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The Benefits of Salary Transparency

BY Julie Calli / September 12th, 2022 / 4 MIN READ

“Salary Transparency” or “Pay Transparency” refers to companies openly sharing the compensation for roles in the organization to current and potential employees. There is no federal law today that requires companies to disclose compensation, however there are varying state level laws and regulations that do require disclosing compensation in job postings and in some cases during certain stages of the interview process. 

Benefits of Salary Transparency

In the aftermath of the Great Resignation, organizations have seen an outcry from employees calling for higher pay, better benefits and an open work environment where everyone feels welcome. 

It’s only reasonable to expect that workers want to see salary transparency become the norm too. 

Here are five benefits of adopting a culture that supports salary transparency. 

Attract More Qualified Talent

More companies are using recruitment marketing to attract job applicants. Recruitment marketing uses social media and other multimedia outlets to show off the workplace’s culture and benefits. 

A company that supports salary transparency can use recruitment marketing to post typical salaries for each position, attracting individuals who are seeking to earn more and grow their skill sets in an organization that interests them.

Improve Workplace Happiness

Many people worry about how their pay compares with others in similar jobs at their organization. Being transparent improves trust within the organization and can inspire people to enhance their knowledge and skills to obtain higher-paying positions. 

People who believe that they are underpaid relative to others tend to be less motivated. They may feel that their manager or employer doesn’t value their skills, and their performance declines. However, if people know their pay is fair and at market rates, employees are more likely to be productive and less likely to seek opportunities elsewhere. 

Close Potential Pay Gaps

Some companies fail to realize that they have a pay gap between genders, ethnicities and employees based on tenure. Since employee turnover is ongoing and businesses scale at different rates, the salaries offered to incoming employees may vary significantly from year to year.

While some employers seek to minimize pay gaps through regular annual wage increases, frequently, it’s simply not enough to fill in the gaps. Offering pay transparency makes employees aware of any disparity and encourages them to negotiate when they see significant differences in their pay compared to others. 

Get Ahead of the Crowd and Control the Narrative

The information age is banging at the door of salary transparency and Salary Transparent Street might be just the beginning. 

As other workers grow tired of complying with unspoken organizational codes and Generation Z becomes a more instrumental part of the workforce, the cultural practice of refusing to discuss salaries appears to be more risky than actually being open about it.

Generation Z has grown up with social media and posting information about their lives is a normal part of their routine. It’s only reasonable to assume that as they begin to dominate the workforce, they’ll share their dissatisfaction with workplace activities with others — and it may be on public forums.

Companies who realize the impact that bad social media press can have, to both their employer and consumer brand, are wise to adopt salary transparency as a policy now before workers have a chance to expose pay inequity. Doing so will put them ahead of the curve and reduce the chances of potential fallout from their policies. 

They’ll also have the opportunity to paint their company as one that embraces change and encourages positive cultural values.

Better Workplace Diversity

On average, minorities and women earn less than their white male counterparts. While experience and expertise may play a small role in those salary differences, pay disparity may also be the result of hidden discrimination and uncousious bias in the workplace. 

Adopting a policy of salary transparency puts an end to any suspicions of unequal pay and encourages minorities and women to work for companies that embrace pay equity policies. 

Diverse workforces are known to have a more open culture, higher levels of worker satisfaction and enhanced productivity levels. 

In addition, a diverse workforce encourages creativity and innovation — two things that companies can’t live without. 

Adopting Pay Transparency: Industry Leaders

Even though people are beginning to embrace salary transparency and its benefits, few companies have enacted full salary transparency policies. Though, three well-known organizations have chosen to lead the way. 

Whole Foods Market

Whole Foods was the first company to implement salary transparency across all levels of its organization. Beginning in 1986, all salaries and wages for each role were made accessible to every employee in the business. 

Whole Foods enacted its policy with the hope that employees could see what others were making and that information could provide a source of inspiration to give individuals something to strive for in their career. 

Buffer

Buffer is a social media management tool that allows individuals and companies to plan their social media posts according to a predetermined schedule. 

Beginning in 2013, Buffer adopted a salary transparency policy to support its values of trust and unity. Anyone can access employee salary information at Buffer through the company’s open salaries spreadsheet tool. 

The company also provides a pay analysis that compares pay between genders.

SumAll

SumAll is a marketing analytics company based in New York. Customers of SumAll monitor their business and social media metrics using the company’s products and services. 

SumAll adopted a salary transparency policy to encourage performance improvement among all workers. SumAll bases its salaries on merit and every worker who feels they are underpaid can initiate a discussion with their manager about negotiating their salary.

The CEO of SumAll has found that the organization’s policy of salary transparency results in higher employee retention rates.

The Takeaway on Salary Transparency

The pandemic brought an increase in remote and flexible working environments putting more pressure on salary transparency. Similarly, organizations have embraced stronger workplace values of diversity and inclusion. Some state regulations are already starting to mandate disclosure of salary in job descriptions and that will require strategy and planning to remain compliant. Salary transparency is likely to be the next seismic shift in the workplace, and companies who choose to adopt it early are positioned to attract and retain top talent.

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