some idiot handed it to him raw instead of cleansed) and he has literally spent the last year bitter and angry about how much money people make/made compared to him.

The problem is that he's probably getting paid what he deserves - but our manager doesn't know how to argue with him on it and its made him VERY confident and persistent.

Mike C. said...

I'm all for the open salaries. It's about time that companies were more transparent. And please, publish mine right along with the rest.

I'm more than happy to let that information go if it means my boss can't unfairly pay my coworkers. I'm sad that more don't feel the same way.

FrauTech said...

In my personal experience ignorance is bliss. Because salaries aren't open most people didn't know (sometimes even my bosses were vague on how much I made). I've suffered under problems like the second anonymous where actually more senior employees (even those who train themselves and gain new skills) can end up making way less because rules on max percentage increase. And yet low performers get a "minimum" increase as well. So it really discourages performance for pay.

Not sure what opening it all up would do. HR would have to do a lot of work to justify pay and have job titles that make sense. But I'm sure they'd still find a way around it. When I pointed out how low my pay and title was in the past compared to my qualificatiosn, education AND performance ratings HR suggested that I "take on higher responsibilities" to move up (what did they think I had been doing?). As in you don't get credit for performance until you're actually titled for that, which is completely up to your boss.

Also pay disparity in my field is equally Google-able. Just google "engineering pay gap" and you'll see glass door's salary survey on men and women in engineering. They're tracking total years of experience, so any time women might take off for babies isn't adding to the gap. The scary thing is how quickly the gap appears and how it widens, even in a supposedly male dominated high paying industry. Women's "choices" can only account for so much, maybe we need to realize it's not always blame the women for pay gap.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I work for a company where everyone is paid based solely on their length of service. There are different pay scales for part- and full-time and differentials for certain things, but the majority of difference for pay comes from length of service. It's a fascinating system. I rarely hear complaints about differences in pay and everyone has a pretty good idea what everyone else makes...I think it works rather well.

Class factotum said...

everyone is paid based solely on their length of service

So even if you are more productive, have more responsibility and are better than someone who has been there twice as long as you, she gets paid more?

Anonymous said...

Exactly. And I rarely hear complaints about it.

Anonymous said...

I work in an environment where everyone knows what everyone else makes - or at least has the ability to know. It's a state job at a university and we have a 'salary book' that is on file in a library as well as having online access to it.

What hurts is that most of the time, folks who have worked here for years and have received the basic raise each year kind of lose out. This is because the university keeps raising the minimum for each payband pretty much every year. It keeps an employee at or near the bottom forever. The result is that someone who is hired today makes about the same as someone who has been employed for years. I had a friend once who asked how he was ever supposed to reach the middle or high end of his payband if they kept raising it as much as his raise was each year.

Joe Fox said...

Exactly. And I rarely hear complaints about it.

That's unfortunate. Length of service is a lousy indicator of how valuable a person is. A person'a ability to take up the space for a long period of time doesn't indicate that they are any good. All it does is motivate people to punch the clock. It's not "loyalty" if no one else would have you.

Rory said...

I'm against this.
Everything changes when you find out your co workers salaries. You begin to judge them more, try to determine they are being paid so much more or less than you.

I don't see, how this can be productive in the workplace.