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Tech Startup Buffer Publishes Every Employee's Salary, Right Up To the CEO

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the ok-but-what-about-their-coffee-consumption? dept.

The Almighty Buck 229

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Paul Szoldra reports at Business Insider that Joel Gascoigne, CEO of social media startup Buffer, reveals his salary along with the salary of every single employee in the company, and includes the formula the company uses to get to each one. "One of the highest values we have at Buffer is transparency," says Gascoigne. "We do quite a number of things internally and externally in line with this value. Transparency breeds trust, and that's one of the key reasons for us to place such a high importance on it." Gascoigne, who has a salary of $158,800, revealed the exact formula Buffer uses to get to each employee's number: Salary = job type X seniority X experience + location (+ $10K if salary choice). Gascoigne says his open salary system is part of Buffer's "Default to Transparency" and says Buffer is willing to update the formula as the company grows but hopes that its focus on work/life balance fosters employees that are in it for the long haul. "In Silicon Valley, there's a culture of people jumping from one place to the next," says Gascoigne. "That's why we focus on culture. Doing it this way means we can grow just as fast—if not faster—than doing it the 'normal' cutthroat way. We're putting oil into the engine to make sure everything can work smoothly so we can just shoot ahead and that's what we're starting to see.""

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229 comments

Hmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45811091)

Sounds like something they'd do to placate "dumb money" angel investors

It's more like a stunt to me (5, Insightful)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about 7 months ago | (#45811135)

Sounds like something they'd do to placate "dumb money" angel investors

I do invest in startups and most of the angel investors that I know are not dumb.

That guy is running a publicity stunt.

Transparency can only work up to a point before jealousy creeps in.

There is no way to run an organization with 100% transparency - people will start comparing each others' workload (and/or contribution) with the salary figure.

The art of managing is an ART and it's a very delicate task.

Re:It's more like a stunt to me (4, Informative)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 7 months ago | (#45811221)

Most US states make available public employee salaries, and have been for quite some time. For example: http://seethroughny.net/ [seethroughny.net]

The government may not be run like a business, but when you're talking in micro terms of coworkers knowing the salaries of the people they work with, it's very similar.

Re:It's more like a stunt to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45811265)

And peoples also complain all the time about public worker been lazy or over paid.

Re:It's more like a stunt to me (2)

WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) | about 7 months ago | (#45811477)

Now they can do this with armed with evidence. Or not. People aren't machines created to adjudicate based on evidence. For those who are interested in doing so however, it's there to support or refute their arguments. This is a good thing since *there is no other working alternative to deciding things on a rational basis*.

Re:It's more like a stunt to me (5, Informative)

penix1 (722987) | about 7 months ago | (#45811543)

Disclaimer: I am a state employee whose salary is publicly posted...

That out of the way, most if not all those salaries posted are very, very misleading. It is gross salary+travel+incentives+any other state money that employee has received including payments made for health coverage and retirement. It doesn't include any deductions such as taxes, co-payments for health and retirement, garnishments, etc...

Re:It's more like a stunt to me (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45811613)

I am a state employee

If you work for the state, then you are by defenition incompetent at your job and a leach on the taxpayer. This makes anything else you say useless since you have no idea what you are talking about.

Re:It's more like a stunt to me (2)

NormalVisual (565491) | about 7 months ago | (#45812175)

then you are by defenition incompetent at your job

You can't make this stuff up, folks.

Re:It's more like a stunt to me (1)

WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) | about 7 months ago | (#45811699)

The cure for a lack of sunshine is more and better sunshine

Re:It's more like a stunt to me (1)

matthewv789 (1803086) | about 7 months ago | (#45812181)

So? Neither do any other salary figures you see anywhere. Did you think private-sector salaries you hear about were after taxes and health insurance and 401k deductions? Seriously, sometimes the paycheck amount is literally only 50% of the total salary "paid" during that pay period.

Re:It's more like a stunt to me (2)

TheloniousToady (3343045) | about 7 months ago | (#45811669)

Agreed. Don't public employees get pay raises based on objective criteria such as education, tenure, competency test scores, etc.? If so, that might reduce the jealousy factor, but it also excludes consideration of how much one produces, which is inherently subjective. I don't know if this startup is contemplating that sort of thing, but if so, it doesn't sound like a good idea for a startup. Imagine a bunch of startup employees just putting in their time until they get tenure. Doesn't compute.

Re: It's more like a stunt to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45811759)

You might be overlooking the part a potential future buyout plays as an incentive.

Re:It's more like a stunt to me (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45811311)

Transparency worked pretty well back in the 50's when most jobs were unionized. Everyone knew what everyone else was paid and everyone worked their fair share because the company wasn't focused solely on posting record profits.

People need leadership, not management. That's a distinction this generation has no concept of as it fell out of fashion back in the 80's. You manage boxes and machines, but you lead people.

Re:It's more like a stunt to me (4, Insightful)

XcepticZP (1331217) | about 7 months ago | (#45812037)

I call bullshit on this. Union membership was never "most" or a majority of the population. The highest it has ever been in the US was in the 50's when it was in the low 30s% range, and has been declining steadily ever since. Probably as a consequence of people realizing that unions have done all they can for worker rights, and all they're interested in now is keeping their power/income at the expense of workers' and the companies both. I didn't even have to look hard for this stat, as it's already on Wikipedia here [wikipedia.org] .

From what I've heard union members negotiate salaries based on seniority, and not on any sort of merit. It may bring security/assurance to a lot of people, but it does not distribute fairly according to effort/skill.

Re:It's more like a stunt to me (5, Informative)

Baron_Yam (643147) | about 7 months ago | (#45811313)

I work in a unionized environment. All wages are in contractual 'bands', every job is evaluated and placed in an appropriate band based on required skill, risk, shift, education, etc.

