Up until last week, none of the 170employees working at Verve, a marketing company, knew what anyoneelse made. Now, everyone's salary is listed on an internaldocument for everyone to see.By 2019, all 1,100 employees atCareHere, a Nashville based health-care company, will know the payranges for all positions in the company. Fog Creek, a NewYork-based software company with about three dozenemployees, did the same last year. As did Hired,an online job search network in San Francisco that employs 200people.Employers have long discouraged talking about money atwork, in part because obscuring salary information keepscompensation costs down. But that attitude is starting to change.In a survey of almost 2,000 employers by the consulting firm WillisTowers Watson, more than half of the respondents said they plan toincrease transparency around pay decisions in the next year.Paytransparency can mean a lot of things. A minority of companies aretaking the most extreme approach, where everyone knows whateveryone else makes. A larger share of companies are lettingemployees in on the voodoo behind their pay practicesand explaining what goes into compensation decisions.Others are revealing pay ranges for positions and posting thatinformation alongside job listings.“Many of us who entered theworkforce a longer time ago entered into a culture whereyou didn't talk about pay,” says Sandra McLellan, who heads WillisTowers Watson's North America rewards practice. “Today, people aremuch more comfortable discussing what they earn.”Employees nowhave more access to compensation data than ever before—just notnecessarily from their employer. Sites such as Glassdoor andFairygodboss aggregate and list pay information for thousands ofjobs across industries, giving workers a clearer picture ofhow their pay stacks up against that of their co-workers. EvenLinkedIn has a feature that breaks down pay by job title andlocation.The proliferation of information is leading to some issuesfor employers. More than anything, people want to feel likethey're being paid fairly, surveys have found. Armed with this newinformation, many of them are going to their managers andcomplaining that they're not.To make their case, employers such asCareHere have decided to give employees more information abouttheir pay. “We were finding that when employees and candidateswere coming to us with salary information, they were misinformed,”says Jeremy Tolley, the chief people officer at CareHere. “Alot of the information available for free is inconsistent at best,”he adds.“Less than 10 percent of employers include pay informationin job listings, yet 98 percent of job seekers want pay data beforeapplying to jobs, so there is still a disconnect,” says ScottDorobski, the senior director of corporate communication forGlassdoor. LinkedIn told Bloomberg it strives for accuracy in itspay information and that employers can even submit their owndata. Fairygodboss said its salary informationreflects crowdsourced data.The factors that go into what makes upsomeone's salary are complex, employers argue. When employeescomplain about a raw number, they don't know the full picture,like how location, bonus pay, or benefits fit into theequation.Instead of asking employees to just trust them, CareHerehas undertaken a five-year plan toward more transparency soemployees better understand their paycheck. The journeystarted three years ago with the codification of the company'scompensation philosophy. “We took all the things that wereunwritten and put that together in a document,” saysTolley. In addition, managers received training on talkingabout pay.Workers also got more information on the numbers: Currentemployees have access to salary ranges for their positions, alongwith an explanation of how that fits into the market rate fortheir job. At the end of next year, the company will post thoseranges on job listings. By 2020, CareHere hopes to share allinformation around employee compensation—short of everyone'ssalaries.Transparency has benefits beyond employeehappiness. “It's going to make it easier to recruit people. It'sgoing to make the negotiation process during hiring much easier,”says Callum Negus-Fancey, the founder and chief executive officerof Verve, which has offices in London, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas.“It's not that people don't want the extra $20,000; they don't wantto be the person who missed out on an extra $20,000.”Postinginformation about pay can also signal an employer's values andculture. That's partly what moved Hired, the job-hunting platform,to share salary bands with its employees and even post its pay gaponline. “Our mission is to get everyone a job that they love, andpeople love jobs where they're paid fairly,” says Hired CEOMehul Patel.Pay equity is also a big driver in transparency, andcompanies are under more pressure to prove they pay employeesequally. Shareholder activism from Arjuna Capital has pressuredmultiple banks and tech companies to report their pay gaps.Legislation in various states and cities, including California andNew York, has also banned employers from asking aboutsalary history to curb discrimination.The jury is still out onwhether transparency helps close pay gaps, but employersoften find and correct inequities on the road totransparency. Before going transparent, companies usually dopay audits to ensure everyone is being fairly compensated.Often there are people who, for one reason or another, are notmaking as much as they should be. CareHere's Tolley says thecompany found problems with “pay compression,” where salarieshadn't kept pace with market value. When Verve didits pay audit earlier this year, it ended up correcting morethan a dozen salaries. Fog Creek had to up the salaries of a fewworkers, too. And, Hired spent $2 million in 2016 correctinginequities.Not everyone wants to share their salaries. Onestudy found it can lead to general crankiness amongworkers who feel like they should be making more money.Thatsaid, companies going transparent are taking many steps to ensureemployees feel their salaries are fair. Negus-Fancey, the VerveCEO, personally called each employee who had misgivings about paytransparency. “We dealt with a few people who had a kind ofemotional response to the idea,” he says. “We want to make themfeel that they're listened to.”

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