Would you be upset to learn that someone else had paid 1/10th the price for the same, essential service you received?

Thanks to a rule that took effect in January, hospitals must now publish the prices they charged of 300 services and procedures.

The results have been both astounding and sickening.  Depending on your insurance, you could pay anywhere from $6,241 to $60,584 for a C-section at one hospital.  The “discounted” cash price on another procedure for an uninsured patient is over 3.6 times the lowest cost charged to an insured patient.

All this secrecy has not helped our hospitals.  Because of the strange, secret pricing system, most hospitals do not even know their own costs.

It can be hard to read this information and not get angry, but the truth is that most organizations treat salaries the same way.  The often unspoken but sometimes explicit “don’t ask, don’t tell” culture around compensation is actually damaging organizations and increasing turnover.  In fact, 58% of workers would consider leaving a job if they found a company that was more transparent around salary.

Tanya Jansen, co-founder and CMO of beqom, sums up the problem: “Because pay equity perceptions have such a strong influence on retention and employee morale, it’s incumbent upon organizations to be more transparent and communicative with employees around compensation.”

The lack of transparency makes people uncomfortable.  Just half (51%) are comfortable talking with their managers about pay.  Only 40%—down from 46% just two years earlier—were willing to discuss salary with their peers.  If they can’t talk about their pay with their manager or their peers, who can they talk to?

Like many issues, this disproportionately impacts women and younger workers—just 26% of Gen Z and 44% of female employees are comfortable discussing pay.

The bottom line is this: employees want transparency and clarity around compensation, and they do not trust an organization that does not provide it.  Candid, two-way feedback is an important way to build trust and develop culture.

It is no surprise organizations are not telling the whole truth when over half of workers had to take pay cuts during the pandemic but only 24% of executives did so.

Prove to your people you care enough about their success to be honest with them and be willing to have the hard conversations that help us all understand compensation clearly and fairly.