When it comes to salaries, many tech companies embrace a meritocratic approach: “rock star” developers can expect lots of cash and perks, while those with similar experience and education—but who perhaps lack the talent and accomplishments—will make less.
For those at the top of the heap, such meritocracies are ideal. But for everybody else, the knowledge that employees at your level are making vastly greater sums of money can prove an irritant, if not an outright morale killer.
Other industries—most notably the legal profession—have avoided such internal strife by aligning employee compensation to the “lockstep” system, in which everybody is paid solely according to their rank within the company. In this system, it doesn’t matter if you’re a rock-star EVP; you’re still earning roughly the same amount as the EVP in the cubicle next to you.
According to TechCrunch, a selection of tech companies (mostly startups) have been debating whether to embrace lockstep. For those companies, according to the article, the benefits are obvious: “Outside of reduced competition, two other advantages to lockstep are eliminating salary negotiations and increasing transparency.” In other words, internal strife is (hopefully) reduced to a minimum, so everybody can focus on the actual work at hand.
Of course, many tech companies thrive on competition. But leveling salaries won’t automatically make employees complacent if other policies are in place, such as regular reviews to weed out underperformers. The biggest danger facing any tech company that embraces lockstep, it seems, is a rival firm trying to poach star performers with the promise of a gargantuan salary.