A previous question asked whether or not discussion of salaries should be encouraged. I have a different question, which asks for meaningful research on the subject of whether or not salary discussions between coworkers actually cause problems.
This can easily happen. I've worked at offices where one person who was a far better negotiator than the rest of us was earning almost double what the other folks who did the same job were earning. It caused a lot of grumbling and animosity because company policies didn't allow for the sort of raises that would be needed to get the lower paid folks up to what the star negotiator was making. In that case, quitting to go work elsewhere was the only way to get a raise that got me even close to what the expert negotiators were making. I've identified my poor negotiating skills to be one of the areas I need to work on.
Personally, I find it a bit of a paradox that salary discussions would cause problems between coworkers, since clearly some people within a company are aware of who is making what, and to my knowledge knowing this information does not cause problems for them.
Is there any data that salary discussions between coworkers cause problems, and if so, what does the data point to as an explanation?
UPDATE: In response to the request for clarification for what "problems" mean, there's two parts to understanding its definition in my opinion, who and what:
- Who: Might be an individual, a group/peers, manager, company, competitors, and/or investors; I'm sure there's more, but those to me appear to be most likely to be affected. While I'm going to say the same for "what" - I'm most interested in who and what is most affected.
- What: As I stated in "who", my concern is who and what is being affected most. Assuming that the topic is limited to for-profit companies, I'd assume that the who/what for the most meaningful "problem" would be related to pairing of investors and profits; meaning that salary discussions between coworkers result in less profits for investors in for-profit companies.