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HOW ABOUT A SIX-HOUR WORKDAY?

Can a move to a six-hour workday increase productivity and the happiness quotient of employees and their families and at the same time increase productivity and company profits?   In the U.S., more than 60 years after workers, through their unions, began organizing for an eight-hour day in the 1860s, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938 for all workers to see limits on working hours — initially 44 hours a week, then phased to 42 and eventually 40 by 1940.

Today some businesses in Sweden are trying out a six-hour workday hoping to get more done in a shorter amount of time and ensure people have the energy to enjoy their private lives.   This change is purely experimental and a voluntary one that has not been mandated by law nor implemented nationwide.

A Toyota vehicle service center in Sweden’s second largest city Gothenburg moved to shorter days thirteen years ago.  The service center reported a happier staff, a lower turnover rate, and an increase in profits during that time.  The new system keeps the garages open longer and generates new business.  Employees are doing the same amount in the six-hour workday, often more than they did in the eight-hour day.  The service center reports that employees have more stamina to do this heavy work, and they have seen greater profits and customers because cars are getting fixed faster.

The most high-profile case in recent months is the publicly funded Svartedalens nursing home in west Sweden which started a trial of a six-hour day in February 2015 to continue until the end of 2016 when they will determine whether the cost of hiring new staff members to cover the hours lost is worth the improvements to patient care and boost of employees’ morale.  The nursing home has 80 nurses working six-hour shifts maintaining their eight-hour salaries while 80 staffers at another nursing home work their standard hours.  At halfway through 2016, the nursing home trying the six-hour workday has half the average sick leave, the nurses are happier and the care is better.  The study, however, equates productivity with the quality of care, which doesn’t necessarily translate to white-collar work.

Gothenburg’s Sahlgrenska University Hospital’s orthopedics unit switched 89 nurses and doctors to a six-hour day last year, hiring 15 staffers to ensure the hospital work got done.  The test was expensive, costing the hospital $123,000 a month, but no one has called in sick since it began and the nurses and doctors have been found to be more efficient.

A number of startup companies have announced that they are also testing the concept.  These include Background AB, a creative communication agency in Falun, Dalarna and Filimundus, an app developer based in Stockholm.  Linus Feldt, Filimundus CEO believes that staying focused on a specific work task for eight hours is a huge challenge.  During an eight or more hour workday, employees take frequent breaks and look for distractions and diversions such as social media to make the workday more endurable.  With the six-hour workday, staff members at Filimundus are not allowed on social media, meetings are kept to a minimum, and the company does it’s best to eliminate other unproductive distractions.

Most of the companies who have made the shift to the six-hour workday have reported a positive impact, from increased efficiency to better communication and fewer staff sick days.  A 2014 Stanford University research paper found a “non-linear” relationship between hours worked and productivity, as well as too much work, can actually impinge productivity.  According to a study by the Families and Work Institute, overworked employees make more mistakes.  Research has shown that condensing work into more efficient hours is very unlikely to hurt productivity.  There is no need to lower pay and in fact, companies are likely to save money through less sick and personal leave, less stress leading to better health, and lower turnover costs.

Opponents of the six-hour workday feel that if Sweden were to adopt this standard, the economy would suffer from reduced competitiveness and strained finances.  The six-hour day has not been embraced by larger Swedish companies and other towns in Sweden that previously tested shorter workdays ultimately abandoned them.  In the northern city of Kiruna, officials scrapped a six-hour day for 250 municipal employees after 16 years, citing high expenses and resentment among workers who were not part of the program.

The six-hour work day would be less accepted in the U.S. because the eight+ hour workday ethic is so deeply embedded in our culture.  According to Gallup’s 2014 poll, full-time employees in the U.S. work an average of 47 hours per week.  It will be interesting to watch how the six-hour workday plays out in Sweden.  However, even with encouraging results, it’s unlikely that the U.S. will shift to shorter days anytime soon.  The rest of the world (outside of Europe) a 40-hour work week would be a very nice improvement as well.

