Wage or salary discussions in the workplace can seem daunting at first, especially since the topic of money can feel like the elephant in the conference room. At some companies, employee wages are common knowledge as workplaces build towards a transparent culture. Regardless of culture, discussing money at work in an appropriate capacity doesn’t have to be intimidating, especially if you gauge your coworkers comfort with the subject properly.
First and foremost, it’s crucial to read the room before diving into discussions about money in a professional setting. Ideally, its best to save these conversations for break times instead of an important meeting or an introduction of a new employee to the team. Discussions of salary right off the bat can reflect poorly on company culture and values.
Some questions to ask yourself before jumping into the hard-hitting subjects include:
- How appropriate is it to discuss salaries at this time?
- Would anyone experience discomfort if I brought up wages?
- Is this a casual, organic conversation or does it feel forced and intrusive?
Keeping these queries in mind before talking about money at work can reduce discomfort and judgement from other employees.
Another important aspect of talking about money at work is knowing your rights: it’s completely legal to discuss your salary or wages with your coworkers thanks to the National Labor Relations Act. Also known as The Wagner Act, the legislation states that employers cannot ban workplace discussion of salary or wages. However, some states do have pay secrecy laws so it’s important to be aware of what your state allows.
Pay is a personal topic, so it’s best discussed privately with one or two individuals at a time. For conversations regarding your personal salary, it’s best to schedule a private meeting with your employer. This can cover a variety of subjects such as asking for a raise, promotion or even a reimbursement for workplace purchases. Money doesn’t have to be an off-limits topic at work; it should simply be approached tactfully. When in doubt, your human resources department is a great place to ask questions about what’s considered appropriate to discuss in the workplace and how to approach such a conversation.
Conversations about money at the workplace have grown increasingly important, whether you’re saving it for a rainy day or for a relaxing vacation, making sure your workplace is a safe space for appropriate conversations is an absolute must.