This means that, within the band, we all know each other's pay if we bother to look up a job classification and leaf through to the most recent contract's appendix.

We all seem to continue working without being at each other's throats.

Re:It's more like a stunt to me (5, Interesting)

WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) | about 7 months ago | (#45811357)

I think transparency is intended to forestall the structural imbalances which create jealousy in the first place.

Re:It's more like a stunt to me (5, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 7 months ago | (#45811665)

There is no way to run an organization with 100% transparency - people will start comparing each others' workload (and/or contribution) with the salary figure.

And that is bad because...?

The art of managing is an ART and it's a very delicate task.

And if you don't believe that, just ask a manager. His work is an ART and it's very delicate and that's why he's entitled to 500 times the salary of someone who works for a living. If you ask, he'll even write a book about his ART and the great delicacy and importance of his work and why he needs to get grandly compensated if he fails and gets fired.

Re:It's more like a stunt to me (3, Interesting)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | about 7 months ago | (#45812165)

If managers were paid that well anywhere I worked, I'd be inclined to get promoted! Mostly they make my salary with a little bit of extra "bonus" %. You know that bonus all employees get for good performance that is microscopically impacted by any individual working hard, but significantly impacted by the CEO being a moron.

For 500 times my pay you're looking at some CxO. I'd take their jobs too but my father, mother, uncle, cousin, best friend('s roomate) are all poor nobodies, so short of blackmailing someone on the board there's no reasonable way to reach those heights. Plus, I'd have to start taking responsibility for investor's greed, which I could never bring myself to do.

Re:It's more like a stunt to me (1)

buddyglass (925859) | about 7 months ago | (#45812045)

That comparison already happens, only people make up the numbers in their heads. If my team lead is a shmuck then his being a shmuck is doubly irritating because I assume he's making way more than I am. In Buffer's model I know exactly how much more than me he is or isn't making. It seems like, from a psychological perspective, the formula is the key. You can be sure nobody is making more than his or her raw "stats" dictate. Nobody is being compensated at an "especially" high level because of perceived (yet illusory) productivity.

What I see as the downside of this system is the incentives it creates. For one, if you're someone who's highly talented and productive yet don't have a lot of experience you're not going to want to work at Buffer because your lack of experience will have a direct, negative impact on your salary. You'd be better off at another company that at least attempts to tie salary to productivity. The fact that buffer's formula includes seniority also means you can have two employees with the exact same job, experience and productivity, and one will make more than the other purely because he's been with the company longer. That might piss some people off. On the one hand it motivates current employees to stay with the company because they know they're in line for automatic raises. On the other hand, it creates an incentive for Buffer to lay off employees with seniority when they can be replaced by equally productive new employees that are "cheaper" by virtue of their lack of seniority.

Re:It's more like a stunt to me (4, Informative)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about 7 months ago | (#45812071)

In the military, everyone knows down to the penny how much everyone else makes, or at least can figure it out easily enough. You look at their rank, their time in service, and various other factors such as their current assignment, whether they live on or off base, are married or single, etc., and the number is right there. And the reward for productivity is promotion, which leads to a higher salary. This never led to any problems that I saw; and while there are plenty of aspects of civilian life I like better than being in uniform, this isn't one of them.

Re:It's more like a stunt to me (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45812079)

Unions have been doing this for 100 years. Every single person knows exactly what each other makes along with the general public along with what people a different company doing the same thing make down to the penny, and when they will get a raise and sees what each other does on a daily basis. There is NO secrecy at that level at all. I'm not saying it is good or bad, just pointing that out.

Re:It's more like a stunt to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45812259)

I do invest in startups and most of the angel investors that I know are not dumb.

they're probablly not. but in my experience, you wouldn't know it from how they run companies. up to and including not knowing the financials of the companies they're investing in.

Re:It's more like a stunt to me (2)

Nyder (754090) | about 7 months ago | (#45812283)

Sounds like something they'd do to placate "dumb money" angel investors

I do invest in startups and most of the angel investors that I know are not dumb.

That guy is running a publicity stunt.

Transparency can only work up to a point before jealousy creeps in.

There is no way to run an organization with 100% transparency - people will start comparing each others' workload (and/or contribution) with the salary figure.

The art of managing is an ART and it's a very delicate task.

I don't agree. What it does is keep companies from getting over on it's employees. I've found that I was getting paid less then other workers, while having more experience and doing more work. What happened when I complained? I got my pay raised up to what the others were.

I don't know what world you live in, but companies/corporations are about profits only, and they will not only fuck over their employees for profits, but anyone they can.

You sound like you want to fuck over employees so you can get more money for your investments. Makes you scum in my book.

Re:Hmm... (3, Funny)

Desler (1608317) | about 7 months ago | (#45811415)

Especially with this on their front page:

There are currently NaN people using Buffer who have shared 115,681,392 updates through Buffer.

Sounds like some top-notch talent working there!

Re:Hmm... (4, Funny)

lxs (131946) | about 7 months ago | (#45811635)

When asked for clarification, employee number six said:"I am not a number. I am a free man!"

Re:Hmm... (1)

Desler (1608317) | about 7 months ago | (#45811643)

LOL.

Re:Hmm... (1)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | about 7 months ago | (#45812189)

The last time this article was posted, I felt the salaries were awful low compared even to Texas, and it was a job in California. Now perhaps we see that you get what you pay for ;)

Norway (5, Informative)

lxs (131946) | about 7 months ago | (#45811099)

The nation of Norway does this for every citizen. [wikidot.com] It seems to work out for them.

Re:Norway (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45811267)

No it does not work out well for us.

It is a gross violation of privacy and it is being used by criminals.

Re:Norway (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45811349)

Pretty much this.
The tax info has always been public, but you used to have to request the papers in person.
With it available online for a limited amount of time, websites like newspapers then store the information for anyone to look up, any time.

