While questions about salary history are top of mind for recruiters and candidates looking to be considered for jobs, employers are struggling with salary transparency issues every day. Pay has long been a confidential topic in the workplace. In fact, most conversations about pay are limited to review time or when an employee is being given a raise or adjustment. With some employers, salary transparency is beginning to change.
Current studies show that in the US only about 27% of employers share salary information with employees and early-stage candidates. Another 22% indicate they are likely to start sharing this information with both employees and candidates. So, the workplace is very evenly split on this topic of salary transparency, or will be, as those planning to share actually start doing so. A full 51% do not share salary info and do not intend to do so.
So, what are the advantages to greater salary transparency? Those that currently share details, they find it speeds the hiring process, streamlines the negotiation process, ensures fair pay, filters out and saves time spent with those that would likely decline and offer, and creates an environment where more interview time is spent on other topics.
The future is sometimes driven by the market and other times government intervenes. Governments worldwide are interested in fair pay and are busy pushing forward transparency laws. Even from an employer perspective, the goal is not really about transparency. The ultimate goal is fair pay; transparency forces that faster than good intentions alone. Fair pay then instills trust in the company and the process. Lack of transparency creates lack of trust and can create pay inequity that is systemic. Leaving employees in the dark can create candidates that are suspicious and employees that are distrustful. It has been found that many employees incorrectly assume they are being underpaid relative to market conditions. PayScale, LinkedIn and Salary.com are driving market transparency that will require employers to share more if they do not want to be compared solely against generic industry/marketing data. A clear picture of rates and ranges will give employees an awareness of standing within their current job and what upside exists. This can all be used to retain and motivate when used appropriately.
Transparency comes with both risk and complications. Each employer needs to make fully informed choices that have been strategically thought through and implications considered. No doubt recruiters will save considerable time on candidates that may be a mismatch on salary where employers are fully transparent on salaries.
It is certainly an interesting trend that while employers are in the process of becoming more transparent about salaries, recruiters and employers on the other side of the equation are becoming limited in what they can ask employees. Salaries are trending toward transparency while salary histories are trending toward completely obscurity.