Let’s have an Open Salary Policy!

Interesting press coverage recently on Executive pay. Interesting because this was a bone of contention with husband and his company. We often discussed the sometimes ocean of difference between those at the bottom and those at the top of the salary structure and wondered what would be the consequences of his company adopting an “Open Salary Policy”. Google this subject and it is noticeable that not many hits come up for this policy in the UK. Happy Computers publish the salaries of all their staff, and probably their employee’s expenses as well, making it impossible to hide such things as “gifts” purchased for customers, Tumi suitcases for colleagues, Faconnable coats or other dubious items.   Another advantage of publishing salaries would be to tackle gender inequality in pay – are you receiving the same as your male counterpart…….?

I work rurally, here we have to drive to work and I love looking at office car parks (I know, I should get a life). It’s interesting that the spaces near the front door are normally reserved for directors and these painted oblongs often resemble a two year old episode of Top Gear. Porsche Targas, shiny Audi’s, Range Rooney’s and the like. However, the further back you go in the car park, there you will see the workhorses, they need a clean and a service but are probably good family cars that are economical to run. And don’t even get me started on personalised number plates – you want one? Don’t you realise it’s cheaper to change your name by deed poll to match your existing plate?

Am I digressing again, probably. Open salaries. Where you work, do you know what your receptionist earns? Or if that’s too much to bear, how about as a percentage? You might not want to know the exact amount, but what if it was published that the Sales Manager earned 10% more than the Sales Team and the Sales Team earned 10% more than the Administrators etc etc. Then this travels upwards. Those above earn 10% more than the Sales Managers until finally you arrive at the top. Fudging the issue I know, but this could be more palatable that actually saying the boss earns £200k whereas the Receptionist takes home £16k. And no, I do not have a mathematical brain to work out the difference in percentage terms of these two amounts but I know it’s huge.

There are those who’d say “but why?” Why should everyone know what the boss earns. It’s not just being nosey; don’t you think you’d be happy as an employee knowing you were worth as much to the company as your boss? And for a boss, come on, what are you trying to hide? If you are running a fair and open company, rewarding those whose hard work it is that has put you in your position, or kept you there, wouldn’t you like your staff to know that they were appreciated – or do you really appreciate them?

Baby steps are sometimes needed, how about starting with bonuses. Round about this time Christmas bonuses are often discussed by staff – often against company policy – why? More secrecy? Who’s getting more than me? Well, blow it all out in the open and do a John Lewis. Staff meeting, announce your profits and/or losses and tell everyone they are getting the same percentage of their annual salary as everyone else. This reminds me of a spectacularly “gobsmacking” moment I had at a previous job. The small team that we were (about five of us) were discussing a business idea we had come up with. We all thought this idea was THE best thing and that we should put our money where our mouths were and invest our own cash in the “thing”. Then we began to metaphorically spend our dividends. Now, stick with me here, our 5 were made up of owner of company, sales manager, IT person, admin and fulfilment. The sales manager actually said that he should earn more in profit sharing because he was going to do all the sales. This was in front of his three colleagues.  I have to say, I was rendered speechless, temporarily. Once I’d scooped my jaw off the table, I argued, why was this fair (yes, those were the days when I believed that fairness existed). And even though I tried to point out that if I didn’t answer the phone, do his paperwork, send out invoices, he wouldn’t get any commission, he still wouldn’t be swayed from his belief that he should earn the largest portion.

Moral of this tale: You’re right, big bad world, there is no fair and unfair in this world, but there is secrecy and that creates bad feelings. Rather than wielding knives, wouldn’t you rather have your workforce united behind you?

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