Re:Norway (0)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 7 months ago | (#45811589)

Hmm. If these numbers are relevant for your interaction with the state, does it even make sense to talk about "privacy"? I certainly wouldn't like people to know what I'm doing at home, or what books I read, or the contents of my personal correspondence, but off the top of my head, no reason occurs to me why my taxable interactions with the society shouldn't be that society's matter.

I'd also appreciate if you elaborated on the criminals. That sounds interesting.

Re:Norway (1)

CrankyFool (680025) | about 7 months ago | (#45811895)

I'm not Norwegian, but ...

My income is relevant to society and my interaction with the state for a very specific and narrow purpose -- taxation. So obviously, for taxation purposes, the state should know how much I make. That does not mean, however, that every person in the state should know what I make; I have a general bias toward personal privacy (and state transparency), and I question why, say, my neighbors should know how much I make. I certainly have no interest in knowing how much they make.

As for criminals: Generally speaking, people who make more money have more money, and have more expensive stuff. So if you're going to target a house for burglary, and you have two houses with approximately the same countermeasures, would you not target the house with the higher income? You could argue that if I have a higher income I should have more countermeasures, but this is probably one of those cases where security by obscurity (not flashing money) is at least one of the useful security measures you could use -- and advertising your salary sort of makes that irrelevant.

Re:Norway (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45812059)

I'm not Norwegian, but ...

My income is relevant to society and my interaction with the state for a very specific and narrow purpose -- taxation.

Yeah, you're not Norwegian. In Norway your income is relevant to your interaction with the state for more purposes than it is in the US. For example, traffic tickets carry a fine that is proportional to your income and personal wealth http://www.expatarrivals.com/norway/transport-and-driving-in-norway [expatarrivals.com] .

Think Steve Jobs would have always parked his car in handicap spots if every time he was ticketed he had to pay one month's salary or maybe 1% of his personal wealth? Think those bad boys of Wall Street would behave so badly if the fines for white collar crime were a percentage of their personal wealth instead of a percentage of the profits from just their latest rule violation?

Re:Norway (1)

NormalVisual (565491) | about 7 months ago | (#45812205)

Think those bad boys of Wall Street would behave so badly if the fines for white collar crime were a percentage of their personal wealth instead of a percentage of the profits from just their latest rule violation?

No, they'd just find better ways to hide their money.

Re:Norway (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45812137)

If you want to check how well the state is handling taxation, and checking for potential loopholes, abuses (by either tax payer or the state), and the frequency of such problems, having all of the data in non-aggregate form helps. Especially if there is a situation where the tax agency doesn't look at or record something that people think should be relevant to taxation, knowing who is taxed what could pin down such issues. I'm not saying that such data should be public, but there are potential uses for it and it becomes a question of what has higher priority: privacy versus improving handling of taxes.

I would be curious how often there is a significant change in income that is not visible by simply looking at a person and their dwelling. People with more income may have better stuff, but to some degree, that is externally visible anyway, with a bit of effort equivalent you would need to dig through public records.

Re:Norway (1)

transporter_ii (986545) | about 7 months ago | (#45811671)

Lots of things work for Norway, and lots of other countries, that doesn't work for us. We are abnormal when it comes to the rest of the world. Now that may not always be a bad thing...but normal we are not.

Re:Norway (4, Interesting)

buddyglass (925859) | about 7 months ago | (#45812061)

Neither of those two things ("gross violation of privacy" and "is being used by criminals") necessarily implies that it is not "working out well for you". Perhaps the system creates benefits that (in some peoples' minds) outweigh those two negatives.

Re:Norway (3, Informative)

TyFoN (12980) | about 7 months ago | (#45811813)

This is incredibly stupid. Criminals use it to pick out who to rob, and the news has a feeding frenzy every year where they single out people who actually contributes.

I hope this system will be gone and buried soon along with the whole envy culture that we have in this country with the new government.

Re:Norway (2)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 7 months ago | (#45811907)

This is incredibly stupid.

Indeed. Income was also made public when the income tax was first implemented in America. The goal was to reduce cheating, because it was assumed people would report their full income because they would be ashamed to appear poorer than they actually were. But the opposite occurred. People did NOT want their neighbors and relatives to know the extent of their wealth, because they feared both criminals and leechers requesting "loans". The publicity led to under reporting of income. Unlike the Norwegians, the Americans at least had the sense to abandon a bad idea.

Re:Norway (5, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 7 months ago | (#45811931)

This is incredibly stupid. Criminals use it to pick out who to rob

Perhaps the Norwegians feel it's incredibly stupid to create a culture that creates criminals by promoting wealth inequality.

Re:Norway (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45812063)

This is incredibly stupid. Criminals use it to pick out who to rob

Perhaps the Norwegians feel it's incredibly stupid to create a culture that creates criminals by promoting wealth inequality.

Perhaps your myopic socialist viewpoint is due to your lack of wealth or maybe even laziness. Interestingly, it has been proven over and over, that most people that share such a viewpoint completely abandon it if they achieve wealth.

In any case, it seems rather ludicrous to compare the economic policies of the second least densely populated country in Europe(Norway pop. 5m) with those of a highly successful and envied nation that has a population 60 times greater. New York City alone has a greater population than all of Norway! And, there are several other U.S. cities that are almost as large.

I've been to Norway. It's FANTASTIC! I would have no issue living there, other than the language(Sweet Jesus, WTF?). But, I still much prefer the "terrible inequality" of home.

Re:Norway (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 7 months ago | (#45812087)

In any case, it seems rather ludicrous to compare the economic policies of the second least densely populated country in Europe(Norway pop. 5m) with those of a highly successful and envied nation that has a population 60 times greater.

Well, I'm sitting in that nation, envying the Norwegians.

Re:Norway (1)

TyFoN (12980) | about 7 months ago | (#45812199)

Publicly posting tax information has nothing to do with wealth inequality.
That is the excuse, not the reason. The only ones that need to know your income is the computer systems that is used to calculate taxes.

