As pay transparency continues to rise in popularity – even for states without legislation in place – HR is forced to adapt to new processes and procedures related to pay transparency.
Since widespread pay transparency is still in its early stages, trial and error is the name of the game when it comes to pay transparency policies and strategies. Luckily, some HR pros on Reddit shared the lessons they’ve learned so far when it comes to pay transparency.
The rise of pay transparency
Although some companies have been transparent about salary for years, the pay transparency trend has definitely seen an uptick in recent years, which may be due to hiring in a state that has pay transparency legislation or utilizing it as a tool to attract the best candidates.
As simple as pay transparency may seem from the outside, it can come with a lot of considerations for HR, such as how the range is calculated and the size of the range. Although it may tempting to pick a wide range to avoid having to iron out the details, posting an ultra-wide range can land you in hot water with potential candidates.
For many HR pros, implementing pay transparency has been a long process of trial and error.
Lesson 1: Stick to your salary range
The first step to any effective pay transparency strategy is to set the salary range for whichever position you’re hiring for. However, just figuring out that range can be difficult. Whether you want to post a true range, for the absolute minimum to the absolute maximum, or post within the min-to-mid range to leave wiggle room for negotiation, it’s important to stay true to your range.
“The range is the range,” said one user. “Communicate clearly that X is the max and most candidates fall in the middle. Confirm that they understand this by asking if they still want to proceed, knowing this. […] When you make an offer, and someone pushes to go outside the range, you reiterate the max you already told them, and don’t go out of the range.”
“If someone pushed you over the max range, that should either mean you found an A+, can’t-miss candidate, or your range is low and needed adjusting to [the] market,” said another. “If it’s neither of those two things, then you just aren’t holding firm to your ranges and there’s no way to fix that other than doing it.”
Lesson 2: Proceed with caution when asking about salary expectations
First things first: Salary expectations are often tied to – and based on – a candidate’s salary history. Because of this, it’s important to check your state and local laws because many states either prohibit employers’ ability to ask about applicants’ salary history or limit the ways employers can use that information.
So if you’re in a state with those limitations, you’ll want to be very clear that you’re asking about the applicant’s salary expectation – and not their salary history.
But even if you aren’t impacted by such state laws, it can still be a tough call on whether to ask about expectations upfront.
Some HR pros are split on whether to ask for a candidate’s salary expectations upfront. While there are pros and cons to each side, all HR pros should be mindful of potential pitfalls.
Asking for a candidate’s expectations with salary transparency can move HR into tricky waters. It can lead to choosing salary based on a candidate’s expectations rather than skills and experience, opening the company up to potential bias claims or legal trouble. “What happens if someone negotiates above the range, and you have others who are of a protected class who you told that the maximum was the maximum and that was all they could get?” said one user.
If possible, you may want to consult with a legal team on whether establishing salary expectations are beneficial for your needs or not.
Lesson 3: Set expectations with candidates before moving forward
Whether you discuss the candidate’s salary expectations or not, you should still establish mutual expectations when going forward in the interview process. This can be as simple as reiterating the salary range and confirming that the candidate is okay with this range. “During screenings, I tell them the wage or wage range and ask if this is acceptable. If they say no, then I let them know that this is the budgeted range and it’s up to them if they’d like to move forward,” one Reddit user said.
Mentioning this early in the process can ensure the candidate and the recruiter don’t waste their time if expectations don’t align.