- Americans would rather talk about politics, religion and health problems than money, but 37% wish they could discuss finances more openly, a TD Ameritrade study found. The study, conducted by The Harris Poll, showed that 34% of respondents believe that discussing money in social settings is impolite.
- In other findings, student loan debt was the financial topic respondents were most uncomfortable discussing (36%), before childcare expenses (30%) and living paycheck to paycheck (26%). Fifty-one percent of all respondents — and 71% of millennial respondents — think society would be healthier if people felt comfortable discussing money.
- "In many American households, money isn't something you talk about," Wende Rhodes, VP of branches at TD Ameritrade, said in a release. "While politics and religion are topics regularly debated, money conversations seem to be stigmatized or off-limits, and that needs to change."
Discomfort with talking about money has historic roots; society as a whole once frowned on open discussions about people's earnings. Employers, for their part, kept workers' compensation confidential, and even now some workers in the tech sector have said they are discouraged from discussing their pay. But now, the spotlight is on pay inequities based on race and gender, making the issue into a more widely discussed talent problem. Some creative sectors have shifted to a more transparent model in response to rising employee interest and a desire to suss out pay gaps. And more generally, access to pay information on sites like LinkedIn have prompted more employees to question and examine their pay rates.
Even with more frequent discussions, pay remains a pain point for many workers. An early 2019 study from Peakon, an employee engagement platform, found that workers are reasonably happy with their jobs, workload, growth, management support and meaningful work, but were less satisfied with their pay rate. In fact, pay was the only job-related issue in the study that more respondents were displeased with, Peakon said.
For workplaces covered under the National Labor Relations Act, those organizations need to ensure that they aren't forbidding discussions about pay, which the National Labor Relations Board enforces as protected "concerted activity" under the law. HR might also take care to not expose workers' personal data when they disclose pay-related information and to review their compensation packages for disparities.