Fighting wealth equality should happen in policies, not publicly shaming those who work hard and actually contributes to the society.

It is hard to explain to foreigners often, but there is a deep rooted culture of envy that historically have been strong where someone standing out in a positive way is pulled down as hard as possible.
Everyone should be equal, or else.
This is also ingrained in the school system and is one of the reasons we rank so low in the PISA tests.

Fortunately this is starting to go away as people come to their senses and stick to their own business :)
We just elected the first liberal government in many years and I hope they will make the necessary policy changes like removing the public tax information.

Re:Norway (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45812057)

This is incredibly stupid. Criminals use it to pick out who to rob, and the news has a feeding frenzy every year where they single out people who actually contributes.

I hope this system will be gone and buried soon along with the whole envy culture that we have in this country with the new government.

Fellow Norwegian here, this is actually a myth. There isn't any evidence that this ever happened. After populist politicians kept repeating this claim, the police did the research, and came up disproving it completely [p4.no] (Google Translate [google.no] ). Criminals don't need tax info to seek up nice neighborhoods and look for houses to rob.

No respect for employee privacy (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45811103)

No respect for employee privacy, we never discuss salaries of other people here.

Re:No respect for employee privacy (5, Insightful)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 7 months ago | (#45811233)

Is it respect for employee privacy or respect for being able to pay drastically different wages for the same job? A lot of times, company rules (official or unofficial) against discussing salaries protect the employer much more than the employees.

Re:No respect for employee privacy (2)

cellocgw (617879) | about 7 months ago | (#45811399)

A lot of times, company rules (official or unofficial) against discussing salaries protect the employer much more than the employees.

Like my employer, for example (sub-sub-sub-subdivision of UTC). IMHO this rule is the same as the used-car salesman saying "OK, I can cut you this deal but you have to promise not to tell anyone about it." They hope to make each employee think he/she's got a better salary than the folks in the next cube.

One other thought: seniority should be a factor up to a point. Statistics show certain timeframes (e.g. 5 years' employment) at which people are more likely to switch jobs, so offering a seniority-based incentive to stay on at these junctures can help retain desired staff.

Re:No respect for employee privacy (1)

penix1 (722987) | about 7 months ago | (#45811479)

If the job is shit to begin with, no amount of incentive will keep employees very long. Burn-out is one of the biggest problems in employment with the most "productive" individuals getting abused to the point where they either leave or have health issues related to burn-out like heart attacks.

So salary is a very little part of the equation to keeping employees. Treating them like people instead of expensive commodities to be disposed of is another.

Re:No respect for employee privacy (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45811499)

I don't care what others get paid, it is up to me to negociate a salary with my employer.

What other people do I really don't care about, that is their problem not mine.

If i am not happy in what i get paid, or whatever, i look elsewhere.

I certinaly don't tell anybody what I get paid and I never ask what others get paid.

If you want to be nosey into my life, I sure will take it personal and start targeting YOUR LIFE privacy in retiallation.

Re:No respect for employee privacy (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45811881)

I don't care what others get paid, it is up to me to negociate a salary with my employer.

So you're perfectly happy to go into negotiations at a disadvantage, knowing that the employer has relevant information that you don't have?
You sound like a shitty negotiator.

Re:No respect for employee privacy (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45812261)

Keep telling him he's a great negotiator. He'll feel better about himself and someday he might work for you.

Re:No respect for employee privacy (2)

ScentCone (795499) | about 7 months ago | (#45811901)

Is it respect for employee privacy or respect for being able to pay drastically different wages for the same job?

It's recognition that you can have very different expectations and get wildly different results from two people (with different experience, intelligence, work ethics, and ambition) doing the "same job."

Re:No respect for employee privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45811971)

My company wanted to do this (publish everyone's salary), but it was scrapped due to legal reasons and instead the approximate salary level was published only for those who consented (opt-in). In the end, almost 50% of the employees in my office actually consented. I did not, but I was surprised to see that most people I had thought were making more than myself for the same job were actually being paid the exact same salary as myself. We also never discuss salaries coworker-to-coworker normally.

Contribution? (5, Funny)

smileytshirt (988345) | about 7 months ago | (#45811129)

Salary = job type X seniority X experience + location

So I guess productivity and contribution to the business doesn't count. Great. Time to sit back and eat pretzels!

Re:Contribution? (2)

ElementOfDestruction (2024308) | about 7 months ago | (#45811207)

How many pretzels can you buy now that they've curtailed the length of time you can receive unemployment benefits?

Re:Contribution? (3, Interesting)

guises (2423402) | about 7 months ago | (#45811251)

There aren't a lot of careers that link your salary to your productivity. It's usually not possible - how would you suggest doing that for a social media startup? Pay employees by total lines of code written? By smallest number of bugs? These sorts of things have been tried by many companies, but they always seem to create detrimental incentives. If you pay by lines of code then you're telling your employees to use longer, sloppier code. You're also punishing them for helping out around the office in any way that doesn't involve writing code.

The method that has stood the test of time is to hire employees who have a good work ethic and fire those who don't. If all of your employees are helpful, contributing employees, then paying a standard wage isn't a problem.

Re:Contribution? (5, Insightful)

psperl (1704658) | about 7 months ago | (#45811371)

This is not true, especially with software developers. I manage quite a few of them, and it doesn't take long to be able to determine their approximate individual worth, without metrics. Activities outside of writing code are hugely influential to an employee's value, such as educating other team members and communicating with customers or our business sponsors. Obviously I can't pinpoint an exact number, but its obvious as night and day who the real catalysts are within the group, and I can adjust accordingly.

Companies that don't link your wage to your individual abilities are trying to take advantage of you. Plain and simple. I say trying, because one day it'll backfire. The most profitable companies that depend on skilled labor (not Walmart or McDonalds) pay their employees well, and do not use a uniform pay scale.

