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"Gunnysacking" is as bad as it is common. Management sensitivities and human nature being what they respectively are, I see limited prospects for swift or major improvements.

When my book on the topic didn't immediately change the world, I became resigned to taking smaller and slower steps for progress. Leveling is always superior to the alternatives, but it scares all parties. Yes, there are better options than the status quo mutual "surprise-party" practices, but Prentice Hall denied reprint rights to others who wanted to republish an update.

Best at this point to stimulate visitors to suggest their most successful methods to demystify total rewards and to defuse potentially contentious conflicts over compensation matters.

Ann, Great article.

It;s funny that you could have replaced the words pay and compensation with the word "sex" or "death" and you would have had the same young people 8-10 years earlier.

Perhaps it is less that they are uncomfortable than it is that compensation professionals are uncomfortable. Could it be that we do not feel like we can really explain our profession? Can it be than we build the aura of mystery around the topic because we don;t want to explain things that either don't make sense, or that we may not do as well as we wish? Might it be that we are embarrassed by the fact the compensation professionals are not great at asking questions about their own compensation so we put this feeling onto everyone else?

Just thoughts....

Love this article. I just had this conversation at church of all places. From a spiritual perspective, bare with me, we often talk about prosperity. But today the prosperity message was all about cold hard cash and attracting more of it. Somehow we have screwed up the definition of worth to mean "how much money do you make?" versus a person's worth on the planet as a creative, joyous, beautiful being that has great gifts to give beyond those we give to our employers (who pay us for these services). Can we decouple the two so skills and talents on the job are NOT equated to gifts and talents we give in great services to the world. I really think there is connection. Might this stop the jealousies and demoralization about who gets paid more than others? Yah I know, too woo woo and perhaps the workplace is not the best place to talk about higher powers. But, its kind of fun thinking about it!


Oh come on, you can spill a few trade secrets here, can't you? ;-)


I can't really disagree - if we dig to the root of the problem, we may well find that it's as much about our discomfort in explaining/defending than anything else.


What an interesting comment! Not too "woo woo" at all. Yes, perhaps we should be able to decouple our skills and talents on the job from our greater worth and gifts in the world - and maybe that would help remove some of the emotion from compensation. But the "coupling" is there for a lot of reasons - not only because there is a degree of social pressure that leads us to tie our personal "worth" to our paycheck - but also because so many of us are so invested in our work (for the wrong reasons sometimes, for sure, but for some of the right reasons as well) and want to have our caring efforts, our hard work and our sacrifices recognized and appreciated.

Great points all - thanks for sharing them here!

The value of the human being and the value of the work they are paid to do are two completely different concepts. One is infinite, while the other is a limited and situational commercial decision.

OK, Ann: here are some freebies...

In a prior corporate life, every new supervisor (up to VP level) took a Basic Supervision course including training on pay-setting by the former compensation manager and on performance appraisal by the head of the MBO program, including role-playing practice. Making the effective supervision of subordinates a mandatory evaluation field for every people-manager tends to hold their feet to the fire by providing consequences.

A simple but complete Pay Administration policy model resides in the WorldAtWork Sample HR Policies section, as well.

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