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Should You Talk About Your Salary With Coworkers?

Most people don't discuss how much they make, whether it's because they're afraid of hurting someone's feelings (including their own) or because their company has a policy against it. But a few companies are bucking that trend, opting for total transparency when it comes to paychecks -- with varying results.

Marketplace.org has an interesting profile of one such company. Boulder-based Namaste Solar allows employees to look up everyone's paycheck on a communal spreadsheet, a move which some workers welcome as a way to avoid the usual political wrangling and suspicion that go with a more closed approach.

"I don't feel short-changed," says accountant Terry Lima, despite earning less than some of her colleagues. "I am also grateful to know that there's no back-door deals, that I don't have to do some political something so that I can make more money for myself."

On the other hand, others have found that even small wage differences can stick in employees' craws.

"I have a colleague who's making a little less than me who comes to me and says 'I don't think you deserve to make more than I am making,'" said VP Amanda Bybee. "This is a true story. He said it respectfully. I listened to him with as much openness as I could. And we're talking a difference of a thousand dollars a year."

Ultimately, employees at Namaste Solar seem to think it's worth it. CEO Blake Jones says the policy builds trust and makes employees more accountable. After all, there's nothing like knowing that your neighbor makes more money than you do to make you sit up and take notice of his long lunches.

But what if your company doesn't have a policy one way or the other? Marketplace.org found that people who earn less but feel that they're worth more are more likely to share their salaries, while workers at the high end of the pay scale are more likely to keep it quiet.

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(Photo Credit: doctorwonder/Flickr)

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