I recently changed contracts from educational to full-time at my company and colleague from accounting asked me if I had negotiated my pay yet. I said yes and was about to tell him, when he interrupted me: "... you don't have to tell me... although I would probably see it eventually anyway when handling your team's finances."
Due to the change in contract I tried to talk to a lot of people about pay, but no one would give me any numbers. They seemed to guard the pay amount as a secret as important as the pin to their credit-card.
In the end I took what I was offered without much of a negotiation, except for more flexibility in work-times since I would like to do part-time studies in the near future. I was hoping to get a picture of how pay is connected too work expectations, but not a single person would tell me a number - not even from outside of my company.
Has anyone had success with talking to people about pay? How can I get local picture of the relation between pay, expected results and work environment flexibility?
Thanks for all the feedback - I got some great insights. I also talked on this topic with people around me, and wanted to share an interesting view I heard, and see what you people think of this explanation:
It is known that many people don't work for the pleasure of the activities at work. They go to work to get money, in order to be able to enjoy a level of comfort or finance some type of life-style outside of work-hours. Most don't personally identify with their jobs, it's just something they happen to be doing that isn't too bad, but nothing special either.
That being the case, salary is for most people such an important negotiating point, that all other job aspects sort of fade into non-existence. People see differences in jobs only by the difference in pay. If everyone's pay is known, people would focus more on how to get that higher pay rather than on doing "real work"(which companies actually run on). The taboo on pay is a practicality that evolved to avoid completely having employees focus on compensation.
Maybe this is unhealthy social behavior (must suck to not identify with your job, since you spend most of your life there...), but perhaps most places in the world are not as socially developed as Scandinavia.