Salary Transparency

Salary transparency at University Children’s Hospital Zurich 


The introduction of salary transparency at University Children’s Hospital Zurich started already in 2014. Désirée Nater, Head of HR at Children’s Hospital Zurich, explains the approach taken to introduce transparent salary information, its impact on corporate culture, and shares her personal tips. 

Salary Transparency

What were the main reasons that encouraged Children’s Hospital Zurich to implement salary transparency? 

We knew from various studies that many applicants wanted to find salary information in the job ads. For this reason, when we redesigned our job ads in 2014, it was important to us to include salary information. That was quite an innovation back then. 

What were the specific steps and processes involved in introducing salary transparency? 

We have a very clear salary structure, which is the basis for specifying a salary band in the job ads. This introduction required some discussions with our management at the time. Initially, we could only mention the salary range in advertisements for one specific area. However, the benefits of this salary transparency quickly became apparent and since then we have published the salary in every advertisement, with very few justified exceptions. 

What communication channels were employed to convey the shift towards salary transparency to employees, and what were their reactions? 

Due to the reluctance of our management at the time, we did not widely communicate the topic, but only informed line managers during the recruitment process. The reactions were predominantly positive. 

Have you observed any changes in employee performance, retention, or recruitment due to the implementation of salary transparency? 

We frequently receive very positive feedback from applicants regarding this transparency. Occasionally, we also hear that candidates choose not to apply because of the salary range. This saves time on both sides, which I consider to be very positive. During the interviews, we notice a greater sense of ease compared to before. There are probably fewer discussions about salary as well. 

How did you handle concerns about data protection and confidentiality when disclosing salary information? 

We state a salary range in the job advertisements that refers to our salary tables, which are accessible to everyone. This ensure that we do not compromise data protection or confidentiality. 

What advice would you give to other companies who are considering the introduction of salary transparency? 

Salary transparency must be based on a clear salary structure and a salary classification model. We consistently use the same system to classify new employees. If applicants see a salary range in an advertisement and don’t understand why they are placed in the middle rather than at the top of the salary range, for example, we can provide an explanation at any time. This clarity is crucial. 

What are the most important advantages of salary transparency for you? 

As mentioned, applicants know right from the beginning what they can expect in terms of salary. This makes the entire process much less stressful, and usually long discussions around salary can be avoided. This fosters trust among employees, as everyone is aware of the standardized guidelines for salary classification. 

Do you believe that the concept of salary transparency will become widely adopted in Switzerland and other countries? 

As mentioned, various studies have shown that applicants desire salary information in job ads. I can only encourage other employers to recognize this added value for their recruitment process and create the conditions necessary to take this step. In Switzerland, there are still very few companies that follow the example of salary transparency. There is certainly potential here. However, based on presentations on this topic in Germany, I am aware that the subject is even more taboo there than here. 

Désirée Nater has been working at University Children’s Hospital Zurich for thirteen years as Head of HR. Seven years ago, she took on the role of Deputy Head of HRM. For her, HR is much more than just a job and she contributes with passion to shaping the spirit of the hospital and promoting a unique corporate culture. She also passes on her expertise as a lecturer and speaker.