Why Millennials Are Breaking A Big Salary Taboo And What It Means For the Future of Compensation

My generation is known for creating and laughing at Internet memes. Whenever something surprising, devastating, or embarrassing goes viral, you can bet that some millennial out there will be churning out meme variations on it on social media faster than you can figure out how to pronounce “meme.”


A lot of the memes are funny, sure, but if you dwell on them for too long, they can be downright depressing. A common theme, for instance, is about how independent life has become increasingly unaffordable for many young people.


This, of course, has led to a lot of significant societal changes. Millennials have been known to live with their parents and put off getting married and having kids for far longer than any previous generation before them due to the yawning gap between compensation packages and inflation.


The economic crunch has also led to the upheaval of long-established financial etiquette. For instance, 30% of today’s yuppies don’t hesitate to *gasp!* talk about their salaries. With each other. In public.


Why Do Millennials Discuss Their Pay With Other People?

group of people discussing

Image Credit: iStock


When prompted as to why they freely divulge how much they get paid with their friends and peers, millennials cited at least one of the following reasons:

  1. Transparency.

    Some companies have taken a leaf from public officials, enabling just about anyone in the world to look up employee salaries on their database.

  3. Equality and Fairness.

    equality and fairness

    Image Credit: Getty Images


    In a perfect world, everyone doing the same job with the same level of skills would get paid the same. Alas, we all know that’s not the case.


    While social media might seem more “woke” about key issues like gender and race equality, those ideals are only just trickling down to the real world, and having a transparent discussion about how much one’s peers are making, especially if they come from diverse backgrounds, apparently increases awareness of such issues.

  5. Shared Financial Concerns.

    Compared to their boomer counterparts who were able to support their tertiary studies by working part-time, the current generation has been forced to take on crippling student debt just to finish college.


    Sharing such burdens with each other has led to a culture of openness, where people are very open about their financial capabilities and struggles in both seeking and providing helpful advice.

  7. Collaboration.

    team collaboration

    Image Credit: Shutterstock


    From roommates to ride-sharing, the typical millennial lifestyle is pretty collaborative at heart. Interestingly, this spills over into the discussion on salaries.


    Rather than comparing salaries to see who’s getting ahead, the conversation is actually more about gauging industry pay standards and determining how to get one’s salary in line with such.


    Furthermore, with remote work becoming more common among the younger workers, checking in with your peers is a great way to determine how much you should get paid for your skills and for certain projects.

  9. New Conversational Norms.

    When celebrities regularly overshare aspects of their personal lives, discussing paychecks seems almost tame in comparison.


How Does the Absence of a Salary Taboo Affect A Company’s Compensation System?

the future of compensation

Image Credit: iStock


In theory, an open discussion on compensation can level the playing field. For starters, knowing how much company workers and officials get paid clues people in on how the firm incorporates factors like role/position, job experience, and company loyalty into one’s salary.


This transparency would, in turn, also force certain companies to evaluate how they compensate their people.


Without a salary taboo in place, it would also be easier for workers to discover that they’re getting underpaid in comparison to their peers, thus providing them with sufficient grounds for voicing their concerns.


Lastly, pay transparency means companies will have to be upfront about how much they’re able to pay their employees rather than simply generating a figure based on an applicant’s past income.


All things considered, it looks like the rule about not talking about your paycheck will go the same way as diamonds and fabric softener: rendered completely irrelevant by millennials.

Serena Estrella

Serena joined Remit back in 2016, and has tormented its Marketing Head constantly ever since. To get through the rigors of writing about grave concerns like exchange rates, citizenship requirements, and PH-AU news, she likes to blast Mozart, Vivaldi, ONE OK ROCK, and Shigeru Umebayashi in the background. She does a mean Merida voice in her spare time too.


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