How to Discuss Salary With Coworkers

How to Discuss Salary With Coworkers

Do you know how much money your coworkers make? If not, you could be hurting your bank account. Not all employers are transparent about salaries, and this could lead to inequality. It's important for you to know what your coworkers make so you can ensure fairness and equality in the workplace. Additionally, your knowledge could help you negotiate a better salary. Unfortunately, talking about salary is a difficult conversation. Your coworkers might not be comfortable with the topic, so you need to proceed carefully. Find out how you can bring up the topic without alienating your colleagues.

Know Why People Don't Like the Topic

Before you start talking about salary in the workplace, you should know why people are uncomfortable with the discussion. For one, the topic is often demoralizing. If someone learns that you make more money than they do, the individual could feel bad about themselves. They might feel cheated, undervalued, or any number of unpleasant feelings.

If you find out you're underpaid, there's a similar problem. You might lose motivation or harbor resentment. Either way, your feelings are likely to affect your job performance or relationships. People often are quick to take their emotions out on their coworkers rather than their employers.

Know the Full Story

You should never ask a coworker about their salary before you know all the details. It's too easy to jump to conclusions and assume you have an identical background as your coworker. However, there could be many reasons for a pay discrepancy. They may have a different background or much more experience. Unless you know all of the details about the person's history, you can't be certain about the reasons for their salary.

Sometimes, a salary difference is a result of varied benefits. For instance, you might have more paid time off or a more flexible schedule than someone with a higher salary. You shouldn't make too many assumptions before you learn all the facts.

There's also the issue of deceit. If someone is uncomfortable with the topic of salary comparison, they might lie about their pay. A friend could lie to avoid conflict, or a toxic coworker might lie to make you jealous. Once again, you shouldn't just assume the facts based on what one person says. If you have a genuine concern about a salary discrepancy, speak with your boss.

Develop Trust

The best way to bring up salary is to wait. If you don't have any close friends at your job, you should avoid bringing up the topic of salaries. Wait until you have a bond with the other individual. Otherwise, they may not trust you enough to have the conversation.

Find some common ground with your coworkers and move on from there. Once there's mutual trust, you can gently bring up salaries. This prevents you from setting off alarm bells or dealing with an HR issue.

Know the Company Rules

Some employers make their employees sign a non-disclosure clause, prohibiting them from discussing salary. To avoid violating a policy and possibly losing your job, you should check into the rules and regulations. Read over your handbook and contract and make sure you can discuss your salary.

Technically, it's illegal for an employer to prohibit an employee from discussing working conditions and wages. However, employers can prohibit the topic during work hours. If you want to play it safe, only discuss your pay after hours and outside of the office. Keep in mind that salary transparency matters, and you may want to look for a new job if your employer prohibits salary discussions.

Test the Waters

You can't force someone to talk about their salary. Before you delve into the topic, make sure the other person is comfortable discussing their pay. One gentle way of bringing up your pay is to mention an instance of inequality in a workplace. For instance, you might cite a statistic about inequality in the workplace and use that as an icebreaker.

If at any point the other person seems uncomfortable, stop the conversation. You don't need to know the pay of everyone in your office. As long as you can find a few people to discuss their pay, you can make an educated decision about your own salary.

Do Your Research

You don't need to discuss salary with your coworkers to get all the details. If you'd rather, you can also research salaries for your position online. Thanks to search engines and job platforms, you can find a great deal of information online regarding salaries.

As you research pay, keep in mind that regional differences could affect the range. In one part of the country, a high demand for your role could result in a high salary. You need to consider other details as well, such as benefits and schedules. Consider where your salary fits in the average range and look at all the factors. Then, you may be able to realize whether or not you have a fair pay.

Talk to HR

If your company has an HR department,  you can reach out to them to talk about your pay. They may also be able to shed some light on the rules regarding salary discussions.

Not all HR departments will be willing to be open about pay ranges. Once again, you should be wary about working for a company that isn't up front about salaries. They may have something to hide.

Find a Job with Better Pay

If your employer makes it impossible to discuss salary or if they don't pay you fairly, it's time to find a new job. You should look for a position with an employer that is more open about their pay. During your interview, ask questions about salary to learn more. Here are a few questions you might want to ask:

What's the salary range for this role?

What is the maximum potential salary?

How do people advance to higher salaries?

What do you base salary on?

If a company is too discreet about their pay ranges, you should move on. You deserve equal pay, and there are employers out there that promote equal pay.

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