Re:Contribution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45811449)

No one should want to work for "the most profitable companies" because profit is simply a measure of how much the company is shafting its customers, employees, or suppliers.

Re: Contribution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45811661)

Business isn't a zero sum game. Profit is taken when one company can do the same work as another using less resources. (Working smarter, not harder.)

Re: Contribution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45811911)

Whereby "using less resources" is another way of saying "not paying your employees their value"?

Re: Contribution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45812095)

Business isn't a zero sum game. Profit is taken when one company can do the same work as another using less resources. (Working smarter, not harder.)

If by "smarter" you include social dumping (ala Wallmart and outsourcing to low cost countries), tax evasion schemes like the big multinationals practice or clever brand building to get consumers to pay much more than your product cost to produce vs similar competitors (ala Apple), then yes.

Re:Contribution? (2)

XcepticZP (1331217) | about 7 months ago | (#45812085)

If you don't like it you have options. You can quit if you're an employee. You can not buy their product if you're a customer. You can choose to not do business with them if you're a supplier (good luck on that one, buddy). Or, if you're an investor/stockholder, then you're entirely welcome to sell your shares and get rid of whatever benefit you might get by investing in that company. Life isn't sunshine, rainbows and peaches.

You also forgot to mention the biggest factor of what makes a company profitable, more so than your other petty complaints. A company gains profit by doing something in the market better than it's competitors. It identifies a need no one is servicing, or a new market that no one has anticipated. The great success stories are all around for you to see, AC. Open your eyes, and see it for what it is. Someone had a good idea, and implemented it before you did. No need to bag on them for making a profit out of it because that just sounds like jealousy on your part.

I don't condone any unethical behaviour by a company/manager/corporation. So exploitation doesn't factor into my comments above. Of course there will always be ass holes out there that want to abuse loopholes, use government coercion to get their way, and generally do unethical things. That's not fair game, and they should be called out and punished for whatever damage they do.

Re:Contribution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45812193)

Companies that don't link your wage to your individual abilities are trying to take advantage of you. Plain and simple.

Assuming you're one of the people who could get a higher than average pay, but half of them are after all below average. Personally I'm of a suspicious mind and always wondering if I'm being underpaid because I'm not good enough at making my achievements visible, make demands or negotiate well enough. A visible system like this has a certain appeal, you at least know you're not being paid less than your coworkers. I'm sure you have your perception and is sure it's the right one but as long as individual salaries are linked to that perception you can be sure that there's people working hard to manipulate that perception rather than focusing on the team and the work.

I don't see it exploitation, just a different model. Hire a bunch of average people, remove the incentive to compete among themselves and see if they can pull as a team. Weed out those who can't. It's not going to be a stellar team, but I think you can get a "slow and steady" team that produces decent workhorse code to support a business. You can also tweak the system somewhat by having titles which are really different levels of skill like Senior Developer, you'll get an experience bonus as developer too but you must be explicitly promoted to get the new title and pay grade. Of course then people chase promotions, not pay raises but the point isn't to curb ambition, just counterproductive in-fighting.

Re:Contribution? (1)

buddyglass (925859) | about 7 months ago | (#45812101)

how would you suggest doing that for a social media startup? Pay employees by total lines of code written?

Employee B frequently misses deadlines based on his own scoping of the task. Employee A rarely does.

Employee B's code is frequently the cause of serious production bugs. Employee A's code rarely is.

Employee A often suggests solutions in technical meetings that are superior to what was currently being discussed. Employee B rarely does.

Employee A is capable of quickly diagnosing and repairing code defects with little assistance. Employee B is rarely able to do this.

It takes Employee A one week to implement code that performs a certain task. It takes Employee B two weeks to implement code that performs a nearly identical task.

etc..

Re:Contribution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45811255)

Rewarding productivity is impossible to get right.

You either reward the ones that produce the most lines of code, usually of very poor quality, or you reward those that fuck around all day and just happen to be working when you pop your head into the office.

Rewarding productivity sounds nice, but implementing it always leads to productivity losses. The workerbees that companies depend on do not engage in office politics and ultimately feel shafted when the guy that drinks on the job, surfs porn and takes 2 hour lunches gets a pay raise just because he produces more lines of code than anyone else. Incidentally the employees that fix his code get shafted because they are not "producing" anything and therefore get no raise.

Rewarding productivity leads to gaming the system which only fucks over quality employees to benefit cheaters.

no mention of variable comp (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45811379)

I assume this is BASE salary that is public and merit/performance based bonuses/equity are issued in private. Without some variation in comp or more money, no one is going to a valley company where the CEO only gets 158k and they can expect less

Re:Contribution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45811835)

Looks like a great way to reward slow and lazy people. I know lots of people who would love such a job.

Here's my proposed algorithm. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45811131)

Salary = identical for everyone.

The best world is one where everybody works voluntarily, doing what they want, and finding the challenges which suit them.

I am confident that humanity will eventually reach that point, once we've shaken off the religious legacy that is "Protestant work ethic", which just means people at the bottom misled into feeling proud about working hard (work macht frei, dontcha know?) while most of those at the top buy more yachts.

Re:Here's my proposed algorithm. (2)

ganjadude (952775) | about 7 months ago | (#45811181)

I believe salary = the most I can get for the work I produce.

Re:Here's my proposed algorithm. (2, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | about 7 months ago | (#45811321)

Sure, but first you have to invent the Star Trek replicator and holodeck. At a price that everybody can afford.

Re:Star Trek replicator (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | about 7 months ago | (#45811663)

The Replicator is partially here, for Digital Entertainment. And look at the fight to the death for it!

