I have an office of 50 and everyone except my high managers seem to openly discuss salaries. We've tried to put policies in place but ultimately it's difficult to prove they are discussing salaries and I'm not going to fire anyone on a whim. It creates a problem because there is jealousy among those that have similar roles but have different pay for whatever reasons (years of experience, or negotiated a better salary from the get-go)
The biggest problem is with mid management, those making under 10k rmb per month. I can't get them to keep their mouths shut like the top managers. You may think I'm naive to think our top management isn't speaking, but it hasn't been a problem in our office so far.
Is this something that will never go away? Has anyone else dealt with this?
They discuss it,Cause there are some problems need to be dicussed.
I'm not sure what the issue is. Why would you be concerned about your staff discussing this matter? In China, it's considered normal to discuss such matters openly. In any case, does it surprise you this matter is being discussed by people working in an economy that has for the past couple of decades experienced near double digit economic growth?
Even if you were to take punitive action against staff discussing the salary issue, which I know you're not planning to do, the staff would still have salary discussion elsewhere (i.e. away from the office).
Why not take the opportunity to meet with the staff and find out why they're discussing it. Maybe they're trying to drop a hint...
Problem with Chinese staff is that one hand they discuss how much they make and if they feel un-just they will leave without a notice. These are two rather uncommon things in the West but have here big consequences to keep them aligned.
What todo about it, put a smart bonus system in place. Low level workers get a small bonus, team performs well get a bigger bonus and their manager. Multiple teams perform well the top lvl manager gets a bonus so everyone feels fair.
Good point CM re: bonuses, but I found they don't work. I tried implementing an individual and team bonus system among Chinese staff which I got the staff to design (i.e. their 'buy in') and all but 2 or 3 failed to meet the bonus requirement. Resentment then ensued between the staff who achieved targets to receive their bonus and those who did not. The Iron Rice Bowl mentality still prevails in the modern workplace in China.
For some staff members they apparently weren't.
its normal for chinese to ask how much you earn. this is a common topic of conversation. people ask me in the lift, in taxis etc. you shouldnt worry about it. when i go back to western countries i sometimes have to stop myself from asking what people paid for houses etc and how much they earn. you have to accept that its the norm here and dont be afraid about this information getting out. so what? you made the offer and they accepted it. thats it. if theyre not happy with their pay they can quit.
This is part of the culture, absolutely impossible to stop. You have to learn to live with it. The worst part is that they may not even be talking the truth to each other. I knew for experience numbers get inflated when discussing salary, price paid for jewelry, cost of vacations, cost of dinner. Used to be fun when one comes complaining about his workmate makes more money when you are able to show then they are lying.
It gives face to tell others you were able to spend so much in something when actually you did not.
I know of people that drive a BMW but have almost no furniture in home.
One other thing, let's say you figure a way to have them stop discussing their salaries with their workmates. Then you will see they discuss their salaries with their schoolmates. Eventually you will hear that so and so schoolmate that is working for a similar company is making twice as much as they are doing.
It is useless to control this.
I had people quit because they compare their progress in the company with the progress of a schoolmate that was in a different province.
just be open about it, end of discussions.. people who work better should get more. publish all salaries and the discussion is over.
hmmm would you?
"work better" is ambiguous... What if my experience and skill level is above the others? What if I possess special skills no other colleague have? If I spent all weekdays and weekends doing OT hours?
Apple and oranges - no need to compare with the others.