Ever wondered what your co-workers make? Employees at one Colorado company don’t have to guess. They know.
Boulder-based Namasté Solar, a Solar panel installation company, may be on the cutting edge of business practices for a number of reasons. One certainly among them is the fact employees know what their co-workers are being paid, according to American Express OPEN Forum (h/t Business Insider). In addition to bi-annual retreats and a voting system that counts the opinion of nearly everyone in the company, each employee receives equal bonuses, while no worker's salary is allowed to be more than four times anyone else's.
"Usually, salary is an emotional and sticky situation," co-founder Blake Jones told American Express OPEN Forum. "In the end, people actually waste more time and energy wondering how much Bob or Jill is making and thinking the worst."
Namasté Solar made headlines back in 2010 when President Obama visited the company's headquarters, but a recent bill may have reminded him of the company's transparent pay policy. The Paycheck Fairness Act, which failed to pass the Senate this week, not only included measures to reduce pay discrimination against women, but highlighted the ongoing debate over salary transparency by including a measure that would prohibit employers from punishing workers for sharing information about their salaries.
Indeed, not all employers share the viewpoint of Namasté Solar. Some even require that employees keep compensation confidential or face termination, The Atlantic reports. That's because forcing workers to keep quiet about their pay arguably allows employers to keep payroll expenses down, while others say pay transparency only serves to increase worker dissatisfaction. An ongoing poll by The Economist reveals only 47 percent of people think pay should be made public.
Still, nonprofits, government agencies and publicly-traded companies all have to share the compensation levels of at least some of their employees, according to The New York Times. Other companies such as Fog Creek Software have instituted systems where employees are ranked, with those at the same level receiving the same salary, Inc. reports.
It's been argued by many that increased salary transparency is the way of the future, particularly with the advent of sites like Glassdoor.com, where workers can anonymously disclose their salary for reference. We'll have to see.