All Americans know that there are three topics that should stay off-limits during normal conversation: religion, politics, and money.
However, in terms of our salaries and money at work, are we really doing ourselves any favors by keeping our wages a secret? Progressive companies are imagining a new way to do business: a work setting with no hidden financial information- with every employee knowing each other’s salaries.
You might ask, "What do companies and employees alike have to gain by payment transparency?" and "What are the disadvantages of our current state of 'money secrecy'?"
First and foremost, pay transparency is just fair.
Merit-based compensation reflects an open, fair workplace. Two employees that do the same work and have been at a company for the same amount of time should be paid the same amount of money. Treating employees ethically makes a company attractive, even if they are not paying as much as competing positions.
Pay discrepancy should not be based on an employee’s likability, but rather on their skills, position, and perhaps their seniority. Having a transparent pay scale also makes expectations much clearer on how employees need to perform in order to receive a raise.
Employers that have implemented more conversation and transparency in regards to pay have already seen some interesting results. Namasté Solar’s Blake Jones explains the effects of pay transparency have seen, “big jumps in worker productivity-- on the order of 5, 6, 7 percent. And it seems to be long-lasting."
Transparency can also help fight the gender wage gap.
Sites like Glassdoor and Payscale give job seekers more information about the financial information within companies, such as the median salaries of employees, pay by experience level, among other statistics. While it is a useful tool for any job seeker, women especially can use the information to their advantage to demand pay that is ethical for everyone.
In 2017, women are on average are paid 80 cents to a man's dollar. We need absolute wage transparency if the unequal pay of men and women is to ever change. Armed with numbers from their company's open financial information, or from online resources, women can be empowered to negotiate salaries equal to their male counterparts.
As another benefit for employers, wage transparency can lead to employee retention.
In the realm of part-time work, seasonal jobs, and traditionally low-paying or transient jobs like coffee shops, retail, and restaurants, pay transparency is also crucial to thriving employees and having low turn-over rate.
Clear expectations for associates make more competitive and more goal-oriented employees. When the objectives for workers are clear, associates can work towards the company's goals and consequently be rewarded as expected. In the current employee climate, either raises are largely not given unless requested or employers have the power to pay two employees of the same position vastly different hourly rates.
Companies owe it to their employees to be more open with pay practices.
In this era of sheer excess of information, we as employees have the power to research everything- the lowest price on an item while online shopping, the highest-rated restaurants, and now, the highest-paying or happiest companies in each field. Now more than ever, it is the worker's market. For corporations to compete, they need to have an edge. Whether that be in competitive benefits, ethical company culture, or open and fair salary information, the companies of the future will need to make big changes to attract employees.
Let’s still agree to leave politics and religion out of the workplace, though.