Ever been curious about the salaries of your colleagues? How about your CEO--ever wonder how much he or she makes? Let's be honest...who doesn't?

Salary and pay have been taboo subjects for decades--the stuff that makes for juicy gossip in the corner of the break room. But according to a new study, salary and pay is now
more openly discussed among coworkers, with nearly half of U.S. workers admitting they know how much their colleagues make (45 percent) and they've shared or discussed their salary with colleagues (46 percent). 

The study was conducted by beqom -- a leading cloud-based compensation software provider--and published in their 2018 Compensation and Culture Report.

First, the bad news

beqom ​found that nearly one in three (31 percent) U.S. workers do not believe employees at their company are fairly compensated regardless of their age or race. Additionally, almost half (48 percent) of U.S. workers believe men are paid more than women at their company, despite equal skill set, performance and experience. The industries where U.S. workers believe men are paid more than women include:

  • Technology (34 percent)
  • Banking and finance (23 percent)
  • Healthcare and medical (13 percent)
  • Education and higher education (5 percent)

To add insult to injury, the basis for the pay disparity is founded on feelings, not facts. The report states that "more than one-third (34 percent) believe managers and supervisors set pay based on their feelings about the employee rather than an employee's performance, experience or skill set."

Other compelling insights about how the U.S. workforce perceives pay include:

  • Employees are reticent when it comes to talking pay with managers. Despite wanting more transparency around pay, American employees are more likely to get a new job within the next year because they're unhappy with their salary (29 percent), than discuss their salary with a manager (19 percent).
  • Race and age prohibit fair pay. Nearly one in three (31 percent) U.S. workers do not believe employees at their company are fairly compensated regardless of their age or race.
  • CEO pay gap is a concern. More than three in four (78 percent) of U.S. workers believe that most CEOs and top executives of companies today make too much money compared to their employees

The solution.

Can anything good come out of this data? Well, yes. For starters, let's take the point about CEOs making too much money compared to their employees.

It was found that over half (60 percent) of U.S. workers want to know their CEOs salary. What gives? Have we reached an age of ultra self-entitled whiners who can't mind their own business?

Well, I'll leave the judging to someone else. The reality here is that trust and transparency are the new emotional currencies in the social economy. And U.S. workers in the Glassdoor era seek employers and bosses with the courage and capacity to share information that demonstrates honesty, fairness, and inclusion for all valued employees.

This is the simple reason why salaries should be shared and it actually makes business sense. U.S. workers listed several reasons for wanting to know what their CEO made, including:

  • Promotes a positive culture: Employees believe that pay transparency creates a better company culture.
  • Boosts employee motivation: They believe it would motivate them to work harder and earn more money.

And, as you would expect, younger generations are the ones ready to bust taboos. Case in point, when it comes to discussing salary with coworkers, the report states that "Gen Z (61 percent) is the most likely to share salary information with colleagues compared to Millennials (55 percent) and Baby Boomers (27 percent)."

I'll end with beqom CEO Fabio Ronga weighing in with an adrenalin shot of truth for all of us to consider: "We found that U.S. workers don't believe all employees are paid equally, regardless of age, race and gender, and today's workforce demands pay transparency because they believe it will motivate employees to work harder, create a better company and ultimately solve pay gap disparities among age, gender and race. We must do better to ensure that we're creating and sustaining a vibrant, motivated and diverse workforce."

To learn more and view additional findings, download the full report.

Published on: Oct 11, 2018
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