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Interesting findings Ann. One question Frank didn't pose is whether you would be willing to share your pay details "anonymously" in order to search on other's. That's the premise behind Glassdoor (www.glassdoor.com) and I'm torn as to whether this helps or harms the employee/employer relationship. Any thoughts?


Thanks for the thoughts and questions (amazing that you are finding time to read and comment on blogs these days)!

I did have a really interesting conversation with Rober Hohmann (founder of Glassdoor.com) about this whole question awhile back, which led me to post this...

I think one of the biggest challenges that the wide availability of Internet pay data has brough to us is the fact that employees and employers now have their own (often quite different) sets of facts by which to judge an individual's pay. That being the case, I think we in HR/rewards (if we are smart) need to have an open, adult conversation with employees about these different sets of pay information and the conclusions they lead to.

So I think we can argue whether it is helpful or harmful; the bottom line is that it's now our reality, and we'd best address it head on ... and in as transparent a manner as possible. (Note that I am talking about transparency around how the pay program is built and administered, not sharing everyone's salaries with everyone else...)

Those are my thoughts! :)

Excellent Ann, thank you. Per your comment above, I spoke with one of their co-founders recently and when I posed a similar question regarding an employee's ability to understand the subtle nuances of pay, pay parity, base/bonus/benefits/retirement, etc., he seemed unconcerned. As I've personally experienced from complex merit cycles and the like, even a well-tooled manager if often challenged to comprehend and effectively communicate the elements and strategy surrounding total rewards. By extension, I then fear that employees are ill-equipped to process such "content" in the "context" of what they seek.

Thanks for your response, and yes, I don't sleep much these days! :)

One of the downsides of "transparency" is the degree of valuable industrial intelligence it enables through access to supposedly confidential information. Some online services appear to be in the business of selling secrets to competitors and vendors... from data collected from individual employees volunteering proprietary employer data in exchange for a freebie. Not even counting those who offer online payroll planning that gives them access to your entire pay budget and identifies your key players.

If they don't clearly state they will not expose or share the information submitted, they are free to analyze, bundle and sell it to those who wish you no good. Can give you nightmares, if your own people are unwittingly stabbing you in the back.

Interesting angle and point, Jim.

This is very interesting information - thanks for sharing. I have a question for you...if employees are doing a good job of linking their pay programs to their performance management programs, does making individual salaries transparent have any implications for making individual performance ratings transparent?


It's like you read my mind! See March 4 posting where I ask exactly the same question!

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About The Author

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    Compensation consultant Ann Bares is the Managing Partner of Altura Consulting Group. Ann has more than 20 years of experience consulting with organizations in the areas of compensation and performance management.

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