Saturday, April 26, 2008

Salary Info Gets Out? Really?

An athlete's worth to a college is often negotiated behind the closed door of a coach's office with the scholarship amount kept a guarded secret, like a salary in a workplace. But the figures have a way of eventually getting out, as they do in any office.
The part about salary info getting out seem like false conventional wisdom to me. I have read similar assertions many times over the years, but in my 20+ years experience, both as employee and manager, it is just not very accurate. In general nobody discusses salaries of others in the workplace, and I have known of specific cases where there were substantial outliers, in both directions, and neither the outliers nor their peers seemed aware of the situation.

Ironically, 2 hours after posting, this, I saw this article in the NYT that seems to say differently. I remember, 20 years ago, my cousin Cliff opined that this social taboo worked to the disadvantage of employees, since it preserved a condition of information asymmetry in compensation matters. Which is exactly one of the motivations cited for the move toward frankness among friends in this regard.


  1. Information is power, always.

  2. I agree - I've never known salary to be discussed openly among employees, except maybe among a group of employees all hired at the same level (right out of college) and for the same salary - like when I worked at the Fed. That doesn't break much of a taboo, though.