Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Show Me Your Money!


   I’ve just been watching a Channel 4 programme on pay transparency: Show Me Your Money.  This is a semi-live blog so apologies if it’s a bit hard to read through….

The programme features Pimlico Plumbers which has recently asked all its employees to be open about their pay, so that the best paid (tradesmen can earn over £100k/year) can support pay rises for the least (most of the staff at HQ are on a lot less).  [Actually the boss draws £1m per year, so couldn’t he just put his hands in his pocket???]

The programme isn’t proving to be as informative as I had hoped – firstly the company didn’t actually need people to publish their own salaries, they just needed better clarity on the company’s reward policies (eg that they have pay bands for most of their jobs – not everyone will get paid the same – you don’t need pay transparency to do this).

Plus the process of providing the transparency – people writing their figures on cards and putting it up on a board – hasn’t really been very well thought through either.

We also haven’t see anything about an HR person either – so perhaps this is why the company didn’t get as much out of this process as they could.  Ah, whoops, we’ve just been introduced to Don/Dom?, the HR Manager.  Oh dear, that’s not been helpful.

We’re now onto an additional process where people are being asked to suggest the pay increases they deserve – totalling £189k.  OK, this may work in some organisations eg Semco’s Up and Down pay – but they have a culture which supports this and provide people the information they need to provide reasonable inputs.  This lot simply don’t have a clue.

Dom’s back – would he be willing to give up some of his £40k?  No.  (But I don’t think he deserves it – Dom, Dom, Dom!!!!)

This bit’s quite interesting though – some of their employees talking about why some of them are being paid so much more than others, and the benefits which might result if revenues were distributed a bit more fairly.  The highly paid employees aren’t being co-operative though: “she ain’t a charity, she’s got a f***** job”.

Again, you need the right culture for this to work – one in which people to desire to support each other, and understand the mutual benefits that could result if they did.  There’s no understanding of this at all here.

I suspect things are going to turn out right in the end – but that’ll only because they’re on the telly and the boss’ back hander.  But I’m tuning off early.  Not that great a show unfortunately, and not that great an organisation either – certainly not one that should be playing with difficult HR practices like this.

So if you want to learn more about pay transparency, my advice would be to ignore the repeat and check out these posts / comments instead:



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  1. Oh dear-this program sounds like a mess! Revealing employee compensation without a strategy can be devastating to employee morale. Furthermore, this is barely the definition of "transparency." Perhaps opening the floodgates for employee feuds wasn't the best idea for Pimlico Plumbers. -JMM


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