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Millennials keep breaking this very old work-related taboo

But it's definitely a good thing

Millennials keep breaking this very old work-related taboo
Tom Victor
02 January 2018

Have you told friends and family how much you’re being paid for your job?

Perhaps you’ve always seen it as private information, keeping it to yourself unless specifically asked. Maybe you’ve continued to keep it private even after being asked.

We found out last year how much Gary Lineker and other BBC regulars make in a year, while others in the public eye will often see their salaries leaked, but those who have a lower profile have previously seen no reason to make the private public.

Even now, it’s not uncommon to keep schtum about how much you take home, but we’re starting to see more and more people opening up about it, and even comparing their pay packets with others.

This trend among millennials isn’t a bragging thing, however. There are other reasons why the younger generation is more open about how much they earn.

Millennials are much more likely than baby boomers to divulge their salary to friends and family

According to a survey from personal finance site The Cashlorette, millennials are more likely than average to share their salary with family and friends, and also more likely to compare their earnings with co-workers.

The figure for sharing with family is 63%, compared to 41% for baby boomers.

When it comes to close friends, those aged 18-36 (48%) are more than twice as likely as those aged 53-71 (21%) to divulge how much they earn.

And, while only 30% of millennials confide in co-workers, this remains significantly higher than the 8% of boomers who have admitted to doing so.

30% of millennials are happy to discuss their earnings with co-workers

As Business Insider notes, studies have shown millennials value transparency and openness, and are also more inclined to work together than they are to compete in all facets of their day-to-day life.

This is reflected in a willingness to compare earnings with their peers, with a sense that folks would feel uncomfortable if they’re making more for the same job while holding the same qualifications.

It cites a link between fairness and workplaces regarded as having high job satisfaction levels, as well as a readiness to collaborate both inside and outside the workplace.

Transparency is also valued in the workplace, which is perhaps reflected in a willingness to bring the same desire for lingering questions to be answered into the non-work world.

Millennials are almost twice as likely to share how much they earn

For some, the motivation comes from not being too sure whether you’re being paid what you deserve for your work.

It makes sense for younger people to be less sure about their value in the workplace, seeing as they tend to have less experience, so we get why folks would raise the subject with a family member – especially a parent, who ought to have more knowledge when it comes to salaries.

As for sharing with friends, those who responded to the survey suggested they would only take that approach with pals who they know earn a similar amount to them. Again, a fear of undercutting themselves is a big motivation, and that’s not always a conversation you can have with those earning significantly more or less than you.

How much?!

As for speaking to co-workers, there are some obvious perks and downsides to being more open about your earnings.

With knowledge growing when it comes to gender pay gaps at some workplaces, many are inclined to quietly test the water on that front by speaking to colleagues who do the same job as them.

It can often be the case that two people with the same responsibilities make noticeably different amounts, and a lot of the time the only way to find out is through private conversations.

However, if you find out you’re earning less than a colleague, the benefit of knowing you should be paid more can be outweighed by the inability to know how to go about asking for higher pay, while finding out you earn more than someone else on your desk can bring with it a feeling of guilt.

It’s doesn’t (and sometimes shouldn’t) end with that one conversation about salaries, then: sometimes it’s part of a much longer discussion.

(Images: Jonathan Velasquez/Marius Ciocirlan/iStock)