It is fair to say that, with a few exceptions, people in Britain are fairly reserved. We don’t tend to like telling everyone our business, especially when it comes to money. You probably wouldn’t be happy if someone was looking over your shoulder and checking your bank balance while you were at a cash-point, and you probably wouldn’t share how much you got paid with your work colleagues. Could you imagine if your pay-slip was available for everyone else to see, so they knew exactly how much money you were taking home each week or month? It may sound like a terrifying prospect, but perhaps we should rethink this particular secret and ask if it would be better if we all knew exactly how much we were all being paid in our jobs?
In fact, some companies and employers already offer hints by using pay-scales at work. These offer bands of pay with each band being a set amount, so you might for example know that an administrator at your work was being paid somewhere between £20,000 and £23,000 a year, while a manager’s pay band may be higher. While this gives an idea of how much people are earning it doesn’t offer an exact amount, however, many employers keep this information totally secret and employees aren’t generally inclined to tell everyone else how much they are earning. The problem is, without this information it is all-too-easy for things like discrimination to go unnoticed.
Perhaps an employer is paying women less than men for doing the same job, or maybe the person sat next to you is on a bigger wage than you are, despite working in the same department. Salary secrecy makes it easier for discrimination, such as the gender wage gap, to continue as well as making it easier for employers to ignore. Plus, unscrupulous employers could save money by underpaying staff.
Despite the uncomfortable nature of telling everyone how much you get paid, it seems like wage transparency is good for employees, but being more open about pay scales and salaries can be good for employers too!
A study found that two-thirds of employees feel that they are underpaid, even if they are not, which can lead to job dissatisfaction and skilled staff feeling they would be better off elsewhere. The mere thought that they are being underpaid means that some 60% of these people would consider quitting their job. Now, imagine if 60% of employees in a business decided to pack it in – this could easily cause market failure for the company – and all because of a belief that staff weren’t being paid at the market rate. Of course, if you were to find that you were being underpaid, you would be able to do something about it and change your career or job.
In fact, rather than just stopping dissatisfaction, greater wage transparency also improves the effectiveness of staff. Given a clear wage structure and a recognition that the pay scale is fair and even, employees are offered a greater incentive to work hard and improve themselves - which is obviously better for business too.
Knowing that you are being paid fairly for your work helps prevent people from feeling undervalued as well as cutting out the chance of wage discrimination in the workplace, and potentially increasing productivity and staff morale. If you land your dream job, it is nice to know that you are also being paid properly for your work.
Of course, it is bad news for unscrupulous employers who may wish to save some money by underpaying some of their staff, but even with this said, the idea of letting everyone know how much you are getting paid may still make you feel a bit uneasy. However, with your wages being an important part of choosing a career, wouldn’t it be nice to know you were being paid fairly?
What do you think? Would you be happy letting everyone know how much you were being paid, or do you still feel some things are best kept secret?