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The Information Power Imbalance can exist not just between the employer and the employee, but also between HR/Compensation and a manager who may be concerned about retention, or fairness, or may just want to oil a squeeky wheel. With the manager I can be transparent and show them the raw data and walk them through it. Does anyone provide this level of transparency to employees? With what results?


Excellent follow-up to Chuck's post. I agree that putting information on the table is often a great way to level the playing field. In a vacuum of information people will use their imagination. While there is surely some accurate information publicly available for free via the internet, there is also far too much misinformation. It is not fair yo employers or employees to discuss or negotiate based on falsehoods and wishes.

Providing facts as the foundation for a conversation gives everyone the same starting place. This won;t create automatic agreement, but at least the disagreement can have similar origins.

Great observation, Ann! An interim solution is to refer employees to publicly available reliable sources like BLS OES/NCS or Statistics Canada that may lack the industry/size/location/time specificity of the really GOOD surveys of employer-provided pay information. They will reveal a valid and reliable ballpark number which a competitive employer should be exceeding, in most cases.

We sponsored SalaryExpert.com exactly because of the credibility gap that can exist when employees present "magic" numbers from some online dotcom garbage supplier with a business model that does NOT requre (or even desire) statistically accurate and demonstrably verifiable pay numbers. It gives updated estimates projected from each national pay database. Not commercial-quality stuff for employERs, but quite sufficient for employEE enlightenment. When a challenger slaps down a printout of some goofy salary posted in the anonymous ether, you can refer them to those open sources rather than reveal your expensive and easily-misunderstood employer surveys.

Recruiters and talent brokers would rather flash fuzzy but impressive salary imaginings than present facts that are truly expensive to collect and report, if they are to be meaningful. Follow the money. Look at the continually declining number of independent pay survey firms, and consider Sturgeon's Law.


I've had opportunity to work with a few organizations that do completely open up the pay information doors to employees (typically by request) - but they are certainly in the minority.

I think that part of the reason it is easier to share the information and have an open conversation with the manager is that employees often, in addition to having poor sources of information, also have difficulty seeing the work they do with an unbiased eye. (Frankly we all do.) The conversation about outside pay comparisons can be even more challenging with the employee who assumes that because they have 10-15 years experience working as an engineer, they should compare themselves to "Principal Engineers" externally when - in fact - their poor communication and follow-through skills have prevented them from moving beyond the classification of "Intermediate Engineer" internally.

Of course, all those organizations handing out inflated titles as a supposedly cheap "reward" aren't ultimately doing themselves any favors in this regard, either.


I agree that sharing as much information as possible - even if it is simply descriptive of the overall market pricing process and the specific criteria used to select valid survey sources - helps build trust in the job valuation process.


Great points - I have referred a number of employees to the BLS data as one of the best free sites out there.

You also make note of the very interesting point that at the same time we are witnessing an explosion of "fuzzy but impressive salary imaginings" online, the declining number of legitimate, professional pay survey firms is declining due to the difficult nature of compiling valid, accurate pay information - at a price corporations will pay - in a world of ever more complex work and splintered/hybrid roles. Suggests to me that we're heading toward some kind of cataclysmic change in the pay survey biz. Will be interesting to follow....

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