What Would Happen If Everyone’s Pay Was Known?

What would happen if everyone knew how much everyone else was making?

Crazy, you say? It might work for major league sports, but not for us.

Wait a minute, says Josh Ingalls, who was Sr. HR Business Intelligence Consultant at Des Moines Principal Financial Group when he proposed to a DisruptHR group there that pay be utterly transparent. It has some important benefits, he said, plus fears of the consequences of opening the payroll to every employee are probably overblown. Pointing to fears of giving employees emails and internet access and social media, Ingalls said, “We’ve been pretty bad in the past about predicting what things are going to be a dumpster fire.”

So what are the benefits?:

  • “It empowers you to find the right people.” When putting together a team or developing a project knowing what people are paid enables you to do a real cost / benefit analysis, Ingalls explained.
  • It makes individual performance conversations more honest. “Imagine going in to your boss and having an honest conversation about where you stand in the reward structure in comparison to the value you provide,” he said.
  • It lays bare any discriminatory pay disparity.

There are some risks, Ingalls acknowledged. Some people might be embarrassed. Those who guard their privacy will be uncomfortable. And there’s the possibility of the information being used in an employee lawsuit.

But none of those, he insists, are the reasons companies don’t make comp public. Watch the 5 minute presentation to learn why Ingalls believes companies keep pay a secret and how making it all transparent is a good move and easier than colonizing Mars.

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