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Full Pay Transparency - Only If the Cameras Are Rolling....

Privacy issues reign supreme when it comes to pay transparency. You have a silent majority in your company. This majority doesn’t have fundamental issues with the way they are paid, and are fine with your system as is, especially if they are high performers. They also value privacy over transparency. Increasing your level of pay transparency, even by publishing ranges for every position in your company, will feel like an invasion of privacy to this majority. Pay is personal to them, and they don’t want people speculating about where they’re at in their own job’s salary range. When you increase your level of transparency, they’ll feel sold out. They’ll also blame you.

Still, there are folks - usually those who don't have to deal with the fallout of the employee issues thatWorkplaice_goss result - who call for full and complete transparency. 

To that crew, I think I have your product.  Allow employees to raise their hand if they want to know what some other people make, but in exchange for that, two things happen:

1.  The employees who want salary data on others have to fully disclose their own pay to others who opt into the program, and

2.  Everyone who agrees is immediately thrown into a special group that will be taped as a part of a 10 week reality show.  Each week, one person has their position eliminated as the tribe (those who opted in) decide collectively who adds the least value.

Why didn't I think of this?  It's the perfect solution for those (in the minority in America, btw) who want full transparency but don't understand the consequences. 

What?  Someone's already got the idea for the TV show?   More from Variety:

"Fox has found a way to help struggling small businesses as they downsize in this tough economic climate. Sort of.  The network has picked up the reality competish "Someone's Gotta Go," which enters real businesses across the country and gives employees the power to decide which one of them will be terminated.

Endemol USA is behind the show, which is already in production -- and could be on the air by late summer or early fall.

"It's 'Survivor' meets 'The Office,'" said Fox reality chief Mike Darnell, never shy when it comes to provocative series ideas. "When someone is arbitrarily let go the first reaction usually is 'How come that person was fired when another idiot is still here?' This finally gives employees a chance to make that decision instead of a boss."

Fox and Endemol are keeping some aspects of the show under wraps, but here's what's known: Each episode will revolve around a different small business -- usually one with 15-20 employees -- that has been forced to make staff reductions because of the sour economy.

The company's books will be opened up to the employees, who will learn what everyone makes and what's in their human resources files. Employees will also get a chance to say, face to face, what they really think of one another.

Ultimately, the employees will vote on who should be terminated. That person will likely receive a small severance, but that's it.

The concept for "Someone's Gotta Go" came about after Darnell saw a TV news report on a business owner who had been struggling -- and decided to disclose to her employees what they all earned. That sparked a discussion among those employees on who was earning too much and how to cut costs."

It's shocking that real companies and real employees would sign the waiver required, yet perfect when viewed in the context of pay transparency.  The moral?  The wisdom of the crowd will undoubtedly focus on someone the pack views as overpaid without context to what that person does for the company in question.

Alliances will be formed, and over a short period of time (10 minutes? 20 minutes?), people will go into self-preservation mode.  The end result will have little to do with reality in a business context and everything to do with the pack.

Rome was the mob.  So is the workplace when it comes to pay transparency.

I gotta get some concepts from the workplace together for my own reality TV show.  Maybe one with nothing but HR folks.  Check that - probably not racy enough...


Bohdan Rohbock

If the majority is silent then how do you know they exist. That's just assuming everyone who doesn't say anything is like you. Depending on how you spin it many people could go either way.

I do like the idea of an opt-in program as you described. Good test waters and it filters out those who are merely busybodies.

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