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Is Discussing Salaries With Co-Workers a Good Idea?

Unlike with previous generations, young adults find it freeing to talk about their personal finances.
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Financial Transparency

Salary Discussion is No Longer Taboo

The Wall Street Journal reports How Much Money Do Millennials Make? It’s No Longer a Taboo Question.

A 2019 survey by found that 61% of millennials were comfortable discussing credit-card debt with their friends, compared with 43% of baby boomers. And a March report from Swedish fintech company Klarna said a recent global survey found that 50% of millennials believe it is important to talk openly about finances, compared with 41% of older generations.

Bailey Koch, 25, recently left her job at the Minnesota State Senate after having a conversation with her co-workers about their respective salaries. She was part of a three-person team where each person had the same job title when she learned that the most recent hire was making more money than she did.

Knowledge is Power

Q: Whose Interest Is It to Keep Wages Secret?
A: The company's of course.

That's what it comes down to. Companies do not want you to know who is underpaid or overpaid.

Ms. Koch ended up quitting when her salary increase was denied.

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If someone is making more than you for doing less work, instead of being annoyed at your co-worker, you should be grateful for the knowledge. 

But if you ask or find out how much co-workers make, you have to be able to deal with the information.

As long as you can deal with the information no matter what it is, you are better off knowing and discussing.

Six Ways to Evaluate Your Job

  1. Do you like what you are doing?
  2. Do you like your co-workers?
  3. Do you like your boss? 
  4. Are you OK with your commute?
  5. Are you OK with your career path?
  6. Are you OK with your salary?

If you are not happy with any of those you should be out as soon as you can find something else. 

You may like what you are doing and how much you are paid, but bad co-workers, a bad boss, and a long commute can make one miserable. 

If you are happy with all but number 6 you might want to think carefully about quitting just for more money.