At WageWatch our compensation consultants are focused on your organization’s compensation needs and ready to help you ensure that your compensation programs are supporting your company’s business strategy and objectives. WageWatch also offers accurate, up-to-date benefit surveys, salary surveys and pay practices data that will allow you to stay current with the times. This information is highly beneficial in creating the best salary and benefits packages that meet or rival the industry standards. For more information on our services, including consulting, salary survey data, benefit survey data and market compensation reports, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR OR EMPLOYEE?

If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it’s a duck.  In other words, if you are treating the ‘independent contractor’ like an employee by doing things such as providing work materials and office space, designating working hours, providing training and direction regarding how and when to perform the work, then the ‘independent contractor’ is most likely an employee.  Independent contractor is defined by the Fair Labor Standards Act, IRS regulations, and the decisions of some courts.  Many states also have specific independent contractor regulations.  The IRS and many states have adopted common law principles to define an independent contractor. These rules focus primarily on the level of control an employer has over a service or product. For independent contractors, the company can direct or control only the result of the work done, and not the means and methods in getting to the result.

The rules are not always clear-cut to determine the correct status, but generally characteristics of an Independent Contractor include:

  • The work assignment is temporary and typically for a specific project
  • The work assignment is not an integral part of the business and is not something typically done by employees.

The Independent Contractor will:

  • Supply his or her own equipment, materials and tools
  • Pay for their own expenses
  • Control the hours worked
  • Determine how and when to perform the work
  • Retain a degree of control and independence
  • Operate under a business name and has his/her own employees
  • Advertise his/her business’ services and has more than one client

Some courts and federal agencies use an “economic realities test” which looks at the dependence of the worker on the business.  If a large portion of a worker’s salary is from one specific company, this may qualify the as an employee. Other factors considered are level of skill, integral nature of the work, intent of the parties and payment of social security taxes and benefits.

Misclassification of an individual as an independent contractor may have a number of costly legal consequences such as reimbursement of all wages including overtime, taxes and penalties for federal and state income taxes, social security, Medicare and unemployment, providing employee benefits and workers compensation for any injuries.

There is no set number of factors that makes the worker an employee or an independent contractor.  Also, factors which are relevant in one situation may not be relevant in another.  The best approach is to look at the entire relationship, consider the degree or extent of the right to direct and control the work, and be sure to document all factors used in your determination process.

At WageWatch our compensation consultants are focused on your organization’s compensation needs and ready to help you ensure that your compensation programs are supporting your company’s business strategy and objectives. WageWatch also offers accurate, up-to-date benefit surveys, salary surveys and pay practices data that will allow you to stay current with the times. This information is highly beneficial in creating the best salary and benefits packages that meet or rival the industry standards. For more information on our services, including consulting, salary survey data, benefit survey data and market compensation reports, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

THE BOOMER GENERATION IN THE WORKPLACE

It is not uncommon for baby boomers to now work side by side with co-workers from Generation X and Generation Y. Each of the generations in the workplace today grew up in times with widely varying political and social issues, technology and other factors, which have affected their attitudes on everyday life. As an employer, it’s important that you understand each of the generations you employ in order to provide them with the work environment and rewards that make them most happy.

The basic employment packages for businesses are based on the needs of baby boomers, a very loyal generation of workers, typically staying with the same company for many years. Employees of this generation value their benefits, such as health insurance, life insurance, and vacation time. To determine if their company is providing salaries and benefits that are on target with the industry average salary, many employers turn to market compensation and benefit survey data. These baby boomer employees that have stayed with a company for most of their careers have invaluable knowledge and experience that is essential to business operations, so it’s important that employers keep them happy and reward them for their loyalty.

While it is important to keep baby boomers satisfied by analyzing market compensation data, benefit survey data and salary reports, it is also essential for employers to look at the needs of the upcoming generations. Many baby boomers are in management positions but will start to retire around the same time leaving a large number of open positions. It is essential that skilled employees of the X and Y generations be ready to take their place.

