Sharing salary data lets everyone know where they stand | Allison Zisko

Our salaries are our best-kept secret.

Although almost every other formerly taboo topic — sex, politics, religion — is freely discussed among friends and in public, the amount of money we make is not. Everyone is left to speculate and gossip.

There is a good argument for keeping this a private matter. But there is an equally good reason to shine a little daylight on salaries, at least in the business sector. Sharing compensation data lets everyone know where they stand and benefits all parties —both employees seeking their next industry job and employers hoping to hire and retain the most vital and productive workforce. Without empirical data, it is hard to be competitive.

Public companies and government workers salaries are either well known or relatively easy to figure out, but there are very few public companies in the furniture and accessories business. And to the best of my knowledge, there is no readily available salary information pertaining specifically to the home furnishings industry.

So we decided to crack open the door by conducting our own salary survey. The results, which are detailed in our cover story this month, are encouraging. Nearly 70% of retail and 62% of manufacturing personnel in positions ranging from sales associates to mid-level managers to CEOs said they were “very” or “somewhat” satisfied with their current compensation package. But the most telling is the level of job commitment among home furnishings executives — 51% of those in retail and 42% from manufacturing have been on the job with their current employer for 15 years or more.

Savvy employers do not take this loyalty for granted. In our July issue, we also spoke to CEOs who described their efforts to retain and cultivate their workforce through measures ranging from clearly stated goals and expectations to encouraging employee investment in the business (both literally and figuratively).

One of the bigger challenges will be juggling an at-home and in-office workforce. While we have written extensively about the shift to virtual tradeshow formats and Zoom meetings with suppliers on the other side of the world, there has been little talk about how our own companies are running internally. Surprisingly, only 21% of those in retailing and 31% of those in manufacturing have adopted a hybrid format. I will be the first to say how challenging it is to work with a team that is spread across several states (and countries) and rarely sees one another, or how much I long for the opportunity to poke my head above a cubicle wall to ask or answer a question, but it belies what is going on in the rest of the business world. Employees are rewriting the rules of business, and the next generation of workers will expect more flexibility.

This ground-breaking survey is meant to provide food for thought. There were topics we could not tackle (like comparing salaries of men and women) but plan to address in future surveys. I’d love to hear from you. What more do you want to know about home furnishings salaries? Email me at

See also:

Salary survey: A closer look at the numbers

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