Pay Transparency: A Plus for Employers

A recent PayScale survey shows that a company that is more transparent about its remuneration gets more satisfied employees. We talked with Guylaine Béliveau, a human resources consultant.


The survey conducted among 7,600 US, Canadian, British and Indian companies compares pay practices of organizations which have exceeded their revenue forecast in 2015 (about 30% of respondents) with those of other organizations. Among these successful companies, almost half (47%) believe in openly communicating information about compensation with their employees. In the under-performing companies, the figure is two in five (40%), a significant difference according to the report.

Some critics
Although she is not surprised by these results, Guylaine Béliveau, Senior Consultant at PCI-Perrault Conseil inc., analyses the numbers carefully. According to her, the concept of “pay transparency” advanced by the American company is insufficiently detailed to fully grasp its meaning. “Are we talking of providing all information relating to the salary structure? Or set the record straight on the minimum and maximum rates? I do not know what they mean by the concept of 'transparency',” she says.

Then, there is the relationship between pay transparency and performing company established by the survey which, according to the expert, is not clear. “Is it because a company is successful and it pays more that makes it more transparent? Is it the opposite? In short, is it the chicken or the egg? Which comes first? Personally, I think transparency opens the door to positive results, but no more,” she states.

All in all, good
That being said, Béliveau highlights some good points raised by the 2016 Compensation Best Practices Report for PayScale. She was particularly struck by the apparent shift in transparency between employers and employees highlighted by the report. “When 40% of organizations estimate themselves as being transparent while only 21% of employee believe the same, those results are scathing. It points out that perceptions vary considerably from one camp to the other,” she states.

Another interesting fact put forward in the survey: not all organizations are well equipped to communicate pay transparency. “Only 17% of companies say they are confident enough in the skills of their managers to clearly transmit this type of information. More training in this field seems necessary, while 35% say they already offer it,” she says.

Guylaine Béliveau agreed with one of the main findings in the report: the importance of context. “If an employee knows that the organization is doing well, but should, for example, invest in modernization in the coming years, they will be more understanding, and therefore satisfied, about their compensation. But it is still necessary that this information be properly passed along!” she concludes.

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