Discussing Salaries with Co-Workers: A Good Idea?

By Career Savvy

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New research conducted by totaljobs.com has revealed that 78% of British workers keep the details of their salary a secret from work colleagues, with just 20% prepared to openly discuss the matter with anybody.

This contrasts with results from workers in other European countries, where 28% of French people would openly discuss the matter with anybody and 18% of Swiss workers preferring not to disclose their salary details to anybody- the figure for Brits stands at 30%.

Should companies be more open about salaries?

John Salt, director of TotalJobs, commented that: “Salary is an emotive and controversial topic in the workplace and, therefore, is something most people would rather avoid discussing. Pay structures and bonuses are often shrouded in mystery which can cause resentment among colleagues. Companies should be more open about pay and benefits to remove this ambiguity and to motivate employees as they will know exactly what the rewards are for their hard work.”

However, it could be argued that discussions of salary amongst co-workers could cause unnecessary friction in the workplace, leading to a decrease in productivity. You may be unaware that a large percentage of contracts have clauses preventing discussion of pay between employees - presumably in order to prevent possible conflict.

A potential solution…

One possible compromise for an employer may be to clearly set out salary estimates for all areas of a business, so that workers know where they stand without being aware of the specific salary details of their colleagues. This should help to avoid resentment amongst workers due to lack of knowledge about pay structures - however, on the other hand, having knowledge of the salaries of other departments could also make workers feel undervalued and could lead to large demand for pay rises.

What about you?

Are you part of the majority that don’t discuss salary details with co-workers or are you happy to discuss the matter with anybody who’s interested? It’s certainly a touchy subject for many British workers and it’s interesting that the attitude appears to be slightly different in other European countries. Clearly there are differing viewpoints to the debate - whilst transparent salaries could make employees feel more valued, unfair salary structures could have the opposite effect and cause resentment in the workplace.


Image credit: compfight



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