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Can you please cite a recent study that shows the percent of the US workforce that is interested in public release of salaries by employers.

Also, perhaps a few words on the impact knowing what others are paid has in the public sector.

Hear, Hear, Derek! Well stated. I have personally found "open" public pay consulting projects refreshingly peaceful, compared to the highly politicized selectively-secretive environments of private industry. Anything publicly shared tends to be well founded and highly defensible while whatever is kept secret is automatically assumed to be unjust and unfair.

Skylar: http://fortune.com/2015/10/15/pay-transparency/ and https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/on-leadership/wp/2015/07/21/breaking-the-taboo-of-sharing-salary-info-in-silicon-valley/ support Derek's points, but I'm unaware of any comprehensive national survey about support for pay disclosure. It works in Scandinavia. Here, SEC forces corporate NEOs and IRS compels executives of tax-exempt entities to reveal their incomes. Only the extreme outliers catch any flack.

Jay: since Derek tends to be shuttling between Dublin and Boston, I'll continue to "intrude" with this reference to some Cornell research http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2011/07/the-case-for-making-wages-public-better-pay-better-workers/242238/.

Thank you Jim! Great to hear about your experiences and those are some of the same sources I would point to as well. The only other research I might mention is a Glassdoor report that has looked at frequency of Google Searches as a proxy for national interest in transparency... https://glassdoor.app.box.com/s/j0ntaw9w0hib3mrcvxky5xjwzvgfb16y

Great catch, Derek. That Glassdoor roll-up article lists some of my research sources and cites other earlier ones, too. I'll forgive the economist cited there who misunderstands what "pay compression" means, however. It is not the same as "pay equity" despite involving similar comparative judgments. Except for that minor quibble, it gives a good summary of the issue.

I did find one national survey and it found this:

Workers appear to be even less favorable to the idea, however. Two-thirds (65 percent) would not like it if their company openly disclosed all salaries.


Now how about the high performers? Jay Schuster's study that found that:

In 1973, researchers set out to explore the idea that motivational gains from an open pay system would benefit better performers by documenting that their pay raises were larger and more frequent than those of lesser performers. The research was conducted by surveying 575 professional employees at a major division of a large company. The results of the study indicated that better performers did not have a clear cut preference for an open pay system (pay levels and increase amount are public). They favored secret systems slightly more than did poor performers. The researchers predicted that “a great deal of dissatisfaction” would result from an open system in their company. They recommended that organizations implement such a system only after ensuring that employees understand the purpose of the change and after convincing themselves that it would increase employee motivation.

Schuster, J. R., & Colletti, J. A. (1973). Pay secrecy: Who is for and against it? Academy of Management Journal, 16(1), 35–40.

Can't argue wih what Colletti and I said in 1973 can I??? Ha Ha

Given the lack the wage growth and shift toward services, I wonder if's Jay's conclusions still hold true 40 years later.

The ONLY value in something that old is the realization that we continually cycle through the same issues for decades without resolution. Frankly, I am 'done' with the issue of pay secrecy. It is my view that the public sector has an 'open' pay system to promote 'sameness' and not have to deal with issues of performance. And the only people in the private sector who will be willing to have an 'open' pay system are those who are willing and able to explain the reasons for differences. We are stuck with pay secrecy in most instances I fear.

Before I decided to 'retire' Pat and I were going to write another book. To this end we had conducted a 'host' of telephone interviews with executives on pay strategy, design, etc., etc. We just did not have the energy to convert this into a book but we have the data. As it works here I will try to put 'bits and pieces' of what we found in my comments. The reason we agonized getting CEOs to talk about pay and rewards is they have a vastly different view of rewards than do professionals in the pay and benefit business. And THAT difference is a ready made 'career builder' for people in our profession.

Regarding open pay policies effects on employees:

In 2008, several economists studied the effects of public pay information on the pay satisfaction, job satisfaction, and job search intentions of about 1,700 employees at three state universities in California. The researchers notified a random sample of employees of the existence of a new website that provided salary and wage by name for all university employees. All university employees were then surveyed about their use of the site, pay satisfaction, job satisfaction, and job search intentions.

The responses of those who visited the site were then compared to those who did not. Most new users (87%) reported that they investigated the wages of colleagues in their own department. Administrative data from the school was matched to the survey responses to compare the responses of employees above and below the median salary for their department and occupation.

Following are the important findings of the study:

o There were very few large differences, regarding pay satisfaction, job satisfaction and job search intentions, between the responses of employees who were aware of and those who were unaware of salary information on the website.

o Information about co-worker salaries in the department had the most negative effect on the attitudes of the lowest paid employees and no effect on employees at or above the median in their department.

Card, D., Mas, A., Moretti, E., & Saez, E. (2010). Inequality at work: The effect of peer salaries on job satisfaction. NBER Working Paper No. 16396. Retrieved from http://www.nber.org/papers/w16396.

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