Do You Know What Your Co-Worker Makes?

Gabrielle Karol

80607554In an age where cubicles are getting taken down for open office layouts (like LearnVest’s!), it seems that the idea of “openness” is being taken to the next level: salary information. The Wall Street Journal reports that an increasing number of private-sector companies are choosing to reveal formerly secret numbers to employees.

Company financials, staff evaluations—even details about workers’ salary and bonuses—are put out into the open, in the spirit of freeing up anxieties about co-workers’ pay and creating a clearer sense of how each team member contributes to the company as a whole.

We’ve raised the question before of whether it can be beneficial to talk openly about your salary with friends or co-workers, or whether it just stirs up more problems.

And it seems that there’s no clear answer: Some of the employees interviewed by The Journal who work for more transparent companies call the access to information “empowering,” while some business owners who had attempted openness found that it wasted time and hurt the hiring process, as attractive applicants couldn’t be wooed with salary increases without causing angst among current staffers.

Additionally, Ed Lawler, the director of the Center for Effective Communications at the University of Southern California said that openness can be detrimentally time-consuming or expensive, as employees try to weigh in on decisions regarding the company’s direction—or salary discussions—where formerly they would have just concentrated on their own work.

What do you think? Would you want to know your co-workers’ salaries and your company’s in-depth financials—or do you prefer to be kept in the dark?

  • Andrea Barnes

    I think I would want to know. Gives me an idea of where I stand in the company and what I could be potentially making in the future

  • Tushar @ Everything FInance

    I do the timekeeping for my department, so I do know what my colleagues make. I don’t know why (I have less experience than them, have been with the organization for a shorter amount of time) but I make more than most of them. It might be because I have extra duties. 

    In any case, I think it’s a slippery slope to know. How much you make doesn’t necessarily dictate how much the organization values you – it’s reflective of your negotiation skills and ability to sell yourself.