What’s happened since we revealed our salary bands

“Are you nuts?”

That was just one thing I heard in the summer after publishing the salary bands for different roles at our agency.

Maybe that comment was a little extreme. But I heard versions of that response from other people who would never follow our lead. And fair enough — they know their businesses better than someone like me, on the outside, knows their business.

Take other agency owners. Many operate on small margins. Keeping wages low can be a key lever. Others just had no idea why anyone would reveal salaries — let alone blog about doing it! — when paying respectable rates might mean less profit for them.

Or consider the HR pros. I’ll never know as much about talent issues as they do. But, often, those who have been critical of our salary disclosures have never worked in a business and industry like ours. We’re seeking to attract the best people — in particular, the kinds of people who buy into our values. And we recognise the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has seen many businesses lose staff as people have become disaffected with the ‘workplace as usual’ as part of the Great Resignation.

Someone told me it’s wrong to talk about salary in a job ad — let alone disclose general pay levels — because existing employees might get upset and leave when they realise they’re being underpaid. Of course, that’s part of the point: You can disclose salaries or salary bands only if everyone is in a decent place.


Indeed, part of the benefit of an open policy on pay is that existing team members know they’re in a fair place relative to the people next to them. To restate, that doesn’t mean everyone doing the same job earns exactly the same. For example, someone might be a new recruit while another person has helped you grow the business over five years. But the equity should be apparent.

Benefit number one has been a happy team (a content content team?), more willing than ever to support one another. You can’t put a price on good morale. (As a side note, it also stayed with me that, when I was having doubts at the last minute about our open pay policy, it was team members who encouraged me to go ahead.)

Lastly for now, our new policy is already helping us recruit. Potential new hires see more than just how they could advance from one position to the next — at least one has spoken about integrity as a factor in signing on the dotted line.

Too much transparency?

This certainly wasn’t our first attempt at transparency. When setting out a decade ago, we resolved never to ghost anyone. Replies might not always be immediate but suppliers and others we work with — let alone job applicants — should always hear back from us.

And we’ve written before about ‘farm fresh content’ — always being open about who’s working on a client’s content, including when we use freelancers and how we source other types of talent.

The last thing I’ll ask is whether this subject is just all too much for some people. It’s quite a British thing not to want to talk about money. Somebody recently wrote to me about contributing a guest article — and I explained why the issues above are controversial and might work well as the subject. She never brought it up with me again. Or maybe she also just thinks we’re “nuts”.

I’ll take our company culture and attracting good people over embarrassment.


Follow our agency on Twitter — @ColContent

(Photo by Peter F on Unsplash)




Media, marketing, tech, b2b, London. Runs Collective Content (UK). Previously: CBS, CNET, Silicon, Japan.

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Tony Hallett

Tony Hallett

Media, marketing, tech, b2b, London. Runs Collective Content (UK). Previously: CBS, CNET, Silicon, Japan.

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