Pattie Lovett-Reid: The problem with knowing your co-workers’ salaries
If you are honest, you have wondered what your co-workers make. Having said that, the truth could do more harm than good, new research from The Creative Group suggests.
Deborah Bottineau, senior regional manager Robert Half Technology and The Creative Group, argues there are potential benefits to an open salary policy workplace, such as using salary as a means of establishing an open conversation around both compensation and performance. It might even help support increased productivity, boost recruitment and retention efforts. Full disclosure can help with pay equity and build trust among employees. Companies may find it helps employees understand the specific performance levels and achievements that lead to higher salaries that could prove to be motivating.
But before you decide the benefits of an open salary policy workplace are compelling, there are potential drawbacks. The majority of companies surveyed suggest that too much data can have a negative impact on moral. Publicizing salaries can bring inequities out in the open which can lead to difficult and even awkward conversations not to mention how upset some will be to find out their colleague really does make more than them.
Sharing too much information publicly could encourage the competition, who is always looking to poach top talent. Plus, the employee often doesn’t want that information disclosed. Some things are still considered taboo and talking about how much you make is considered one of them by many.
Pay inequities in the workplace can be damaging and very public. It clearly doesn’t matter how much you make, the frustration and anger is often value-driven: Robin Wright never meant to become the face of gender pay disparity. The House of Cards star, at one point in the series saw her character Clarie Underwood was more popular than Frank Underwood's or Kevin Spacey. She felt it is a good time to capitalize on it and ask for a raise to be paid the equivalent of Spacey. It is reported Spacey was making $500,000 an episode in 2014, while Wright was making $420,000. There is clearly a lot more to this story but it illustrates the point and the moral of the story – understand the compensation structure and know your market value.