Recently, the Economist posted an intriguing survey question:
Should employers be forced to publish everyone’s pay? Siting a recent study by the Chartered Management Institute ( please note the study looked at rates in the UK), the Economist posited that very question:
“… although the pay of males and females in junior management roles is now equal (indeed, women typically get a couple of pounds a day more than their male equivalents), the gap at senior levels is still huge: at current rates of change, it would take almost a century to reach equality.
There may, therefore, be an argument for requiring them to publish a list of who is paid what, so that if anyone is being discriminated against for any reason—not just sexism but other generic reasons such as race or religion, or maybe because of some individual vendetta—he or she can seek redress, or at least demand proper explanations as to why others are receiving more. Imposing such a rule on workplaces where pay varies widely is bound to cause ructions. It might cause more trouble than it is worth. Or maybe those ructions are necessary, to force those employers to be more rational in how they reward effort and talent.”
The survey results (view-able when you submit your own opinion), have been hovering around 49% Yes to 51% No.
I voted No because I think this type of intervention in the workplace is not really necessary (that’s a topic for another post). Beyond the legal discussion though is the question of how prepared your organization is for this level of openness and accountability should an open salary structure be in place.
Most companies would likely say they pay for performance, but do employees understand what a top performer is?
Let’s talk about feedback:
- Is it given in a timely fashion (after the incident vs. six months later at their annual review)?
- Do employee’s know what is considered good work ? Do mangers set expectations, then manage to those expectations?
- Are your managers and HR team comfortable explaining the salary structure, providing feedback and tieing it all together?
If the answer to any of these is “No” I would say your organization isn’t ready any time soon to be posting individual salaries. Until your managers are ready to have some brutally honest conversations and your employee’s are ready to take some tough questions (think Tom Brady post playoff loss to the Jets), the idea of posting everyone’s salary is asking for an employee relations night mare.
Want an example of accountability? After your team has lost a game you were heavily favored to win, having to sit down in front of camera’s and the world and answer questions about the decisions you made. Check out this video of Tom Brady post playoff game loss to the Jets (for a recap of the game click here):
Tom Brady Post Game Press Conference 1/16/2011