The Secret’s out!

Every now and then, contemporary social trends catch up with our institutional practices and we realize that “keeping up” is hard to do.  One example of such “catch-up” deals with compensation.  TLI frequently receives inquiries about compensation from transplant practitioners and professionals. Usually this information is used to advocate for more compensation.
In transplant, it is especially important to keep up with national practices since there is movement among professionals nationally. Hospitals should take care to compare their compensation with other programs locally and across the nation.

One aspect of compensation that is truly local is one’s own workplace. In the past, the topic of compensation was considered “off limits”. As with other areas of personal lives, one might well be curious but it was considered rude to ask.  At least, it has traditionally been an “off limits” topic of discussion among friends and co-workers.  In fact, many employers usually prohibit employees from disclosing compensation, often at the risk of losing their job.  These organizations may not realize that the National Labor Relations Act makes it an unfair labor practice for an employer to deny or limit the rights of employees to discuss their terms and conditions of employment with each other.

The tradition of secrecy about compensation would likely come as a surprise to many employees, especially younger ones.
Employees born in the 1990’s and 1980’s-the so-called Millennials bring to the workplace an expectancy of transparency and self-disclosure fostered by their long experience with social media and other contemporary ways for sharing. This openness counters the wish of an organization committed to conceal their compensation systems, especially if those systems are flawed or even discriminatory. While compensation systems are admittedly complex, influenced by labor-market conditions, hospital policies and individual employees’ performance and turnover risk, transparency is clearly the antidote to the problems caused by the widespread sharing of information that employers still think is confidential.  Transparency can promote internal harmony through recognition that people are paid fairly and it should reduce discrimination based on gender or other characteristics.  At least, salary ranges should be shared widely within an organization.  It is probably best for HR and Legal to consider reviewing their policies on confidentiality so that they comply with the law, comply with organizational needs and respect the cultural expectations of all employees today.

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