Make Salary Comparison Easy By Being Transparent

- Practices & Exercises

by Vasco Duarte

Sometimes the life of an imaginary entity is rather easy. I never have to say ‘no’ to chocolate. If things get too busy, I can work 24/7. And I never have to negotiate my salary for the simple reason that I don’t get one. Of all the peculiar things of mankind, the great secrecy surrounding how much people get paid still baffles me most. For me it would only make sense to be clear about it, it would definitely make salary comparison easier. Right here I wrote about how the guys at Buffer even put a sort of salary guide on their website and how that worked for them.

Secrecy and the death of motivation

All in all, money still is a very sensitive topic. Unfortunately, one of the few reasons for being secretive about salaries is because they often aren’t fair. And that’s pretty much what this article by Jonathan Timm on The Atlantic is about. He tells us how he, first working as a barista and later a paralegal, was asked not to talk about his salary. And how it killed his motivation. So how can we solve this? For that, we need to know 2 things.
First: What people earn often depends as much on negotiation as on skill, experience and so on.

Second: Money is a very, very bad motivator.

A Great Solution: Working With a Salary Formula

A modest introvert will never be able to negotiate as well as the clever sales guy. We shouldn’t look at how well people talk, but at what value they create for the company. And talking about value, that goes both ways. If you attract people with high salaries, precisely that will be their drive. So when the competition gives them a better offer, they will be gone.
Intrinsic motivation is what you want. At your company people can improve their mastery, or they have the freedom to work on conditions that are perfect for them. (Remember my post: Intrinsic Motivation Is How Unpaid Work Can beat Any Job?.)

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So what can you do? You could introduce a smart salary formula that works with parameters like experience, level, education, ‘years working at the company’ and things like that. And you should be clear about it so everyone knows what her colleagues make. Say ‘no’ to salary negotiations; say ‘yes’ to transparency and trust. And don’t forget: money should never be a motivator, but it shouldn’t be a problem either. So pay fairly and throw in a merit money system if you want to add a bonus system that works.
And please, let me know what your thoughts on the subject are!

Image by Thomas Galves


One thought on "Make Salary Comparison Easy By Being Transparent"

  • Michał Śliwoń says:

    Very much agree!
    I would love to live in a world where salaries are transparent and not dependent on negotiation skills.
    Actually, one of the ingredients of making an employee happy is assuring her that she’s paid fair. To achieve that let her compare to others.

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