My company recently switched to an online HR system where we have to print out our own direct deposit statements. I don't like having to do this, as I have always been very protective of my privacy when it comes to my salary. This may seem a bit odd given how open I am on this blog, but that's because I can be anonymous. In "real life" I definitely don't want my co-workers knowing my business!
Our paystubs used to be distributed by one of the assistants in the office-- usually if you weren't at your desk, they'd just hold onto it, but once or twice I came back to find it left on my chair or tucked half under my keyboard. It drove me nuts that someone could just snatch it and have a lot of personal information about me. Once I had my paystub in my possession, I would always stash it away in my bag unopened. That was a tip from one of my first bosses, and I've never forgotten it. Maybe it was more pertinent back when we worked in a store where everyone's bags were all on the same shelf in the stockroom and it was a bigger deal if a clerk making $5.75 an hour found out the manager made $30,000, but I still follow that advice to this day-- I don't peek at my paystub until I'm home.
So now, it bugs me that since the printer is down the hall from my office, I have to poke my head out, see if anyone is in the middle of a big print job, and then, if the coast is clear, hit PRINT on my computer and then run down the hall to the printer to make sure no one grabs my pay statement before I do! (I should mention that I don't have a printer at home, and wouldn't bother to spend money on one just for this!)
So I wonder, why is it that I don't want someone to see my paystub? There's the usual social taboo about revealing one's salary. There's the fact that I have people who report to me, and it just doesn't seem right to have them know how much more I make. But honestly, one of the reasons I worry about it is just personal embarrassment. I worry that some of the people who might see it would think I was underpaid for what I do, and that I'd look like a chump who'd never played her cards right, and perhaps I sort of am. Either that, or they'd think I'm overpaid, and wonder how such a useless twit gets away with doing so little for so much. Somehow, I'd be less embarrassed about that! They might not like me but they'd at least think I was a good negotiator. Especially since the possibility of me having seduced my current boss is pretty much nil, so they wouldn't think I was just some manipulative ho. Interesting value scale, isn't it?
- Bad: being seen as lazy and useless but able to fool someone into paying me well.
- Worse: being seen as a manipulative ho.
- Worst: being seen as a wimp who lets herself be underpaid.
For the most part, in judging my salary against everyone else's, things seemed pretty much fair. But there were two guys who seemed wildly overpaid in comparison to everyone else. One of them was routinely ridiculed for spending a little too much time reading the newspaper with his feet up on his desk, and I'd already heard some gossip about him being overpaid. (Bad: lazy but fooled someone into paying him well.) The other guy had just gotten a promotion to become my new boss, so I now knew he was even more overpaid, and I wasn't too happy about working for him for other reasons that had nothing to do with money. (Probably because I suspected he was both useless AND a manipulative ho.) So that just felt kind of icky.
So despite my belief that financial openness is a very good thing, I do think there are times when it's best not to know how much people make. Anyone else have any stories about deliberate or inadvertent snooping into the salaries of others?