Talking about salaries is uncomfortable. Culturally, most conversations about money are considered off limits. But a growing number of companies large and small are bringing salary discussions in bounds. They're sharing employees (and owner) salaries and seeing dramatic improvements in morale and a sense of fairness.
I recently delivered a TEDx talk advocating that more companies should join their ranks. The research, and the examples of these companies, suggests that keeping salaries secret actually damages motivation and collaboration and makes for a better culture overall. Most of us fear making every employees paycheck public would create comparison and envy amongst peers, but in most companies that's going on already....but with faulty information.
In a study of over 70,000 employees, Payscale found that most people have no idea how their pay compares to their peers and so they assume that they're underpaid. Most employees who feel they're underpaid also say they intend to quit. But the study also found that honest conversations about why salaries are what they are reverses these intentions even when the employee was actually underpaid.
In addition, when comparing salaries to peers inside the company, pay transparency gives employees an accurate means of comparison and allows for them to confront situations where unfairness exists and gives them recourse for resolving it. The fears that employees will despise each other once they know pay never seem to materialize, but what does are honest conversations about how to improve the pay system. Perhaps that's why organizations with pay transparency seem reductions in the gender wage gap.
Transparency isn't one size fits all. Different organizations will find different levels of transparency work for them. But we can all take steps toward more openness...and perhaps it's time to start walking.