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Should Co-Workers Tell Each Other Their Salaries?

Should Co-Workers Tell Each Other Their Salaries?

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By Dr. Marie Gould Harper
Program Director, Management, American Public University

Every so often, this question comes up, and I find the responses very interesting. Recently, author and human resources expert Liz Ryan posed this same question on LinkedIn, and I had the opportunity to address it from my perspective as well as respond to some of the other posts.

Start a management degree at American Public University.

Over the years, my response to this salary question has been the same. Employees talk. Companies need to be prepared, and if they have not been transparent, there may be ill feelings in the workforce. Therefore, I have been a proponent of organizations advertising salary ranges and being fair in compensation practices.

Knowing Your Market Value Is a Necessity When It Comes to Salaries

Companies can be like consumers. They want the best “price” for their money. If you do not know your value, they may not pay you what you are worth.

There have been multiple conversations on what is the right thing to do. There are still companies with hiring managers and HR professionals who will offer you the lowest possible salary to save the company money.

Do not assume an employer will offer you the “going rate.” Companies need to do the right thing by paying the current market value for positions, especially in a tight labor market.

On the other hand, I also believe an employee is responsible for finding out what the average rate of pay is for the work that they do. By having the proper information, employees can negotiate and make educated decisions in regard to salaries when they accept a job or promotion. You, as the candidate, can then determine your destiny and decide if you walk, accept or stay.

Determining Your Market Value and a Fair Salary

There are several ways to start determining your current worth:

  • Check the market by going to sites such as www.salary.com to see what the market rate is for the position that you desire.
  • Review ads for positions in your geographic region and/or industry to conduct a deeper search.
  • Ask questions and network with professionals in the area to see if you can find out salary information.
  • Become comfortable with discussing the salary that you want. Unfortunately, being uncomfortable discussing salary goals can cause you to shortchange yourself. Some companies will offer you what they think you are worth. If you have not done your homework, you might be offered a salary below the market rate.

If you have a workforce that feels empowered in determining how much they make and believe they are making a “fair” salary, the idea that it would be wrong to discuss salaries would no longer be valid. Can we ever become that transparent? That remains to be seen.

About the Author

Dr. Marie Gould Harper is the Interim Dean for the School of Business and the Program Director of Management at American Public University. She holds an undergraduate degree in psychology from Wellesley College, a master’s degree in instructional systems from Pennsylvania State University and a doctorate in business from Capella University. She is a progressive coach, facilitator, writer, strategist and human resources/organizational development professional with more than 30 years of leadership, project management, and administrative experience. Dr. Gould Harper has worked in both corporate and academic environments.

Dr. Gould Harper is an innovative thinker and influential leader, manifesting people skills, a systematic approach to problems, organizational vision and ability to inspire followers. She is committed to continuous improvement in organizational effectiveness and human capital development, customer service and the development of future leaders.

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