Is it a good idea to share your salary with your coworkers? The intent being to support each other with salary negotiation? Or will it always backfire. Please cite real-world examples.


4 Answers 4


In theory it is a good idea to be open about your salary. This protects people from being screwed and helps companies be more fair with the pay. As for real world examples often in gender pay gap discrimination cases people don't really know they are being paid less than male coworkers. Here is just one case though it did not specify how the person found about the salary, but it wouldn't have hurt.


This is all in theory though. Some people might feel resentment having people get paid more than them. Some might judge others on not making as much. One thing that is for sure is it is always in the employers favor for the employees to have less information about how their coworkers are compensated. It really depends on how open your coworkers are and how open you are to sharing information.

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    Still feel as if that is favoring the employer and not the employees. Perhaps it benefited you, but in the case of a colleague getting paid more for a similar job I would want to understand why. Do they have other experience or educational factors, are they just that more productive and valuable? Whatever the reason knowing can help the employees see if they are truly underpaid or if there are other factors and skills they can work on to help make themselves more valuable. Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 2:32
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    How do you know your coworkers haven't negotiated a 600% salary raise and kept quite about it? Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 2:49
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    Because they passive-aggressively moan about their "lame raise" in the lunchroom and not do anything about it.
    – Nelson
    Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 2:59
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    Perhaps they are lying. Putting coworkers against each other by hiding salary serves no benefit to the whole besides allowing the company to underpay coworkers. You didn't get a raise because your coworkers are getting paid less. You got a raise because you demonstrated the value you could provide to the company. Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 3:48
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    @Borgh in a perfect World I totally agree with you, however business is a rough place and far from perfect, plus you have a limited time to make your advance through your career. You need to get what you want which may be a lot more than what you deserve. If we all got what we deserved 90% of politicians would be hanging from a gallows
    – Kilisi
    Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 21:20

It depends.

Some people are remarkably sensitive about money and some aren't. Personally, I've found sharing my salary to really help my career (I was getting paid less, doing the same or better work and used my newfound salary info to ask for a raise, which I got). Specifically, I was earning 100k (which I was really happy with at the time) to find out people in the similar role with similar experience were earning closer to 120k. I used that info to talk with my manager about how based on my recent successes I deserved a raise and they granted it to me. That being said, I was working my butt off and being a real team player so I'm sure that played into it.

Othertimes, I have noticed some friends getting uncomfortable or resentful when I discussed earnings with them. Especially if the gap between our incomes was larger than 10 or 15 percent.

At the current company I work for, we are large enough to have a (employee created) anonymous database of reported incomes based on role, seniority and location. It's super helpful. I'd recommend that as the best approach for someone who is interested in learning more about the 'paybands' at their company without having to worry about making anyone feel uncomfortable (since it's anonymous).

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    That database could also be the fast track to getting fired, this is very company culture specific. Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 8:51
  • @morbo - definitely second morbo's comment. I wouldn't touch a database like that with a 30-foot pole. (And even if I did: I certainly wouldn't trust the actual numbers. Why trust that anyone's actually entering their real salary?)
    – Kevin
    Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 17:47

I believe there is another, one may say ingenious, solution to your problem. By working as a team with your fellow coworkers, you can strategically use the knowledge of what you all make to negotiate everyone’s salary. However, at the end of the day, you and your coworkers combine what you all make and divide it amongst yourselves evenly. The trick is that your employer cannot have any idea that this plan is taking place. In his or her eyes, they will think that these individual negotiations imply that they have created a healthy, competitive work environment, when in reality, it doesn’t matter who makes what, just as long as someone is getting a raise, everyone wins.

My coworkers and I started doing this about 8 months ago and it’s honestly the best case scenario. I haven’t had to work one lick harder, yet I’m making a great deal more than before. My boss seems to be pleased with how “hard” we work and it has brought me closer to my fellow comrades.

  • How long did you work together before sharing salaries? Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 4:55
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    I started working at the company about a year and a half ago. I was brought on to a pretty veteran team. There was one other new hire with me, so we were pretty naive to the current situation. But the rest of my team had been talking about this idea for some time. Being young and new I thought why not lets try it out I have nothing to lose. And it's honestly the best decision I've ever made. Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 5:08
  • How do you avoid certain members feeling like they work harder but other workers that they may perceive as lazy are getting the same pay? This is the big problem I've encountered in similar cases (ie flatmates sharing the workload and rent 'evenly')
    – Stun Brick
    Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 9:45
  • This might work fine if you all provide roughly equivalent value to the company, which I think is seldom the case in jobs with individual salaries. While you are making more, now someone is making less than they could have been.
    – cdkMoose
    Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 15:06
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    This solution can backfire when doing tax returns. You will have to disclose additinal income from this setup (and some may want to show it as a cost) and somehow be sure you can prove the amounts are correct. In a country where your employer sends an advancment of tax this will be difficult. It would be easier if you will set up an llc or similar and work with your current employer as a business.
    – Zefiryn
    Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 15:17

Real World Example : Check your contract.

I have had experiences with organizations where the contract explicitly mentions that all matters related to your remuneration and compensation is confidential between you and the organization. Employees were only allowed to disclose the particulars of the contract and salary revisions only with the authorized personnel (HR Executives, not even reporting manager). By sharing that information publicly, therefore, you'll be breaching the terms.

No one can stop you from having over-a-beer chat with your friendly colleague about the range of the compensation overall and your expectations, but make sure you do not do anything that can be used to determine a particular number and traced back to you as breach of terms.

Otherwise, if there is nothing specific in the contract that prohibits you from disclosing the information, use your best judgement on what an how much to be shared.

  • Interesting: Reason for disagreement? Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 5:17
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    Depending on what country you live in, of course, I can, for example, see how in the US employers will come after you guns blazing fi you even share a range over beer, secrecy of pay being their top-most tool at screwing employees over pay, but in the country I live in courts routinely(!) toss away such cases, when an employer is stupid enough to sue at all, deeming the secrecy clause unlawful and unfair, excatly because it deprives employees of knowing their fair market value. As always, geography is political.
    – user110557
    Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 8:42
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    Apparently employers can't legally prevent you from discussing your salary in the US or in the UK, although there are plenty of other reasons to be a bit careful about how and with whom you share it or whether you share it at all.
    – NotThatGuy
    Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 11:02

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