We can forgive T.O.S. for a lot of things being the first, and "being far enough back" they had a lot of ground to break and computers were 3rd generation ENIACS with better hardware. But it's interesting that Next Generation takes place in an updated time (including the early 90's) when enough of the early future of computing was clear enough ... ... and they still missed the Digital Rights theme. (Or else were told by the studios not to feature it!!)

Meanwhile, we're half way there on the physical printing side. "Everything is a file", and you become limited only by the "quality" of your "Replicator". The early days, all they could do is fill cheap plastic molds so you could make toy models and stuff. But slowly the surprises are coming.

Porsche Provides 3D Printer Blueprints for Scale Model Cayman
http://wot.motortrend.com/1312_porsche_provides_3d_printer_blueprints_for_scale_model_cayman.html [motortrend.com]

As a "Scale Model", that kind of thing could be an immense help for people like Indie Film-makers. Because a big limiting factor is props. Let's presuming the model car doors open, and you can get inside. Then it's 1982 Atari all over again, and you can just add CGI to the Windshield area to look like you are driving somewhere in your Porsche. Then you get out and go back to your film.

Or, as the homage itself, ... just print the props for a SciFi show!

So it's coming.

Re:Here's my proposed algorithm. (3, Funny)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | about 7 months ago | (#45811517)

OK, if you're the first to agree to clean out the sewage backup after the regular crew all left to be bartenders at Hooters.

Re:Here's my proposed algorithm. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45811803)

I prefer to design the robots that do that sort of thing. ;)

FWIW I'm fine with giving the jobless enough wealth to live reasonably comfortably, assuming the country can afford it. However in order for that to be sustainable I believe people should have their reproductive rights restricted. For example if you are jobless and living off the state the number of children you can have depends on how well the country is doing and forecasted to do, and what existing infra there is. Unless of course you can find certified sponsors for your future children. If you are not jobless, you get to have more children based on how well the country is doing and your extra income (and also sponsors).

This is evil, but I feel it is a lesser evil than the alternatives -
a) an uncivilized country where many people live in terrible conditions, some resorting to committing crime - which results in everyone else paying one way or another (as direct victims of crime, increased insurance/security costs and also prison costs if the criminals are caught). Not everyone suffers/dies quietly and peacefully.
b) a country which tries to support the jobless and as many children they can produce, with a risk of breeding an exponentially growing state-supported population after a number of generations (you'd be selecting for those who breed indiscriminately). This is not sustainable.

Double Edged Sword (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45811141)

In some jurisdictions, salaries are considered private information and governed by privacy laws which deal with such information. Guess not in that jurisdiction? Must make it harder to bargain with other companies when moving on.

Doomed to fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45811145)

People expect privacy.

What about the other stuff? (5, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | about 7 months ago | (#45811159)

Do they also list the stock ownership ,stock options and bonuses of every employee too?

No snark, genuinely interested in how far transparency goes and how far it has to go before transparency is actually achieved.

And what is the goal?

I know some people that do the work of 4 of their colleagues, would it be wrong to pay them 4x more? Afterall, the company still saves on healthcare, parking spaces, and other redundant costs. What a person is worth is not always reducable to a position.

Re:What about the other stuff? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45812387)

I know some people that do the work of 4 of their colleagues, would it be wrong to pay them 4x more?

This sounds ridiculous, but it is the central basis of merit pay. What, exactly, do you mean when you say one person does as much work as four colleagues? How do you count? Is their output of equivalent quality? The problems of equivalent difficulty?

If there really are individuals of such exceptional talent, surely they will be recognized and promoted to a job worthy of such talent.

LOL (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45811195)

>>social media startup

*groan* Anyone else joyously awaiting when this bubble pops and all these paper millionaire/billionaire social media people lose all their worth?

Happyness hero? (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | about 7 months ago | (#45811273)

Spending over $300k/yr on whatever the hell these people do. I wonder what they add to the bottom line (surely a better basis for calculating rewards).

Re:Happyness hero? (1)

Njovich (553857) | about 7 months ago | (#45811319)

He runs the secret canabis lab.

Re:Happyness hero? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45811335)

I don't know either, but I'd guess a happiness hero would be called tech support at another company. Their goal could be to make unhappy users into happy users.

Meh.... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 7 months ago | (#45811339)

Seniority is not always a good reason to give someone more money. There are new guys out there that can show up at the job and be 2X as effective as the guy that has held the position for 5+ years. And this assumes that the CEO is an honest guy and gives out raises every 6 months for cost of living.

Dishonest companies do not do the Cost of living increases.

Re:Meh.... (2)

rcs1000 (462363) | about 7 months ago | (#45811465)

While that's true, firms want to encourage employees (by and large) to stick around. Therefore making it attractive financially, in terms of some seniority element, is economically sensible.

Re:Meh.... (2, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | about 7 months ago | (#45811593)

I have not seen this for over a decade. Almost every job change I make, I will come in at a salary that is equal to or higher than the guy that has been there for 10 years.
This might have been a reality in a distant past when management actually cared about employees and wanted them to stick around, but I noticed in the past 10 that most only care about the next quarter profits and to hell with anything else. I watched my company recently let a very good person walk out the door to a competitor because they would not give him a piddly 10% increase.

I really hope that companies come back to having real leadership, but I highly doubt it will happen in my lifetime.

Bonuses and pay raises? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45811353)

So if I read this right then it doesn't allow for pay raises.
Why not?
Because pay raises are generally based on individual performance and change over time and thus do not fit into a formula per se.
Which could also mean that nobody at this company will ever get a pay raise.
Not a place I want to work.

Oh, so why is this important?
In 2 years time, when 2 or more annual performance reviews have been undertaken and thus at leas 2 opportunities for pay raises has passed then numbers will start to move and people aren't always happy with all that this would entail.

Short sighted maneuver. I'd never work here for the simple fact that I don't want my collegues judging me in part or in full by how much I do or do not get paid as that's not their role and with this information they will.

