How would your work life change if your co-workers knew your salary?

Photo credit: Melpomene, Shutterstock
Photo credit: Melpomene, Shutterstock

In an effort to be more collaborative, supportive, and transparent, organizations implement a variety of policies. Next Jump doesn’t fire people. charity:water offers unlimited vacation days. Today, we’re looking at Buffer, a social-media management company, where staff members know each other’s salaries.

In an interview with 99u, the co-founder of Buffer, Joel Gascoigne, notes that the company posts everyone’s salaries and the formula for determining these salaries in an internal wiki. The impact of this level of transparency has changed how employees think about work and their compensation, in a positive way:

On giving raises:

“We haven’t had anyone ask for a raise yet,” says Gascoigne, “But wehave introduced new levels and variables to the formula. As we grow we’ll need more team leads, for example.” If someone were to negotiate for a raise, they probably wouldn’t be a good fit, he says, arguing that paying above market rate as well as providing other perks should encourage people to stay for the long haul. If someone is simply chasing short-term benefits like money, there’s a culture mismatch.

Impact on culture:

When the company first enacted salary transparency in January 2013, they had to “normalize” each employee’s salary. In every case but one, this resulted in a raise. The only subjective variable, experience level, was determined after meeting with each employee. No current employee is at the “junior” or “master” ranks. Buffer makes its revenue and other financials transparent to employees and routinely experiments with culture, something Gascoigne believes made this “just another step” and not a sudden (and jarring) change of direction.

Read the rest of the conversation on 99u.

We often assume that knowing what our co-workers earn make us resentful. However by normalizing salaries and allowing staff members to see each other’s pay, perhaps Buffer was pushed to be fairer in compensation while actively fostering a safe and transparent company culture.

How do you think sharing salaries would affect your work place? Share your insights below.

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Former Editor and Creator of Idealist Careers, a publication of Follow me on Twitter @ajlovesya.

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    • Sally
    • November 6, 2013

    As an employee of a state institution of higher education, our salaries are visable to coworkers. I have personally seen this lead to resentment, anger, and negative competition. As someone who knows I make nearly half of what my coworkers make (same job) while exerting the same amount of hard work, it can be a little rough on morale.

    • Suzanne
    • November 6, 2013

    If an organization “normalizes” salaries, then no one is getting more pay for the same type of work, the same level of skill sets, experience and effort. There are industry standards and ranges, and I can see how it would totally build morale to act fairly within these standards, clearly communicating rationale to employees.Considering that women on average still make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes doing the same work, that bosses have favorites, that some people feel more comfortable in negotiating for themselves, I applaud Buffer’s efforts to create a fair workplace where people can put away worry about compensation, focus on creativity and enjoy their work. It speaks volumes about Buffer’s leadership.

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