Editor's Note: Although this Classic was first published over five years ago, I'm not sure much has changed. Are organizations creating better forums and opportunities for constructive conversations about compensation? Have you made progress at your employer with this issue, tried out new practices and approaches, moved the needle to a better place? If so, let's hear from you!
In talking to young professionals, as I've had lots of opportunities to do in the past few months, both in focus group sessions as well as individual conversations, I often hear a particular theme repeated.
They have many questions about their compensation. They wish both that the topic could be more openly discussed and that it could be more acceptable to ask what's on their minds. They are frustrated with what one young technology professional called the "hush hush" nature of the subject.
They believe that there is a stigma attached to asking questions about their pay, that the mere act of bringing up the subject will brand them as a troublemaker, a malcontent, someone who is only there for a paycheck and not interested in the work or the organization.
In an effort to bend to propriety and expectations, they stockpile their questions and concerns for the annual salary review conversation. But this works about as well as having managers collect performance feedback throughout the year and then dump the entire load on the unsuspecting subordinate in one conversation. Not the best timing, process or set-up to ensure employees are clear about their pay opportunities.
And we are squandering the chance to pass along and reinforce the story of our reward programs - to shine a light on the path we want interested and motivated employees to follow in order to maximize both their earnings and the success of the organization?
Is it a training thing? An accountability thing? Who is falling down on the job here - is it us ... or the managers? (I suspect it is probably both, in all likelihood.)
Do we need to create stigma-free pay conversation zones? A quarterly Pay Armistice Day?
Just some Friday thoughts and questions.
Ann Bares is the Founder and Editor of Compensation Café, Author of Compensation Force and Managing Partner of Altura Consulting Group LLC, where she provides compensation consulting and survey administration services to a wide range of client organizations. She earned her M.B.A. at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School and enjoys reading in her spare time. Follow her on Twitter at @annbares.
Creative Commons image "Quiet Please" by ell brown