Asian workers keep mum about salaries

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 July, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 July, 2006, 12:00am

SALARY IS NOT a popular conversation topic among work colleagues in the Asia-Pacific region.

This was one of the conclusions recruitment firm Talent2 made after conducting an online survey in May. Of the 741 respondents, 79 per cent said they did not talk about their earnings.

The survey suggested that bosses were the least likely to talk about how much they earned; 90 per cent of senior managers and 89 per cent of chief executives and managing directors said they did not talk about their wages. The main reason for this was to avoid embarrassment because of the size of their monthly earnings compared with what their employees made.

In contrast, generation Y workers (those born in the 1980s and 1990s) were proud to sport their salaries like a badge, with 32 per cent discussing salary with colleagues, compared with just 10 per cent for people aged over 45.

Talent2 Hong Kong chief executive Lachlan Sloan said most of those who did discuss their salaries were truthful about how much they earned.

It was also noted that men were more likely than women to embellish the size of their pay packets. More than 28 per cent of respondents believed their colleagues lied to them about how much they earned.

'Some 49 per cent of companies have a salary confidentiality policy, but this can sometimes be at the expense of the employee, particularly when applying for a new role or negotiating a promotion,' Mr Sloan said.

'There needs to be some benchmark to equip employees with the tools and confidence to discuss their current and future earning potential. While benchmarks would provide a basis for discussions, negotiations should be based on competence in the role and experience.

'There is definitely a generational difference when it comes to talking about money. For baby boomers, money is rarely discussed and displays of wealth are frowned upon. For those in generation X and Y, however, the more designer labels you can show off, the more successful you are.'

The Talent2 survey also suggested that, apart from discussing their salaries and showing off their wealth, generation Y employees had a poor work ethic. Only 2 per cent of the respondents believed generation Y had the strongest work ethic, and about 35 per cent believed baby boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) had the strongest work ethic, followed by generation X (1965 to 1980) with 16 per cent of the vote.

Generation X and Y respondents did not believe baby boomers had a superior work ethic to their own, with half saying the work ethic was unrelated to the generation one belonged to.

Mr Sloan said generation X and Y workers were perceived as being lazy and spoilt, but in reality they simply had a different set off priorities to baby boomers.