To Share or Not to Share?


Korn Ferry Survey Asks Professionals Whether Revealing Salary Information to Colleagues is Off Limits

- Nearly 40 Percent Say It’s More Appropriate to Discuss Salary Today than 5 Years Ago - Vast Majority Say Younger Workers More Willing to Reveal How Much They Make -

Editor’s Note: Survey Responses at End of News Release

Los Angeles, Aug. 15, 2019 – Once thought of as an off-limits topic, the practice of professionals sharing how much they make with co-workers is becoming more frequent in the workplace. That according to a new Korn Ferry (NYSE:KFY) survey of employees in North America and Europe.

The survey found that nearly a quarter (24 percent) of professionals think it is appropriate to tell a colleague how much their salary is, and 37 percent believe that compared to 5 years ago, it’s more appropriate to talk pay today.

While only 16 percent admit that they tell colleagues how much they make, a quarter (25 percent) say their co-workers tell them how much they make.

The age of the employee plays a large factor in the share or not share conundrum, with 94 percent of respondents saying younger employees are more open to sharing details of their compensation with co-workers than are older employees.

The survey found that if an employee found out a colleague made more than them, 55 percent would ask for a raise without mentioning the colleague’s salary and 15 percent would mention their co-worker’s salary and say they wanted to be compensated at the same level.

An inconsistent compensation practice takes a major hit on employee morale, with 32 percent of respondents saying they would leave if their employer refused to match the salary of a comparably situated co-worker. Nearly half (43 percent) said they would become less engaged on the job.

“The social, political and regulatory landscape is changing with respect to transparency in compensation communications,” said Bob Wesselkamper, global head of Korn Ferry Rewards and Benefits Solutions. “This topic will likely intensify in the next several years as Europe and North America continue to move toward increased transparency in reporting compensation data that was once shielded from public scrutiny. Employers need to be ready.”

“Companies need to ensure that compensation is commensurate with the value that employees bring by putting in place the right compensation strategy, structure, design and benchmarking processes across the organization to secure fairness and equity in treatment for employees,” said Korn Ferry Senior Client Partner Tom McMullen. “If employees don’t believe that compensation practices are equitable, this data suggests that they will leave their organization – or worse stay but be less engaged and productive.”

About the survey

There were 1,872 responses to the online executive survey, which took place in July 2019. Please note that due to rounding responses may not equal 100 percent.

Survey responses

Do you think it is appropriate to tell a colleague how much your salary is?
Yes - 24 percent
No - 76 percent

Compared to 5 years ago, is it more appropriate today to tell co-workers how much you make?
Yes - 37 percent
No - 63 percent

Do you tell colleagues how much you make?
Yes - 16 percent
No - 84 percent

Do colleagues tell you how much they make?
Yes - 25 percent
No - 75 percent

Who is more open to sharing their salary information with colleagues?
Older employees - 6 percent
Younger employees - 94 percent

Does your employer make available the salaries of employees?
Yes - 5 percent
No - 95 percent

What would you do if you found out a co-worker at your same level and with the same level experience made more than you?
Nothing - 30 percent
Ask for a raise without mentioning your co-worker’s salary - 55 percent
Point out that your co-worker makes more, and you think it’s unfair - 15 percent

What would you do if your employer refused to match the salary of a co-worker who makes more than you?
Leave - 32 percent
Become less engaged and motivated on the job - 43 percent
Nothing - 25 percent

About Korn Ferry

Korn Ferry is a global organizational consulting firm. We work with clients to design their organizational structures, roles and responsibilities. We help them hire the right people and advise them on how to reward, develop and motivate their workforce. And, we help professionals navigate and advance their careers.

Tracy Kurschner

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