Talking About Your Pay With Coworkers

Talking About Your Pay With Coworkers

If you want to be certain that you're receiving fair pay, you need to know what your coworkers are making. But you can't do that if you don't talk to your coworkers about your pay. It's not an easy conversation to have, and it's one that you should tackle with caution. Before you start a dialogue, check out these tips.

Why It Matters

In today's world, there's a great deal of unfairness. Although there are laws in place to prevent discrimination and promote equal pay, people still get underpaid. Whether it's intentional or accidental, your boss might not pay you as much as your coworker.

The only way to be sure there's equal pay is to compare salaries. However, no one likes to bring up the subject. Some people think doing so goes against company policies, but no employer can prohibit you from discussing your wage. According to federal law, every employee has the right to discuss their salary. The policies might prohibit you from discussing wages during work hours, but they can't keep you from addressing the topic on your own time.

Other individuals hesitate to discuss wages because they want to avoid drama or upsetting coworkers. Although this is a possibility, you can avoid conflict by planning your discussion. You don't need to brag about your earnings or make someone feel uncomfortable. If you're tactful, you can have a very productive conversation.

How to Discuss Salaries

If you're in the private sector, discussing your pay with a coworker might seem intimidating. Even if you're close friends with someone, you may feel awkward about bringing up the topic. But until more employers are transparent about their pay, you need to be willing to bring up the topic. After you initiate the conversation, you might find that it's time to ask for a raise or find a new job.

Research Before You Discuss

You don't need to have an awkward conversation to learn what the average person in your position makes. First, do your research. You can go online and search for the salary potential for certain careers and employers. As you research, take notes. If you find out that you're underpaid, you can share examples from your research with your employer. A salary comparison is a great way to negotiate a raise.

When it's time to discuss salary with your coworkers, you can use your research to kick off the conversation. For instance, you can say the following, "I was researching the average salary for our role and was surprised to find that the pay was higher than what I receive." Then, wait to see the response. They might choose to initiate the discussion themselves.

Make Sure They're Comfortable

While some of your coworkers might be comfortable discussing their salary, others won't want to share. You should ensure that your conversation doesn't make anyone feel pressured or uncomfortable.

So how can you be certain your coworker wants to discuss pay? Start off by being respectful. Before you initiate a conversation, ask your coworker the following:

"Are you comfortable speaking about your pay to promote transparency?" Make it clear that you're asking for the right reasons and not simply brag about your salary. If your coworker seems uncertain, you can kick off the conversation by talking about pay inequality or the value of pay transparency. Don't be pushy or invasive, and end the conversation if you suspect the other person feels uncomfortable.

Share Yours First

Your coworker might not be comfortable sharing their pay with you first. In an effort to promote transparency, share your salary before they do. In doing so, you may make your colleague more eager to share their own pay.

This only works if you explain why you're sharing your salary. As previously mentioned, initiate your discussion by talking about why pay transparency is so important to you. If you have an anecdote about someone who was drastically underpaid, use that as an example of why transparency matters.

Use Written Communication

Are you uncomfortable with having a direct conversation about your pay? If so, there's another option. You can email your coworker about the issue of pay transparency and your desire to compare salaries. Using the tips above, gently approach the conversation.

Typically, this is a better discussion to have in person. But there's something about email that gives people the confidence to discuss uncomfortable subjects. When all else fails, log into your email and spark a conversation.

Don't Gloat

When you're talking to a coworker about pay, resist the temptation to gloat. This isn't a conversation to compare who's better. Rather, it's a way to promote equal pay for everyone.

Speak with HR or a Manager

There's also a chance you can discuss this topic with your employer. If you have a good relationship with a manager or supervisor, talk to them about equal pay. Find out if they're willing to share details regarding average pay for their employees.

Work for the Right Employer

Employers can greatly benefit from being transparent about salaries. Typically, employers who don't hide their salary information have more productive and happy employees. Despite the benefits of transparency, some employers simply refuse to be upfront about what they pay their employees.

If your employer makes discussions about salary taboo, you should consider finding a job with another company. Here are a few things an employer can do to be more transparent about what they pay:

List Salaries on Listings

All of your job listings should show salary ranges. Usually, pay discrepancies happen when employers are unwilling to share salary details with new employees. Be as open as possible with salary ranges in all of your job listings.

Explain How They Decide Pay

It can be difficult for employees to compare pay because there are so many factors that go into deciding a salary. If you are clear about how you determine pay, your employees will be able to understand why there are pay differences.

If an employer doesn't do either of the following, it might be time for a new job. As you look at job listings, make a note of pay transparency!

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