Discomfort Grows over Salary Conversations

February 5, 2010 (PLANSPONSOR.com)A new survey finds people have grown more uncomfortable with talking about their salary level.

A news release from job site Glassdoor.com said 17% of respondents professed to discomfort when discussing compensation with anyone – up from 11% in May 2008.

For workers more comfortable with salary conversations, 33% will talk salary with their best friend, compared to 25% with their boss and 18% with a human resources representative.

“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,” said Rusty Rueff, of Glassdoor.com, in the news release.

According to the announcement, those 18 to 34 are twice as likely to be comfortable sharing salary details with their best friend (42%) than with a human resources representative (20%), while 31% are comfortable discussing pay with their boss.

Of those 55 or older, 25% are comfortable sharing details with their best friend and boss (24%), while 14% are comfortable discussing compensation details with HR. Younger men 18-34 exhibit the greatest comfort sharing pay details with casual acquaintances (11%) compared to just 2% of women aged 18-34 and 2% of men 55 and older.

The survey was conducted by Harris Interactive from December 15-17, 2009, among  2,257 adults ages 18 and older of whom 1,356 were employed full time/part-time and/or self employed.

Salary Conversations Comfort Levels

 Spouse / Significant Other:                66 %

 Best Friend:                               33 %

 Boss:                                      25 %

 Financial Advisor:                         24 %

 HR Representative:                         18 %

 Other Employees at Their Level:            15 %

 Other Employees at a Higher Level:          6 %

 Casual Acquaintance Outside Work:           5 %

 Other Employees at a Lower Level:           4 %

 Other Employees Who Report to Me Directly:  2 %

Source: Glassdoor.com