Comparing salaries: No, thanks. Not in this economic climate

A survey about salaries found that workers are less inclined to talk about their paychecks than in previous years.
Written by Sam Diaz, Inactive

There's an interesting survey being released today by Glassdoor.com, a site that tracks and compares salaries by job type, industry and geography. Sure, it offers up some statistics and such but it also points out how the recession also adjusted salaries. In different times, it seems that some people were a bit more open about their salaries, sharing and comparing with others in their offices or professions.

But now, in an age of layoffs, pay cuts, bonus eliminations and forced work furloughs, employees aren't so eager to talk about their paychecks - maybe because it's depressing or embarrassing or simply a subject that's just too sensitive to even discuss.

The folks at Glassdoor say that there's a "new normal" when it comes to salaries and, without some comparisons, it's harder for co-workers to know if their salaries are on track, below average or - dare I say - above average.

When it comes to talking about salaries, 17 percent of the survey respondents said they are not comfortable talking about their salaries with anyone, up from 11 percent a year ago. Those who are comfortable talking about it actually prefer to talk to family or friends about it, instead of someone who has the ability to make salary adjustments, such as a boss. Among employees willing to talk money, 33 percent said they'll do so with a friend while only 25 percent will talk to the boss and 18 percent will talk to an HR rep. Glassdoor.com career and workplace expert Rusty Rueff said, in a statement:

People have this underlying fear that talking about their salary or negotiating compensation with their boss or HR will make them look like they are ungrateful, especially in an economy where just having a steady paycheck is important. We’re living in a different era and companies and employees should be more open about compensation to bridge gaps in expectations and reach a common understanding of the ‘new normal’ in today’s economy. Salary levels will take time to recover to pre-recession rates, but the more open we are to discussing what we are worth, the better we can prepare for the short and long terms.


Credit: TechRepublic

Other takeaways from the report:

  • Employees of the social media generation, ages 18-34, are more comfortable talking money than their older counterparts in the 55+ age group.
  • Employees in the Western U.S. are twice as likely to share salary information with equal-level colleagues (22 percent) than employees in the South (10 percent), the Northeast (13 percent) and midwest (16 percent).
  • The less someone makes, the less likely they are to discuss pay. Among workers earning between $35,000 and $49,000, 31 percent say they're not comfortable talking about it, compared to 10 percent of those in the $50,000 to $74,900 range and eight percent of those in the salary range of $75,000 or more.

Glassdoor pulled some data to look specifically at tech jobs and we did the same, courtesy of sister site Tech Republic, which offers a free download of its annual IT Skills and Salary Report on its site (registration required). The data in the chart above is from 2009, with 2010 data expected to be released in the coming weeks.

The chart below was compiled by Glassdoor, using its own data. Obviously, it's not a true apples-to-apples comparison - different surveys, different methodologies, different data - but it does provide some insight . It'll be interesting to see the 2010 numbers from Tech Republic when they're released in a few weeks.

As long as I'm putting up charts, here's another that Glassdoor ran for us, looking at the companies that pay the highest salaries for specific jobs:

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