The new generations of workers enjoy benefits like the baby boomers, but these employees prefer additional incentives and small tokens of appreciation for their efforts. This generation is not as loyal to the companies they work for, and have no problem moving to a job at another company every two or three years. For this reason, it is even more important to build loyalty with employees of these generations by providing them with the benefits and incentives they desire. It is very beneficial for companies to use benefit survey data, market compensation data, and salary reports to determine the types of compensation, including incentives that are standard for the industry. Having this data will help companies to stay competitive with other employers by creating appealing benefits packages that will attract and retain top talent.

Today’s world moves fast, and as an employer, you should constantly be monitoring and adjusting your business operations to meet the ever-changing wants and needs of your employees. At WageWatch, we offer accurate, up-to-date benefit survey data, market compensation data and salary reports that will allow you to stay current with the times. This information is highly beneficial in creating the best salary and benefits packages that meet or rival the industry standards. For more information on our services, including market compensation data, benefit survey data, and salary reports, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

INCENTIVE PLAN ESSENTIALS

Well-designed and well-implemented incentive plans can be an important tool for overall company success, but they also have the potential to be ineffective and even damaging if not carefully thought out.  Poorly designed incentives can have too much discretion, too much complexity or just too many measures that can undermine their power and advantage, and they can become just another way to distribute pay.

Before you even consider incentives, make sure you know the company’s strategy and the critical measurements of success.  You will need to know the specifics regarding what you want to achieve, what kinds of improvements, behaviors and outcomes do you want; why aren’t these improvements happening now and what’s preventing them from taking place; what obstacles to the outcomes will employees face, how will employees respond to and try to overcome these obstacles, and is this what you want; Do employees have the skills, experience, systems and support they need to overcome these obstacles and if not, what is lacking?

The potential incentive must be big enough to get the employees’ attention.  Incentives can create a focus on results, but you have to first get the employee’s attention.  Because the opportunity for financial rewards motivates some more than others, your incentive plan will have a greater chance of success if you carefully define what the size of the opportunity must be in order to get the majority of your employees’ focus.

The performance or results required to earn the incentive must be within the employees’ control or significant influence and should be perceived as achievable with some extra effort or stretch.  It should be easy to see and understand the relationship between one’s effort, the results of that effort and the reward.   The incented performance needs to be perceived as a desirable, stretch goal to get and keep the employee’s attention. The payout must be worth the effort required to “stretch.”  The actual payout after the final measurement is made needs to justify the attempt that was made to achieve the full objective.

Develop robust tools for performance reporting so that the employee participants always know where they stand in relation to their goals and payouts.  The payout should be forecast as the performance period proceeds in order to keep the employees’ focus on the desired outcome.   Too much subjectivity in the measurements will turn a Plan into a surprise bonus.   The sources of the measurements should be available to every participant on a regular basis and calculations for determining payouts must be simple and easy to understand.

Incentive plans will also be more valued and accepted by employees when they are a compliment to an already competitive base salary plan.  Incentive plans are not meant to remedy non-competitive pay issues.  Finally, critical factors for a plans success lie in keeping it simple and ensuring good plan communications.

Incentive plans, or any other reward vehicles, cannot drive the performance-improvement bus alone. Unless you identify and remove the barriers to performance, and create the setting in which performance improvement is possible and even likely, throwing incentive money at the problem will likely have little positive impact and could produce some very real negative consequences.

WageWatch offers accurate, up-to-date HR metrics, benefit survey data, market compensation data and salary reports that will allow you to stay current with the times. This information is highly beneficial in creating the best salary and benefits packages that meet or rival the industry standards. The PeerMark™ Wage Survey is the only Web-based custom survey tool that allows individual survey participants to select their competitive set for comparison purposes.  Our experienced compensation consultants can assist with your organization’s compensation needs.  We can help you ensure internal equity and compliance with regulations as well as help you structure your compensation programs to support your company’s business strategy and objectives.   For more information on our services, including consulting, salary survey data, benefit survey data and market compensation reports, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

WHY ORGANIZATIONS ARE FINDING VALUE IN EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE (EI)

Emotional Intelligence (EI) is about being able to control your own emotions and the emotions of others.  Having emotional intelligence means being emotionally aware, able to identify, harness and apply those emotions to tasks like thinking and problem solving. Emotionally intelligent people will also have the ability to manage their own emotions and the emotions of others.  For example, having the ability to cheer someone up or calm someone down.

