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Do you feel unfairly paid? If so, you may not be alone
NEW YORK (CBSNews) -- If you feel like you're not paid what you're worth, you have an army of disgruntled rank-and-file at your back.
Thirty-nine percent of employees say they don't receive fair pay in their current job, according to a new survey from employment site Glassdoor.com. Women are more likely to feel underpaid than men, with 42 percent of female workers saying they're not fairly paid compared with one-third of men.
That women feel shortchanged by their paychecks might not be all that surprising, given that female workers only make about 77 cents for every dollar earned by men.
But across the board, workers are still laboring under the Great Recession's overhang, with many companies still not back up to pre-2008 employment levels, notes Glassdoor career and workplace expert Rusty Rueff. At the same time, employment sites such as Glassdoor, where employees report their salaries and wages, are providing more transparency on earnings, leading to concerns about being underpaid.
"If employers think employees don't have a sense of how they are paid in relationship to their peers, then they are naive," Rueff told CBS MoneyWatch.
The survey results come several days after "Equal Pay Day," marked on April 8, which represents how far into 2014 women need to work to earn what men earned the previous year. President Obama recognized the day by signing an executive order that bars federal contractors for punishing employees who discuss their salaries with each other.
Still, many companies would prefer compensation to remain opaque. After all, the prevailing thought is that transparency hampers a company's ability to negotiate. If an employee doesn't know her cubicle-mate is earning $10,000 more than her, then that's more money going to the company's bottom line.
There may be some reason for managers' fear that transparency could lead to a run-up in wages. After all, take a look at executive compensation. Public companies are required to disclose compensation for chief executives, chief financial officers and other top-level executives. Those companies' boards then compare the pay at their C-level suite with rival businesses to set raises and bonuses.
But few would say this transparency has made executive compensation fairer, at least to the average worker. The CEO-to-worker pay ratio was a whopping 331 last year, up from 46-to-1 in 1983, according to the AFL-CIO.
The pay gap between executives and the average workers is also bothering employees, Glassdoor found. About half of the respondents said they believe the income disparity between top execs and everyone else is getting worse.
Given that workers are still dealing with heavier workloads following the recession, "seeing the fat cats getting more money exacerbates that feeling" of being underpaid, Rueff said. "It wasn't that long ago when you sat down and people talked about a pay increase of 6 to 7 percent. It's been a long time since people saw that type of increase."
Employees said they're open to other ways of receiving compensation, if salary hikes aren't in the cards. About six out of 10 said they'd be satisfied with more paid vacation days (which is ironic, given that Americans take only about half their vacation time), while about half wanted more career opportunities and flexible work hours.
The upshot, Rueff notes, is that clearer communication between employers and workers about how their compensation is structured and how employees can earn more would help increase on-the-job satisfaction. "It's about getting your employer to sit down with you, and tell you this is where you stand in relation to everyone else," he noted.
Take a look at Buffer, a social-sharing app and site. The company, which vows "radical transparency," published every employee's salary on its blog last year. The CEO, its top-paid worker, makes $158,000, while lower-level employees earned from $70,000 and up. Some workers earned extra for working in high-cost cities.
In the month following its blog post, Buffer received almost 2,900 job applications, more than double the 1,263 from the month prior, according to Quartz. Its CEO told the publication: "It kind of feels like this is somewhat of a movement bubbling up here. That's kind of surprising."
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