For decades, discussing pay in the workplace was taboo. But now, the salary transparency trend is changing candidates’ expectations when looking for jobs.
Job seekers don’t want to feel lowballed after several rounds of interviews. And companies large and small need to stay on budget while courting top candidates. No one on either end of the hiring process wants to waste time or money.
Wage transparency is becoming the new norm, and 79% of US employees expect some degree of disclosure, while 32% want total pay transparency.
Job seekers increasingly reject companies that don’t provide salary transparency for employers who do –– even if the pay is the same. And there are many advantages to disclosing pay ranges.
While the benefits of transparency seem significant, there are potential drawbacks to consider.
What does pay transparency actually mean?
Pay transparency happens when companies open up about their pay practices. Many employers now list salary ranges in job descriptions, which is becoming law in many states.
While pay transparency doesn’t always reveal what employees make, it helps workers understand how their pay compares to market averages. Pay transparency can boost confidence in an employer while ensuring fair pay policies.
The primary reason for pay transparency is to promote equity in the workplace. Wage transparency helps eliminate pay gaps by holding employers accountable for their pay policies.
How job seekers benefit
Employees thrive in work cultures that promote fair treatment. Job seekers want a caring employer who pays without bias. And fair compensation is vital for optimizing creativity and avoiding burnout.
Knowing a company’s pay range helps job seekers determine which roles to apply for based on salary needs. Pay transparency laws also force companies to compete for candidates by bringing their best offers to the table.
However, high performers may face a downside since transparency can close the gap between them and less qualified candidates over time. Wage transparency may move salaries closer to the midpoint range for everyone. As such, some companies may lose top talent to competitors willing to pay more.
Pros + cons for businesses
A smart business strategy requires a willingness to evolve –– but a pay policy must accommodate a company’s unique needs. Weighing the pros and cons of pay transparency can help circumvent potential problems before they arise.
Here’s how pay transparency can benefit businesses:
1. Companies can improve workplace satisfaction.
Brands can boost morale by increasing transparency around how they pay people. Productivity and creativity improve when workers feel that compensation is fair.
2. Salary transparency helps foster and maintain trust.
Companies can protect their reputations as desirable employers by showing that they pay well and competitively.
3. Published pay ranges streamline the hiring process.
Businesses can ensure alignment with salary expectations from the get-go by sharing pay ranges with candidates upfront –– no last-minute hard feelings or disappointment. And some brands take this a step further by publishing salary bands on their websites.
However, pay disclosure may create trouble if companies aren’t prepared.
1. Disclosure can cause resentment among teams.
Revealing this information can cause hard feelings among team members if salaries aren’t already fair. This is especially true if employees believe their performance surpasses team members with higher salaries.
2. Pay is personal, and not everyone wants to talk about it.
Some employees aren’t comfortable discussing their paychecks publically. In many cases, transparency can simply mean showing how a company determines pay without revealing salary amounts.
3. Transparency may mean less workforce stability.
Some brands are facing increased employee mobility as workers seek out higher-paying companies. But positive work cultures –– that include pay equity and transparency –– tend to have greater retention rates overall, so it’s probable that the benefits balance out risks over time.
Also, it’s important to note that marketing and creative teams across industries, including the finance and tech sectors, increasingly rely on freelancers to fill staffing gaps.
Freelancers operate as businesses of one with overhead –– like taxes and insurance –– to consider. While your eye is on your bottom line, theirs is also on operational costs.
Talented, well-established contractors require pay transparency to consider an offer. Transparency can help secure the best and most consistent performers when sourcing talent outside a permanent staff.
How wage laws are changing
Salary transparency laws aim to prevent discrimination during the hiring process.
About one in four US workers live in a state that requires pay transparency policies, including salary range disclosure. A salary range includes the lowest and highest amount offered for a role, depending on a candidate’s experience level.
Companies must list salary ranges in job descriptions –– and hiring teams must also share this information with candidates during the hiring process.
While many employers have concerns about changing their hiring practices, noncompliance is costly. Penalties can range from $300 to $250,000 per violation.
Salary transparency laws are now in effect in:
- Cincinnati, Ohio
- Ithaca, NY
- Jersey City, NJ
- New York City
- Rhode Island
- Toledo, Ohio
- Westchester County, NY
Pay transparency laws can present challenges for employers who recruit outside of state lines.
For example, a company looking to fill a remote position must create job postings that follow wage transparency laws across states. As a result, some employers restrict remote employment or require a hybrid arrangement. Companies that embrace remote work are more willing to overhaul their recruitment and compensation practices.
Despite potential drawbacks, pay transparency provides a significant opportunity to cultivate more equitable work cultures. Having open conversations about money can foster a healthy, creative workplace.
Progress and innovation require adaptation to meaningful change. Companies that thrive in uncertain times embrace relevant trends and use them to improve their processes. In this new job market where change is the only constant, most employees want (and expect) salary disclosure.
For companies that want top talent, team cohesion, and a healthy, positive work culture, pay transparency is a must. The bottom line is: When people feel valued, they thrive. And that’s good for business.
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