Emotional Intelligence impacts one’s attitude and outlook on life.  It can lesson mood swings, depression and ease anxiety.  People with high EI are better at conflict resolution and can be better negotiators as they are better able to understand the desires and needs of other people.  Relating to others in a positive way, understanding their motivations and building strong, sold bonds with co-workers ultimately allows those with higher emotional intelligence to be stronger leaders.

In today’s workplace, it is important to have open communication, team work, and a mutual respect among employees and their supervisors.  Employees do not check their emotions at the door when they come to work.  Interactions with people in the workplace will involve emotions.  Managers who possess emotional intelligence can better understand and motivate the employees that they supervise.  Employees with higher emotional intelligence can overcome minor indifferences and focus on what needs to be achieved for the greater good of the team.

Human Resources can help create a more emotionally intelligent workforce by hiring employees who exhibit a high EI, by evaluating employees using EI criteria, integrate EI into performance management systems and offer training to improve emotional competence.  During the interview process, employers can look for certain traits such as:  People Skills, Self-Awareness, Empathy, Self-Management, and Motivation.

Emotionally aware staff can assimilate into the workplace with greater ease than those who are simply competent at their job.  Emotional Intelligence can strengthen organizational culture, increase resiliency and flexibility, ultimately leading to a greater competitive advantage in the market.  An emotionally intelligent organization where employees share strong connections and are able to work more effectively with each other should result in greater productivity.

Managers and business owners can’t let themselves lose sight of the fact that their employees are people, with real lives and emotions that impact how they think, feel, and act. Managers with emotional intelligence understand that their staff members are people first and workers second.  Incorporating emotional intelligence into your personal and organizational management philosophy may be the best way to retain key employees and help with overall organizational success.

WageWatch offers accurate, up-to-date HR metrics, benefit survey data, market compensation data and salary reports that will allow you to stay current with the times. This information is highly beneficial in creating the best salary and benefits packages that meet or rival the industry standards. The PeerMark™ Wage Survey is the only Web-based custom survey tool that allows individual survey participants to select their competitive set for comparison purposes.  Our experienced compensation consultants can assist with your organization’s compensation needs.  We can help you ensure internal equity and compliance with regulations as well as help you structure your compensation programs to support your company’s business strategy and objectives.   For more information on our services, including consulting, salary survey data, benefit survey data and market compensation reports, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

JOB ANALYSIS AND JOB EVALUATION PROCESSES

The Job Evaluation Process consists of a broad spectrum of activities which begins with Job Analysis Process.  Though two separate processes, Job Analysis data will be needed and used during the Job Evaluation process.  Job Analysis is a comprehensive process while Job Evaluation is a comparative process.  Job Analysis is done to develop a job description, while Job Evaluation is a systematic way of determining the value/worth of a job in relation to other jobs in an organization.  Complete scrutiny of jobs and their roles in the organization is done in both processes.

An organization undertakes the task of job analysis and evaluation for one or many purposes such as designing new organizational roles and jobs, aligning roles and pay to organizational changes, managing succession in an organization, reviewing existing pay structure, auditing legal compliance of pay policies or implementing benchmark pay structures.

During the Job Analysis process, an in-depth examination is performed to gather information about every minute detail of a job.  Information collected during the job analysis process will be used to write the job description.  You will need to collect data regarding the tasks performed by the job, the education and experience required, the working conditions, responsibilities and authorities, and the skills and abilities needed to perform the job.  Job data can be collected using an open-ended questionnaire, checklist, or by interviewing incumbents and/or supervisors.

