That is the title of a recent Compensation & Benefits Review piece by Howard Risher, the publication's Editor and an occasional contributor here at the Cafe. This also seemed to be the consensus in a discussion among his editorial board (comprised of some of the smartest people in the field -- and also me). No real doubt as to the whether, it is only a question of when.
I struggle with this, as any of you who've read what I've written on the topic know. Probably many of you do as well. Full transparency means access to all the facts. Accordingly, transparency advocates typically demand that all actual employee pay information be made public, so that everyone in the organization will have the information they need to judge the equity of their own paychecks compared to what others receive. But will they? The Department of Labor has historically held that pay is legitimately affected by a number of factors, including education, experience and performance. Do we release pay information without also releasing the other facts necessary to understand/gauge pay levels ... like details on an employee's education and experience as well as their performance appraisal documentation? Or just share half the facts, allowing "the public" to draw their own conclusions about the other half?
All that aside, however, it is difficult to argue with the fact that there is momentum building behind the pay transparency movement. Regulatory, generational and -- perhaps most importantly -- social momentum. As some brave organizations step up to open up their compensation practices, and I suspect we will see this happen with companies bigger than the start-ups like Buffer who have gained publicity for open salaries, the pressure on everybody else may begin to ratchet up.
What does this mean? It means that the window to get your act together compensation-wise may not be open indefinitely. If you have pay clean-up that needs to be tackled, it may be time to put a plan together. For many organizations, the plan must begin with clarity and education. For all of them, communication will be a -- if not the -- most critical aspect of the plan. I'm no employment lawyer, but I suspect that as the necessary pay adjustments begin to take place, employees will respond better if they understand that the adjustments are happening as part of a declared set of organization-wide forward-looking compensation goals and a plan put in place to meet them.
And so the time has come to start paying like everybody's watching -- because they may doing just that sooner than you think!
Ann Bares is the Founder and Editor of the Compensation Café, Author of Compensation Force and Managing Partner of Altura Consulting Group LLC, where she provides compensation consulting to a range of client organizations. Ann serves as President of the Twin Cities Compensation Network (the most awesome local reward network on the planet) and is a member of the Advisory Board of the Compensation & Benefits Review. She earned her M.B.A. at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School, is a foodie and bookhound in her spare time. Follow her on Twitter at @annbares.
Creative Commons image "Binoculars V" by chase_elliott