Meeting Your Employees Where They Are When It Comes to Pay Transparency


Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the Gainsight Pulse Customer Success Conference in Oakland. Among discussion of customer success best practices and trends, there were also deep-dive sessions on customer education and training — my personal area of interest as the Manager of Customer Education here at PayScale. One of the most thought-provoking sessions discussed the need to “meet people where they are” when it comes to training and information, which got me thinking — what does it mean to “meet people where they are,” specifically your employees, when it comes to talking about compensation?

Technology Has Changed How Employees Access Information

The first question I asked myself is: where are employees when they want to know about their pay? Short answer — everywhere.

It might be at home in bed, thinking about their checking account balance, or at their computer at work reading an article about how to negotiate pay. It might be on their smartphone on a bus on the way in to work in the morning or on their walk in to your office for their next one-on-one.

When it comes to technology, there may be only so much you can do when it comes to enabling mobile access to pay stubs or employee compensation reports, but outside of that — if we know employees can be thinking about pay at any given time, in any given place — how do we “meet them where they are?” When we don’t necessarily have the technology to put pay information at everyone’s fingertips, is there a way to approach the problem from a more philosophical perspective?

Another short answer — yes!

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Ask Them What They Want to Know

In order to meet someone where they are, we first need to understand where that is. When it comes to compensation information, one of the places your employees might be is “in the dark.” That means the first step to common ground can be simple — ask them what they want to know!

In order to meet employees where they are when it comes to compensation, first you must understand where that is. The answer might be 'in the dark.'Click To Tweet

If you are in the process of figuring out where to start when it comes to employee compensation communication, begin with a quick convo about what they know now, what they’d like to know more of, and then be honest about what information your org is willing and able to provide.

Expect These Kinds of Questions About Compensation

There is a common misapprehension that the only thing employees want to know about their pay is how to get more of that — but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Let’s reference the pay transparency spectrum to address the types of questions your employees might have about pay:

1. What are they currently paid?

  1. What is their current total compensation?
  2. What is the pay schedule and when are bonuses or incentives measured and paid out?
  3. How can they access pay stubs and how are taxes and other deductions determined and handled?

2. How is that pay determined?

  1. Who determines pay for their role?
  2. What kind of market data or other factors are used to decide pay for that job?
  3. Is pay reevaluated each year at a certain time?

3. Where does their compensation fall in the pay range?

  1. Is there a structured pay range for their role?
  2. How was that range decided and where does their current pay fall in range?
  3. What steps need to be taken to increase pay in their range?

4. Why is the pay for their job what it is?

  1. What is the pay strategy or compensation philosophy does the organization have?
  2. What other benefits and non-cash incentives make up the company’s compensation plan?

5. What are others around them paid?

  1. How does their pay compare to others in the same department or similar roles?
  2. What other roles are available to apply for that align with their skill set?
  3. What is the career path to those roles or others?

Understanding which of these questions may be top of mind for your employees is the best place to start determining “where they are” when it comes to compensation information and meeting them there with the answers that are relevant to the transparency level of your organization.

Tell Us What You Think

What are the most common questions your employees ask about compensation? We want to hear from you. Tell us your story in the comments.

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