Job Evaluation is the process of determining the importance of a particular job in relation to the other jobs of the organization.  Job Evaluation takes place early in the process of creating a salary structure for an organization.  Job factors such as skill, effort, and decision making authority are assigned a weight, or points, according to how much of that particular factor is present in the job.  This determines the relative worth of jobs and their respective position or grade in the salary structure.  Jobs with more worth are compensated more than jobs with lesser worth.  Ranking the jobs in order of worth after a thorough job evaluation creates a structure for the assignment of salary ranges.

Job Analysis and Job Evaluation are important to an organization to ensure a sound organizational structure, internal pay equity and external market competitiveness.  The data and analysis resulting from these two processes will be critical for other human resource processes such as recruitment and selection, training and development, performance appraisal, as well as various compensation processes.

WageWatch offers accurate, up-to-date HR metrics, benefit survey data, market compensation data and salary reports that will allow you to stay current with the times.  This information is highly beneficial in creating the best salary and benefits packages that meet or rival the industry standards.  The PeerMark™ Wage Survey is the only Web-based custom survey tool that allows individual survey participants to select their competitive set for comparison purposes.  Our experienced compensation consultants can assist with your organization’s compensation needs.  We can help you ensure internal equity and compliance with regulations as well as help you structure your compensation programs to support your company’s business strategy and objectives.  For more information on our services, including consulting, salary survey data, benefit survey data and market compensation reports, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

HUMAN RESOURCES ROLE IN MERGERS AND ACQUISITIONS

Mergers and acquisitions are extremely challenging and even chaotic events.  Therefore, it is critical that everyone involved has a clear understanding of their role in the process.  Mergers and acquisitions have become the norm in the business world and are often necessary for survival.  Almost every major company in the US today has or will experience a major acquisition.  There is a subtle yet distinct difference between a merger and an acquisition.  A merger is when two separate companies merge into one new entity.  An acquisition is when one company buys the assets of another company.  A merger or acquisition can be desired due to many different strategic reasons including positioning in the market, acquiring another company’s areas of strength or expertise, acquiring capital, diversification and short-term growth.  There are several phases or steps in the acquisition process and human resources will typically be involved in at least 2 to 3 of these phases, including the due diligence and investigation process and the post-merger integration process.

The human resource role in the due diligence and investigation process is to perform a thorough review of all human resource contracts, benefit plans, plan documents, systems, personnel, employment records, all forms of compensation, policies and procedures, especially related to human resource regulations that relate to all human resource disciplines including compensation, benefits, recruiting, employee relations, training and development, and payroll and HRIS.  Human Resources will help to determine the organizational structure and staffing models for the new organization.  Some other important items that fall under the Human Resources umbrella are wage and hour or other compliance claims, employment litigations, collective bargaining agreements, any FMLA, OSHA, Workers Compensation, EEOC and OFCCP compliance issues.

Transition issues need to be discovered and addressed, for example, pay levels between the two organizations may be very different and a cost analysis may be needed to determine the cost of bringing pay levels more in line between the two merging entities.  Other transition issues that often need to be addressed are transitioning pay increase and performance review cycles, differences between benefit levels in health care and retirement plans.  Most items will need to be addressed immediately, and some items can be completed during the first or second year following the merger or acquisition.  For example, if the acquisition occurs in the first quarter and your merit increases are done in January, you may be able to wait until the following January for this transition.  Conversely, it will be highly desirable to transition the acquired entity employees immediately to your health and welfare plans rather than take on the administrative burden and ownership risk of additional plans.

Human Resources is also responsible for layoffs, stay bonuses, culture differences, and synergies and will play a key role in the orientation and welcoming of the new employees.  These are just a few key items on the Human Resources Acquisition Checklist.  And each item has its own list of key points and issues that must be addressed.  While most of the transition work will happen prior to the closing date, the job of transitioning employees into your policies, pay models, practices, procedures, and culture does not end at transition date and typically continues for 2 to 3 years following the transition date and requires continued review at the management level.

