I recently had a great conversation about the values and true reasons behind non-compete agreements in the consulting world. It involved talk about fear and intimidation along with mutually assured destruction and legal implications. Although that is an interesting topic, it is not what I want to talk about here. In re-evaluating my thoughts on that subject, I started to think about other policies that are worth similar analysis. A couple of days later I was talking to my wife about her company and commented that she should have an open salary policy. She was not sure what I meant by the statement, and frankly I was a little surprised I suggested it. I went on to explain that if she was open with her employees and contractors about their rates, then it would be a better working environment for everybody. If the rates were fair then nobody would feel like they were getting neglected or underpaid. She was skeptical, and still is, but as we talked more about it I realized that it is something that everybody should think about.
Having an open salary policy would take the fear and secrecy out of the conversation from an employee perspective and put pressure on the company at all levels to be true and fair with their employees. If everybody knows where they stand in a company from a salary perspective then they can feel good about their position and salary and stop worrying if they are making less than the other employees at the same level. By having this open policy, employees know the salaries at each their position and the levels above them. This means that an employees know exactly what the salary is at the next promotion level in the company. If the salaries are set appropriately, people will strive for those higher positions and work harder for the company because they know what they will get when they get there. If implemented in a way that sets fair salaries for everybody, this open policy can have a positive effect on employee satisfaction, retention, work ethic and even overall company cohesiveness.
In the coming generations, I believe that is going to be a greater need for transparency and fairness in all parts of a company. People don’t just want a company to say that they are environmentally positive, they want to know the detail of their carbon footprint and see what they are doing to improve it. People don’t just want companies to give money to charities, they want to see the CEO out building a house for the homeless. I believe that this applies to transparency and fairness of salaries as well. People aren’t going to want to work for a company that just says they are paying a competitive salary and that everybody is being paid on an equal scale, they want to work for a company that is willing to prove it.