Open wage policies are not the most obvious choice. The outside world often reacts skeptically. Some companies have even asked us to not overshare details about our wage transparency. This rises from fear or conservatism.

It’s sometimes labeled as a trend, an experiment doomed to fail. Even though Jelle and I have extensive experience in the field of HR and Payroll, our choice to use an open wage policy is frowned upon and treated as a utopian ideal that can only be maintained in a start-up that employs 5 people. Or at most 10, if you insist.

Today, at Teal Partners, we employ 26 people. Together we are realizing very large and complex software projects. All of our colleagues firmly stand by this policy. Why? The transparency we wield guarantees fair salary agreements for everyone. It brings us closer together as a team and improves our collaboration.

We never tempt a candidate with a few hundreds of euro more than the salary we pay people who are already on board with us. Each time we recruit someone, we discuss the financial proposal we are presenting the candidate. The pay gap between men and women is unknown to us. Not that we don’t employ any women. With five female colleagues, we have a rather atypical distribution in gender amongst our employees within our industry. We also refuse to create a large gap between the lowest and highest paid employees within the organization.

In some cases, our open salary policy leads us to surprising conversations. When we offered a raise to one of our employees, he rejected the proposal. He’d rather wait a few more months until he could contribute at least as much as his more experienced colleagues. In how many companies do you think a situation like this occurs?

Is an open salary policy beatific? Well, of course not. There are many challenges involved. How do you determine the salary? What criteria are used? The answer is never clear. Consultation and consideration are key in the matter. We pay respect to each individual situation and always communicate with honesty and openness. We consider relevant experience, age, the value that someone brings to the company, and the market. We benchmark our wages on a regular basis with comparable companies. Afterwards, we discuss the results within the team and adjust our agreements accordingly.

This works for us. Since our start three and a half years ago, we haven’t regretted this decision, not for one second. Even better: we can recommend it to every company. Whoever speaks openly about a sensitive subject as salary, encourages openness and creates trust. In my opinion, that is the strongest fundament when building a strong team.