Re:Bonuses and pay raises? (1)

buddyglass (925859) | about 7 months ago | (#45812109)

If seniority is part of the formula then that should create an automatic yearly pay raise.

surprised salaries are this low (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45811377)

I know they are a startup and are all hoping for a big equity payoff, but I'm still surprised the salaries are as low as they are. I can't imagine any senior engineer in CA making less than 100k. Most I know make above 150k in the bay area even at startups. The risk they take at startups is unemployment in a few years if it doesn't get bought out by a big name.

Happiness Hero! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45811407)

Happiness Hero earns $76,000
Happiness Hero == Tech Support/Customer Service. At a social media startup?

This startup will burn up and disappear before Q3 2014. "I guarantee it." (TM)

Standard stuff for public employees (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45811413)

I work for a state government agency. Every employee's salary is public knowledge -- anyone can request the salary information of any employee under the public information laws. In fact, a newspaper in one of the large cities within my state did exactly that for every single employee, and put the information on the web so people could search through it -- yes, down to the individual employee level.

There's nothing wrong with this IMHO; the taxpayers are our bosses, and they deserve to know what their employees are getting paid.

What's funny is that within the agency, there was still the attitude among the management that systems (particularly databases) had to be designed so that no employee could look up the salary of any other employee (except for HR staff, and managers could see their direct reports). We in IT kept telling them this was public info, so trying to "hide" it was silly, but they just didn't get it. Finally in a meeting I got so frustrated, that I went over to the PC hooked up to the room's projector, fired it up, went out to the newspaper's website, and started bringing up the salary info (from the previous fiscal year) of the people in the room at the time. Then they got it.

Re:Standard stuff for public employees (1)

ledow (319597) | about 7 months ago | (#45811697)

I fear that in the EU, this would fall foul of Data Protection laws the second a piece of personal information is linkable to a person (so as soon as you know how much *I* earn, or could tell from the data, you have to have my personal permission in order to make that information public).

I think this is a quite reasonable, however - salary information is not something you want published down to the individual. Though I'm not one of those annoying people who dare not even tell their friends how much they earn, I see no reason for anyone else to know what I earn unless I tell them (pretty much - if you work with me and ask me, I will tell you). The people who need to know - my employers, the tax office, anyone with a valid legal reason who can go to a court, etc. - will know anyway. Those who don't, won't.

It's perfectly adequate for a company or organisation to have to tell how much they spend on salaries in total and, in a quick averaging using the number of full time employees, you can work out whether people are being vastly overpaid or failing to comply with minimum-wage obligations. You can't lower the average without cutting the outliers from earning lots more than the average, so there's no way to "hide" a large executive salary among thousands of workers being paid next-to-nothing.

The problem with publishing salary data is really this: I might earn more than you, and do the same job. The reason I might earn more might just be because I negotiated more, or I was more highly desired for the role at the time of employment, or I'm perceived as better skilled/experienced in the role offered - and if I negotiated a better deal, that's my business, not yours. This is why job adverts very rarely state an absolute salary that can never be negotiated on. If you have any sense, you won't sign the contract without at least trying to push it past the middle of the advertised salary range.

Historically, I've been paid more than my colleagues around me, for the same roles. That's my business. And I've helped some of them earn more by teaching them how to negotiate themselves (my girlfriend got several thousand pounds more a year by the simple precept of coming home with a contract to sign - not signing it there and then - asking me first, and then me telling her not to sign until she had it on paper that the pay was several thousand pounds more. She was scared shitless about doing so, found it very disturbing and "unnatural" for her normal polite self. But they barely said a word, printed out a new contract there-and-then for more money, she signed that instead, hey presto - free money for doing nothing! It's almost as if they EXPECT some people to ask for more...).

Many people are stupid and will just say "Yeah, great, fine" if a reasonable salary is offered at the start and then live with that for the rest of their lives. That's WHY they ask you about the salary right at the end of a good interview - they want to tie you to a number before you leave the room on the basis that you KNOW they want you. There's nothing wrong with taking it, but there's never any harm in negotiating for more either (or even just leaving the question open while you "read through the contract"). The worst that happens is they say "Sorry, but that's the absolute maximum we can pay" (and I've never had that happen when I've asked).

The primary reason to not publish salary data is to stop someone else finding out that they voluntarily elected to do the same job as someone else for less money (or for less money than their predecessors, etc.). That's it. Because when they find out, it creates bitterness and they will demand to earn the same, even though nobody told them that they could earn more if they'd asked.

Throughout my career, I've earned more than my peers. Not by huge factors, but by enough to notice. To the extent that, at one employer, my boss had to call the local government office and get them to create a salary band just for me, and then my boss had to personally sign-off that what he was doing was unprecedented in that local office. They were very unhappy about letting him do that, but he was the boss at the site and *he* dictated terms to them - they did it, I earned more than anyone ever had in that role in that LGO, and I stayed there for many years.

Throughout my career, I've totally ignored "salary bands" and automatic increments. I don't even bother to try to understand them. When I feel I've earned more money, I ask for it. Chances are, before I get that far, my employers recognise what's about to happen and pre-empt my request and do so ignorant of salary bands, peer-earnings and official wage structures (trust me, the people in charge of HR / finance can always find ways around such restrictions without doing anything "naughty").

Where some people have taken years to move to the top of their salary band (and then stagnated then for many years) and then had to take extraordinary measures to be promoted to be moved into the next band, I've often just skipped up entire bands each year, by clever playing with job titles, roles, etc. by the finance people in charge in order to give me / my employer what we want. If you don't ask, you don't get. At most, ask "what do I have to do to move up a band?" or similar and then - if you want it - DO IT.

In return, my employers got someone who goes above-and-beyond and (assuming they recognise that), I make just as many concessions about things I *could* make them do as they do about what kind of rules they have to work around to pay me what I ask for.

