SURVEY SAYS: Discussing Salary With Coworkers

We covered a survey that found nearly seven in 10 full-time employees (68%) talk with some work friends about how much money they make.

Last week, I asked NewsDash readers, “Do you discuss how much you make with any of your coworkers?”


Obviously, responding readers want to keep the salary conversation confidential as only 6.8% reported they discuss how much they make with some coworkers. The rest do not discuss it with any.


The vast majority of respondents who left comments were on the side of not sharing salary information with coworkers. The two top reasons being it could cause resentment and it is no one else’s business. Of course, a number of respondents work in an HR or payroll function and noted that the information could be looked up. Those on the side of sharing salary information cited knowing whether they are paid fairly, eliminating pay inequality and keeping employers accountable. Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who said: “Never, never, never and never.”


A big thank you to all who participated in the survey!



I’m all for it. Employees should be able to see how fair or unfair their employers are.

Nobody’s business but my own. Besides, unless he or she showed me his or her actual pay stub, I wouldn’t believe it.

Getting buy-in for whether or not I’m being paid fairly.

Why would you? You either will upset them because you make more for doing the same work, or you’ll upset yourself for doing more work for less pay!!

Some things seem to have changed in the workplace over the years that are now viewed as acceptable like showing up on time or dressing appropriately but I believe discussing salary with coworkers should still be considered as inappropriate.

We are state employees so all of salaries are publicly available. Anyone can find out what the other makes.

In a word, no. I’m not close friends (i.e., outside-work-friends) with anyone at my level or I might consider it. Even then, though, differences either way (they make more than me or I make more than them) would likely engender envy. Talking about pay with those at other levels would seem fruitless.

But you should have asked about their age. I am over 50 and that was taboo for my generation(s) not so (and good for them) more recent generations

I was in payroll for many, many years and the first rule of payroll (much like Fight Club) is ‘Never discuss pay rates with anyone, for any reason’.

…and yet everyone seems to know

It’s usually selective which employees I discuss it with and at times with vagueness. It would probably help more if coworkers discussed salary more often and probably help with some of the gender inequity if coworkers knew what the “going” rate was for certain jobs.

I am curious, but I’m afraid that sharing this information will lead to resentments.

Not a good idea. Causes hard feelings.

People talk… you can’t stop that. In Colorado, you cannot forbid your employees to talk about wages. I personally don’t want others to know what I make.

Bad idea

If there was a past tense, “have you”, I would select that. I used to, when I had coworkers I was more friendly with. They’ve all since left, so I no longer talk about $

Never. But several of my co-workers do; we are in HR, I guess the thought is we could look it up.

I keep salary info between myself and the employer.

Discussing salaries with co-workers is seriously frowned upon by my employer. I prefer others not know what I make. Sharing that info can lead to jealousy and backstabbing.

Since I know I’m underpaid, why would I want to let my coworkers know that also?

Someone will always be unhappy with the conversation, either the employee stating their wage or the coworker they are discussing it with.

Never, never, never and never.

However, I’m in the unique position of having access to the wages of every person in the company. Otherwise I might want to know so I could determine whether I thought I was being fairly paid.

Duties and responsibilities vs pay? Job vs career? Exempt vs non-exempt? Unless you are willing to get into a full-fledged philosophical discussion, there is no good way to compare yourself to others. Better to keep the information to yourself.

Discussing compensation with co-workers brings nothing but discontent. If you feel you are not being compensated fairly, do the research for your field and area, then present your case to your management. If they don’t hear you, continue to develop your skills and perform at your highest level, while you search for the position that best meets your needs.

Salary should never be discussed among co-workers. It can lead to lesser paid employees feeling slighted and bitter toward the company.

I work in HR so I would never discuss my wages with my co-workers. I also advise employees not to discuss wages. No one is happy when that happens.

I don’t discuss with co-workers. But my husband was having dinner with his family and he told them we had $5 million in savings. Not sure if they believed him, but we would never get there because we would quit working way before that mark!

I’m in HR and we all know what each other makes.

Never have I done this!

Some conversations are not appropriate between coworkers. This is one of them.

Everyone thinks they are worth more than they make, so I avoid that discussion at all times.

At most, we may “joke” about not making enough, but we definitely don’t talk numbers. However, in our positions, we know generally what each of us makes.

Pay should be private

Why would I or #NFW or #MYOB

When I was new to corporate salaries, I was curious and wanted to compare exact numbers. Having a salary range available for view is appropriate. I appreciate the ability for individual achievements and negotiations/mobility.

It would be unprofessional to discuss salaries. That is between my employer and myself.

Work in comp area – most close coworkers have access to info. However do not discuss with friends/relatives or others outside of work.

Although some current thinking is to be transparent, it’s only human nature to want more than the other person which causes disruption in the work force….seen it for myself.

Maybe in a general sense, but nothing detailed.

I don’t see how any good can come from it.

Due to the nature of my job, I can see people’s salaries. It’s not something I try to find out and not something I try to remember. My salary is my business, and their salaries are their business.

I’m old school – it really isn’t anyone’s business. My compensation is between me and my manager. Besides, working closely with HR Operations and HR business partners, if they really want to know, they have access to the information.

I discuss salary with other managers at the firm. We want to know what others make in similar positions for our own negotiation purposes. In a perfect world, this wouldn’t be necessary. This is a male dominated company and women tend to be paid less.

Someone always ends up unhappy…

The older I’ve gotten the less interested I have been in what others are paid.

When you find out you do not make as much or more than certain individuals, it only irritates you and makes you less productive. You can’t accept that maybe you really aren’t worth what you think you are – a thought to ponder.

None of their business!! Plus, knowing someone’s salary really can cause issues within the office. “They don’t deserve it”, “I deserve more”, “I work harder than they do”, “They don’t know how to manage their money”, etc…

There is no possible up-side to such a discussion among mid to upper level employees. Somebody will end up feeling bad.

I think salary should not be a secret and if you really work to earn it, there should be no jealousy.

This should never be done

I consider it to be a personal matter and I discourage others from discussing their salaries with other coworkers. As the administrator of the Salary Payroll function at our organization, I hear complaints from co-workers constantly about how much this person makes or why did that person get a raise, etc. I try to counsel them to mind their own business, and encourage others to do the same.

Why would anyone ever divulge such personal information?

Nope. Never. There is absolutely no upside to this. Either you find out you make more, and they’re pissed – or you find out they make more, and you’re pissed. Or you find out you make the same – and one, and maybe both – of you are pissed. Don’t ask, and for sure don’t tell.



NOTE: Responses reflect the opinions of individual readers and not necessarily the stance of Strategic Insight or its affiliates.