WORKPLACE / OCT. 17, 2015
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How Knowing Your Colleagues’ Salary Can Affect You

Oh, money. It makes the world go round, as they say – or is that love? Can it be both? Anyway, money is a pretty important part of life. We need it to pay our bills, feed ourselves, make sure we’re clothed and have shelter and all that good stuff. Sometimes money can be a deciding factor in whether we can handle that crappy job that pays nothing while following our dreams or whether we need to hold out for something more lucrative. We’re told from a young age not to ask someone how much they make, but what if you find out how much your coworkers are taking home each pay day? What would you do? How would you feel? Read on to find out how knowing your colleagues’ salaries can affect you, for better or for worse.

See Also: How to Have Your Suggestions at Work Taken Seriously

1. You Can Freak Out

You have my total and utter permission to freak out if you learn that others are taking home a much larger pay check than you do every two weeks. You’re definitely entitled to a freak out. But if you’re going to run screaming through your office, listing all the reasons why this company doesn’t deserve you and another place would be super lucky to have you, then you don’t have my permission at all. You’re on your own there. Of course you’re totally outraged, but yelling at your boss and coworkers who thought you were super normal and cool and smart and all that up until now, won’t be a good idea at all. You’re going to look like an insane person.

2. You Can Get Super Emotional

So you found out that your coworker, who does basically the exact same job as you, is making more money than you. Here’s the truth: you’re 100 percent going to feel super insecure and absolutely terrible about yourself. You’re going to wonder why you’re not good enough to make the same salary as your coworker. In other words, you’re going to get super emotional and are going to feel every single feeling under the sun. You’ll move from anger to grief to depression to confusion to, finally, complacency. You’ll realize you can’t do anything about it, so eventually you’ll just have to move on. Sigh. Doesn’t it suck to be a mature grown-up?

3. You Can Feel on Top of The World

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On the other hand, what if you’re making more than your coworker? Well that’s totally another story. You’re going to feel amazing and like you’re the coolest, smartest, most valuable employee around. You’ll assume that your boss thinks you’re just the best person that’s ever worked for them. It doesn’t matter if that’s true or not, it’s just what you think.

4. Your Productivity Will be Affected

The bad news is, if you’re making less than the people in the office, it might make you wonder why you’re even bothering coming into work at all. Your productivity will go way down because you might even start calling in sick when you’re not sick at all (we caught you) or even going out for lunch and never returning to the office and skipping the rest of the afternoon. You might also wonder why you try so hard to be impressive. If your coworker makes a ton but seems to put zero effort in and is just generally lazy about work, you might be even more upset because why do they deserve the extra money and you don’t? This is one of those times when knowledge is definitely not power and ignorance is definitely bliss. You’re going to miss the good old days when you had no idea what anyone made and you didn’t even care.

On the other hand, you might be even more productive. The best part of finding out that someone working with you makes more money than you? This knowledge will absolutely force you to be super productive. You’ll be so productive you won’t even know what got into you. It’s like you’re suddenly a superhero. If there’s anything that motivates us, it’s being told we’re not good enough or that we need to prove ourselves. You’re going to get super competitive with your colleagues. You’ll come into the office early, eat breakfast at your desk, stay late, and never complain because you’ve got your eye on a promotion or at least a raise. After all, you know that if you prove to your boss that you deserve some more funds every pay day, they’ll just have to give it to you. That’s how it works, right? No? Well, you can always start dreaming about it.

5. You Will Annoy Your Boss

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Whether you’re making more than your coworker who sits beside you or much less, there’s no doubt about it, you’re going to start annoying your boss. If you make more than everyone else, that could turn you into a money-hungry monster who could demand an even higher salary. If you make less, you’re going to whine about money to your heart’s content. Your poor boss.

You could also end up irritating your boss because you might start complaining about how much work you do and that your crazy workload and crazy hours don’t exactly correspond with how much you’re actually making. Your boss won’t sympathize here – they’re just going to tell you that this is 2015 and people are often working two or even 10 jobs instead of just one. If there’s one thing that bosses hate, it’s super whiny employees, so you definitely don’t want to be one of those. You want your boss to adore you, don’t you?

6. You Can Quit Your Job

At the end of the day, a job is just a job, even if it’s your dream job. Even a dream job can be a total nightmare at times. If your boss is not receptive at all to giving you a raise or if you are making drastically less than your position is worth, then you might end up putting in your two weeks’ notice and looking for employment elsewhere. Hey, you need money. No one could blame you here. Just don’t be surprised if you end up making a similar salary somewhere else – it’s a recession, after all, and you’re not exactly going to make millions. You’re not a famous actor or anything. Or are you? Is there something you want to tell us?

See Also: How to Be More Realistic About Career Expectations

People always say that there are two things you should never talk about during a polite dinner: money and politics. Politics can be kind of boring, so you probably don’t want to chat about that, but money is basically the opposite of boring, especially when it comes to your colleagues’ and their salaries. These are just some of the ways that knowing your coworkers’ salaries can affect you. You might be less or more productive, but other than that, it’s probably not the best idea to know salary details. It’s much better to be in the dark. You’ll be happier that way.

Do you think it’s a good idea or an absolutely horrible one, to know how much your coworkers make? Let us know in the comments section below.

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