Publishing individual salaries is unnecessary and stupid. If you're too shy to negotiate a deal better than the rest of the employees, well, I feel sorry for you. Salary negotiations are personal and private. Employers save a bunch of money by paying people what the EMPLOYEE thinks is a good wage. If they do - everyone's happy, the employee thinks they did well, the employer saves some money, the job gets done just the same.

What happens when unions step in or salaries are published is the opposite of good - you end up with bitterness and resentment because people never bothered to ask "Sorry, could I have a little more money before I sign on this line?", because people never bothered to bring up their salary in conversation when they'd just completed a huge project well, you get groups of "below-average" workers fighting to earn the same as their top worker "just because", and you get no individual recognition. Becoming part of a mindless corporate team that I may have to either drag-down, or keep afloat single-handed is of no interest to me.

Be sure - employers are afraid to publish salaries not JUST because they might be earning huge salaries themselves, but because of the knock-on effects of Joe Lazy who's near being sacked demanding to earn the same as star-worker who's going to be promoted next week through his own skill and dedication.

After many hours of explanation, I drummed into one employer what it meant to give out the domain administrator / database administrator passwords to a successor (a random agency temp at the time, but they were going to eventually outsource) thus: "They will have access to any and all salary information". Suddenly, it wasn't all that important for anyone other than an skilled IT employee under permanent contract to have access to that password.

Salary publishing and openness are rare for a reason - it's not the people "creaming off" at the top. They are easy to spot, and they are doing nothing that hasn't been approved by the appropriate boards anyway. Generally people at the top have their personal salary published anyway.

The problem is the people at the bottom - who will cause ten times the fuss, even down to strikes, quitting, suing, etc. because they never realised that they weren't actually constrained to doing the exact minimum of work to get only the exact pay-band increase promised in the literature.

P.S. Next time you negotiate a salary - no matter what story you get told - ask if they could find some way to give you a little more money. They half-expect it if they have a brain - even in government / non-profit places - and can more often oblige than not. They might have to "go away and think about it", but even them thinking about it is positive.

Do the same when you change jobs. I just did. "What would we need to pay you?" "What I was earning at the other place, plus 10%". And then make sure that's what ends up on the paper. And then do the same kind of negotiations next time they mention you being at the top of your band or whatever.

"job type"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45811443)

Salary = job type X seniority X experience + location (+ $10K if salary choice)

He doesn't really explain, how the first multiplier "job type" is calculated.

Re:"job type"? (1)

grimJester (890090) | about 7 months ago | (#45812029)

If all salaries are public, you can probably figure that out.

What about other "compensation"? (1)

karlnyberg (743268) | about 7 months ago | (#45811495)

Stock, stock options, vacations, automobile, life / health / disability insurance?

Too many CEOs think they are making a statement by announcing that they are only getting paid $1 / year all the while cleaning up on all the other perks...

It's comparing apples and oranges by using only one metric.

About that transparency (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45811577)

Some metrics are much more important than salaries. Many startups desperately hide their desperate finances from employees. Silicon Valley startups tend to do better, mostly as a result of jaded employees ("this ain't my first startup rodeo").

The best startup I worked with in that regard had monthly all hands meetings where the CEO disclosed cash on hand, cash burn for the month and reasons (we were a hardware vendor, so major burn), anticipated burn for the next, a status update on closing our current round of funding and valuation, a status update on the next round, new customers, new hires, milestones reached, etc. It was awesome (and it still failed).

Many startups I have worked with are in serious denial over self-measurement.

Midwest startup example - a recruiting pitch from the co-founder and chairman of the board where he says the company has "lots of money", only to discover a week after starting that they can't order hardware because they can't pay their bills. And would you please sign this non-compete? Oh, you read it? It says you are prohibited for working with packets for a year after leaving? We had no idea!

Awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45811605)

I thought about doing this too a while back

Spending investors money vs. their own (2)

rockmuelle (575982) | about 7 months ago | (#45811691)

It will be interesting to see if they keep this up when they're spending customer's money rather than investor's. A blank business with a set amount of money to spend is easy to model this way. Once you start to find the real value in your offering and determine how revenue is actually made, things get trickier. One or two stellar salespeople or engineers can be responsible for an outsize portion of the business. They need to be compensated appropriately.

-Chris

Re:Spending investors money vs. their own (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45812111)

It will be interesting to see if they keep this up when they're spending customer's money rather than investor's. A blank business with a set amount of money to spend is easy to model this way. Once you start to find the real value in your offering and determine how revenue is actually made, things get trickier. One or two stellar salespeople or engineers can be responsible for an outsize portion of the business. They need to be compensated appropriately.

-Chris

I don't see the problem. I think that is the whole point of transparency. It would be clear that they were rewarded for significant contribution.

Free Market (1)

nickmalthus (972450) | about 7 months ago | (#45811781)

Isn't this the way the free market is suppose to work? In an open market workers (suppliers) can see what positions and skills are being paid the most (demand). I would think open salaries would make for a more competitive environment and assist in reducing the extreme income equality in America.

...and everyone is above-average (2)

argStyopa (232550) | about 7 months ago | (#45811797)

Personally, I'd rather not work for a firm where the quality of my work doesn't equate in the least with the pay calculations. Do I look like some unionist drone (at least in Europe, they are usually paid along the same sort of gridded scale).

Yes, of course, anyone rationalizing it will simply say "well, we only keep exceptional people" - to which, after 30 years in the workplace, I call "bullshit".

In every group there are going to be achievers and slackers. Frankly, I want my compensation*/pay to be the highest I can compel the company to pay me, otherwise yeah, I will go somewhere else.

*note, compensation isn't pay - there are a host of other ways a company can compensate an employee that can be hugely beneficial that aren't cold, hard, taxable cash.

Is living close a feature or a bug? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45811847)

I see that location factors in. Do you get paid more for living close, or for living far?

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