Signaling in Secret: Pay-for-Performance and the Incentive and Sorting Effects of Pay Secrecy

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Key Findings: Pay secrecy adversely impacts individual task performance because it weakens the perception that an increase in performance will be accompanied by increase in pay; Pay secrecy is associated with a decrease in employee performance and retention in pay-for-performance systems, which measure performance using relative (i.e., peer-ranked) criteria rather than an absolute scale (see Figure 2 on page 5); High performing employees tend to be most sensitive to negative pay-for- performance perceptions; There are many signals embedded within HR policies and practices, which can influence employees’ perception of workplace uncertainty/inequity and impact their performance and turnover intentions; and When pay transparency is impractical, organizations may benefit from introducing partial pay openness to mitigate these effects on employee performance and retention.
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2014-03-01
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pay-for-performance; incentives; job performance; pay secrecy
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