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By Martha C. White
May 24, 2016

Sure, you’re familiar with the numbers on your own paycheck, but if that’s all you know, you might be getting shortchanged. Wouldn’t you like to know what your colleagues make, too? What about whether or not your earnings are fair and representative of what someone with your skills, in your city, should make?

According to Glassdoor’s latest survey on salary transparency, 70% of employees think transparency around pay improves worker satisfaction, and 62% say they would be willing to share information about their own salary if they could do so anonymously.

But in spite of these statistics, Glassdoor’s survey found that transparency around pay is the exception rather than the rule. What’s more, the lack of salary information has the potential to prompt job-hopping that ultimately hurts workers and companies.

Nearly 70% of American workers agreed with the statement, “I wish I had a better understanding of what fair market compensation for my position and skill set is at my company and in my local job market.”

With so few employees confident they’re being compensated fairly, the result is a troubling knowledge gap around pay transparency. In a world where all kinds of questions can be answered with just a tap on a touchscreen, this information vacuum is a frustrating throwback to an earlier era, when workers accepted top-down management as the norm and never questioned a leader’s authority.

In the United States, Glassdoor found that salary opacity affects women to a greater degree than men. While 65% of male respondents in the U.S. said they have a good sense of how employees at their company are compensated, only 53% of women said the same.

Only 31% of respondents in the U.S. said their company provides salary information internally, the third lowest percentage of the seven countries surveyed. (Only Switzerland and Germany had lower rates of pay disclosure.)

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There are two ways this lack of awareness can hurt workers: One possibility is that their colleagues are already earning more than they are, and they just don’t know they’re getting the short end of the stick. The other is that the drive for a bigger paycheck could lead to job-hopping with a frequency that leaves a poor impression with future would-be employers. Either can be detrimental to long-term career advancement.

Glassdoor points out that the dynamic isn’t great for companies either. Good workers might get fed up and leave if they have a sense their job should be paying them more but don’t have any numbers that would corroborate or dispel their hunches. “Employers may want to consider the risk of losing talent when there is less transparency,” the survey concluded.

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