Why Pay Structure in the Workplace is Stupid & Senseless

Maybe fake money is the answer.

I don’t know about you, but where I work, no one talks money. By $$, I mean salary. While some have their theories about why it’s in management’s best interest to remain conspicuous and buttoned up on subject of money (TheJobBored’s Brian McCullough asserts it’s in a company’s “best interest to keep salaries secret so that they can keep labor costs down”). His logic isn’t far off from my own. Personally, I can’t see an age of true transparency, such as a New York Times article suggested where such discussions are commonplace and every employee knows every other employees salary.

Would I want that?

I’m not so sure…But there are places that do a good job of setting employees at ease by making the work less about the $$ and more about the culture (and seem to succeed at this). For those of us a little more pragmatic in terms of wanting to pay the bills, other places, such at Motek, a firm that the NY Times cited in the article I referenced offer identical salaries for employees at the same level. When someone wants a raise, a raise is negotiated at the team level. This concept were the brainchild of the company’s CEO who spent her formative years in Israel and wanted to extend the socialist ideals of a kibbutz and people pitching in for the good of the greater community. She also someone who had experienced first-hand gender inequity with salary.

I can’t help but think for all the emphasis that’s put on the term “teamwork” in both agency and consultancy workplaces, very few American Fortune 500 companies adopt such practices, which inherently contradicts all the lip service that’s paid to this concept. By not having the very thing that drives and motivates individuals to move up the ladder correspond directly with a overall financial well-being of the greater team or have any consequence, the cynic in me wonders why anyone would bother.

What are other less innovative places doing?

Universities tend to do a good job of scaling salary expectations with pay grades, but then again unless you’re more senior, universities aren’t known to pay too well either. Still, people who work at universities tend to stick around since the work-life balance is optimal and they get other perks (free tuition, access to university facilities, etc).

The Weather Channel keep salary info confidential, but claims it doesn’t fall into “that black box” either and people are given data to explain salary.

While it’s natural to seek out math to to do the #s, employees also want to be talked like people – not like lemmings. We want to know that what we do is important and that the teams we report into NEED us. It’s more than an email every now and then, it’s more than a pep talk, it’s showing me & my peers the appreciation. If pay is directly correlated with performance (as is stressed to us) and corporations emphasize teamwork first and foremost, than the next logical step is streamlining HR policies like the one Ann Price innovated.


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