Why It’s Beneficial To Talk To Co-Workers About Salary

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Employers often choose to keep salaries confidential and discourage workers from talking openly about how much they make. And while you may initially ruffle some feathers of co-workers or higher-ups if you share your salary information, you won’t break the law. Instead, sharing this typically taboo data may be quite beneficial.

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“For employees, there are actually a number of benefits of openly discussing your salary with co-workers,” said Janelle Owens, human resources director at Test Prep Insight. “I mean, there is a good reason why employers discourage it. Compensation blackboxes favor employers, as they can minimize salaries for certain employees by holding all of the cards. This one-sided knowledge base gives them leverage.”

While some employers may not be on board when it comes to employees sharing what they make with each other, it can make all the difference for employees.

“From the employee perspective,” Owens said, “the obvious benefit of salary discussion and transparency among co-workers is the reversal of this one-sided power model. When all the cards are on the table, there is no arbitration opportunity for employers to keep your salary low.”

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Here’s why it can be beneficial to talk to co-workers about salary.

It Can Reassure You That You’re Being Paid What You’re Worth

“When employees are actively encouraged to discuss pay with one another, they can catch discrepancies that HR might have missed, which is extremely helpful for both the employee — who now potentially gets more money coming their way — as well as the HR representative who otherwise might not have ever caught it,” said Nelson Sherwin, the manager of PEO Companies. “Keeping pay consistent across employees within a role and allowing transparency into the pay scale is absolutely essential in helping employees trust that the company they work for does not participate in sexist or otherwise discriminatory pay practices.”

It Can Help Bridge the Gender Pay Gap

“Discussing salary helps the underserved communities with opportunities of negotiating raises,” said Tejal Wagadia, career expert for Jobscan. “We all know that women make less than men, having male allies and having this discussion helps employees with the power to negotiate … I would recommend doing some research around what the ideal salary band is by going to sites like Salary.com. This gives [employees] more ammunition when negotiating raises.”

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However, there’s a caveat. If you do decide to negotiate with your employer based on what you discover, Wagadia cautioned against revealing the names of co-workers who were open to discussing salary information with you. Doing so could violate your co-workers’ trust in you.

It Can Help You Band Together With Co-Workers and Ask For Higher Pay as a Group

If you discuss your pay with your co-workers and find out that you all are underpaid, according to the market, then you can band together and ask for higher pay as a group.

“You should explain to your company that giving employees the salary they think they deserve will have a tremendous effect on employee satisfaction,” said Stephen Light, the chief marketing officer and co-owner of Nolah Mattress. “Employee satisfaction has a rippling impact on the productivity, mood and collaborativeness of an employee. When employees are satisfied, their output quality improves and can bring higher revenue to the company.”

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It Can Help Foster Bonding and Camaraderie Between You and Co-Workers

Owens feels that discussing salary with your co-workers can result in stronger, more positive relationships all around.

“Although there may be some initial resentment and hard feelings if you discover a co-worker with the same credentials as you makes more than you do, in the long term, you can turn this information into gain. This employee will generally have your back in supporting your bid for greater pay, and you can be happy for them for having given you the substantiation to ask for more. This support among team members results in bonding and camaraderie.”

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Last updated: April 19, 2021

About the Author

Cynthia Measom is a personal finance writer and editor with over 12 years of collective experience. Her articles have been featured in MSN, Aol, Yahoo Finance, INSIDER, Houston Chronicle, The Seattle Times and The Network Journal. She attended the University of Texas at Austin and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English.

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