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Undercover Manager Activities

Chapter 8: Rewarding Employees

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8.1 Pay Transparency

8.2 Gratitude Habits

Undercover Manager 

Activity 8.1 

Pay Transparency

In Chapter 8 (Rewarding Employees), we highlight an overall trend toward pay transparency. In some cases, pay transparency is being regulated by government forces. For example, in the U.S., California and Colorado and the city of New York have introduced legislation requiring organizations to include salary ranges in their employment advertising. In the absence of legislation, there is wide variation across organizations and national contexts in pay transparency. The resources we’ve included in this activity provide some background about the pressures on employers to include salary ranges in employment advertising. 

In this activity, you will view your organization’s compensation system through the eyes of an important group of stakeholders (job applicants). Choose a specific job in your organization – ideally, an entry-level position for which your organization regularly recruits. The ads you used in Undercover Manager 2.1 (Employment Advertising) could help you identify a focal job. Start by collecting a sample of ads in your local market for similar jobs at other organizations, and then compare them to your own employer’s ads. How often do the ads report salary ranges? How do competitors’ salary ranges compare to the salary offered by your own employer (is your organization a market leader or a market follower)? To what extent do the ads display some of the problems identified in the media (e.g., excessively broad salary ranges)? In the long run, what are the advantages and disadvantages of including salary ranges in your organization’s recruitment advertising? As reported in the Economist, research suggests that pay transparency in job ads may narrow gender pay gaps but simultaneously create wage compression.


Pay transparency in employment advertising:

Francis, T. (2022, November 7). Job postings with broad pay ranges leave applicants guessing in NYC. The Wall Street Journal.

Johanson, M. (2021, September 22). Why companies don't post salaries in job adverts. BBC.  

Kessler, S. (2023, January 14). Who benefits when salary info is public? The New York Times.  

Spanjaart, J. (2022, November 15). The state of salary transparency in Europe: Will 2023 finally be the year? Totalent.  

The Economist. (2023, January 5). Pay-transparency laws do not work as advertised.

Undercover Manager 

Activity 8.2 

Gratitude Habits

When managers think about rewarding employees, they often think first about financial rewards. However, in Chapter 8 (Rewarding Employees), we encourage you to recognize the power of expressing gratitude in the workplace. Managers are busy people, and your day to day workloads and looming deadlines can lead you to overlook gratitude opportunities. Further, without a little practice, your gratitude attempts can feel inauthentic – to you and to your recipients. This activity will help you to nurture a gratitude habit, either individually or within their team.

Professor Kim Cameron has studied positive leadership behaviors across his career, and the two videos we include in the resources are a good introduction to the topic. You can watch the videos or go directly to the gratitude habit-building suggestions below.


Solo Gratitude Behaviors:

(1) Commit to writing a specific number (say, 5) of thank you cards every week to work colleagues.

(2) Commit to “positively embarrassing” a specific number (say, 5) of work colleagues every week; positive embarrassment means complimenting a colleague in front of someone else who cares (a coworker, a boss, a client).


Team Gratitude Behaviors:

(3) Commit to deliver 1+1 awards at every team meeting you lead; a 1+1 award means that the manager expresses gratitude to one team member, who then expresses gratitude to a second team member.

(4) Commit to beginning every team meeting by asking “what should we celebrate?” to identify opportunities to express appreciation for team members’ behavior.


You should commit to one of these four behaviors with an associated timeline (1-2 months). Like any habit, it takes time for gratitude behaviors to feel natural and automatic. Try keeping a journal and recording your experiences and observations. You can return to this activity when you read Chapter 10 (Retaining Employees) and consider whether your new gratitude habit had any impact on developing on-the-job embeddedness in your team (Chapter 10, Retaining Employees) or making your team environment more inclusive (Chapter 11, Creating an Inclusive Workplace).


Gratitude in the workplace:

Beheshti, N. (2021, November 16). Try this gratitude practice with your team to build better team morale and relationships at work. Forbes.‌nazbeheshti‌/2021/11/16/try-this-gratitude-practice-with-your-team-to-build-better-team-morale-and-relationships-at-work/?sh=1fc35bff2e15  

Center for Positive Organisations – Michigan Ross. (2020, August 20). Small practices for big payoffs (Kim Cameron) [Video]. YouTube.‌/watch?v=pCZkGS7Y-jU

Motivated to Lead. (2021, July 30). Episode 110: Positive leadership, Kim Cameron (Replay) [Video]. YouTube. [especially the material on “virtuous activities” that begins around 21:30]

Royle, O. R. (2023, March 3). Almost half of employees don’t believe their boss’s praise is genuine. Here’s what leaders can do to fix that. Fortune.‌/03/03/‌‌oc-tanner-employees-workplace-recognition-empty-gesture-what-leaders-can-do/


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