Workplace: Sharing salary information
“How much do you make?” asked Kathryn Vasel in CNN.com. For decades, such a question has been “considered taboo” around the office—a tad risky and occasionally rude. But Millen nial workers, accustomed to sharing so much about their lives online, apparently don’t feel that way. More than 30 per cent of workers ages 18 to 36 have shared their salary with a colleague, according to a new survey. Older workers, by comparison, continue to be “much more tight-lipped”: Just 8 percent of workers ages 53 to 71 have told a colleague what they make. Younger workers are even more comfortable sharing salary information with those close to them. More than 60 per cent of Mil len nials say they’ve told a family member what they earn, while 48 per cent have revealed their income to a friend. It’s no surprise that “the pressure for secrecy is falling away” among younger workers, said Gina Ragusa in Mic.com. Mil len nials have come of age sharing everything—from their relationship status to what they ate for breakfast—on social media, so “the culture of transparency feels natural” to them.
“Who isn’t curious about how much their co-workers make? I know I am,” said Vernon Gunnarson in TheMuse.com. One of the reasons people have been reluctant to share their salary data is that some companies actively discourage their employees from discussing it, “despite this practice being illegal.” Encouraging silence “arguably prevents some possible workplace tension,” but it can also help hide pay discrimination. Employers might prefer that salary data stay in the dark, said Kelsey Gee in The Wall Street Journal. But if they want to tap into the Millennial talent pool, they will have to adjust their approach. Young workers simply expect more transparency than their parents did, and that mean s bosses will have to get used to “explaining why some workers are paid more than others, and to formalize compensation and promotion practices.”
If you do bring up pay with your colleagues, it’s still wise to tread carefully, said Nicole Audrey in NBCNews.com. To ease into the conversation, try citing percentages, not numbers—such as ‘I got a 4 percent raise this year.’ If you start to feel it’s a discussion your co-worker doesn’t want to have, “respect those boundaries.” But if it progresses more positively, you might be able to discuss specific figures. If you do find out someone is making more than you are, “you should never use it as a weapon” in your annual review or in negotiations with your boss. Focus on tracking your own success and improvement to prove that you deserve that pay bump. ■