Change can be challenging and demanding.  With over 5,000 properties in our lodging compensation database, 150 casinos, and 125 hospitals and clinics, we regularly see properties being acquired, divested, and rebranded. Consolidations are occurring at a rapid pace in the healthcare industry as well with hospitals buying physician groups and primary care practices. There are numerous human resources concerns to address every time a property changes hands. WageWatch consultants can guide you through the process of integrating two or more compensation models, rebalancing grades and ranges, examining internal equities between plan documents, developing a market-based approach to resolving inconsistencies, and helping you along the way with all your transition needs.  For more information on our services, including consulting, salary survey data, benefit survey data and market compensation reports, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

SALARY STRUCTURES: WHAT ARE THEY GOOD FOR?

Established salary structures aren’t mandatory.  There is no law that requires them, but they serve many useful purposes.  Having salary ranges in place can ensure that salary decisions, from new hires to promotions, are made with objective and consistent rules and parameters.  They provide at least a first line of defense against salary discrimination, intentional or otherwise, by ensuring that employees performing the same job are granted the same salary opportunity.  And formal salary ranges provide you with a tool for proactively managing and budgeting your salary dollars.

Salary structures help ensure that pay levels for groups of jobs are competitive externally and equitable internally.  A well-designed salary structure allows management to reward performance and skills development and control overall base salary cost by providing a cap on the range paid.

A salary structure enables employers to pay employees in a given position, consistently, for the work they do.  Salary ranges also offer flexibility enabling a company to pay higher in the range for an employee based on a greater level of education, experience or performance.  In the same way, it can potentially save on labor costs when hiring employees with limited backgrounds.

Having well documented and communicated salary ranges can minimize employees’ pay equity concerns and grievances.

A well-designed salary structure will help organizations:

  • Attract and retain suitable, qualified, and experienced employees
  • Build high morale with internal equity
  • Create more satisfied employees and thus reduce turnover
  • Minimize favoritism and bias
  • Provide a structure for career progression
  • Serve as a sound basis for collective bargaining and employee relations management

If the salary structure gets out of sync with the overall labor market, a company may find itself paying employees too much and needlessly increasing operating costs, or paying employees too little and having difficulty attracting and retaining talent.

A study of the current labor market will provide new information to determine whether the organization’s pay structure, policies and practices, job classifications and job titles are appropriate or needing adjustment.

WageWatch offers accurate, up-to-date HR metrics, benefit survey data, market compensation data and salary reports that will allow you to stay current with the times. This information is highly beneficial in creating the best salary and benefits packages that meet or rival the industry standards. The PeerMark™ Wage Survey is the only Web-based custom survey tool that allows individual survey participants to select their competitive set for comparison purposes.  Our experienced compensation consultants can assist with your organization’s compensation needs.  We can help you ensure internal equity and compliance with regulations as well as help you structure your compensation programs to support your company’s business strategy and objectives.   For more information on our services, including consulting, salary survey data, benefit survey data and market compensation reports, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

JOINT EMPLOYER LIABILITY

The use of sub-contractors, temporary staffing, leased employees and independent contractors can provide employers with quick temporary staffing and reduce benefits and payroll costs. However, the employer client can be considered a joint employer with the leasing or temporary agency when they share certain key employment terms such as the ability to hire, fire, or discipline workers, affect their compensation and benefits, and direct and supervise their performance.  When businesses use a temporary agency, leased, or contract workers, though the employer is the temporary help, leasing, or contracting company, the client business may be regarded as a joint employer under some laws.

The Family and Medical Leave Act have specific language regarding joint employer relationships. While the leasing or temporary help agency is the primary employer, the client company may be required to place the worker in the same or comparable position upon his or her return from FMLA leave.  Additionally, leased and temporary workers will count as employees of the client company for the purposes of determining whether a business is subject to the FMLA regulations.

In the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act (TEFRA) of 1982, leased and temporary workers are the client’s employees for the purposes of qualifying retirement plans and certain fringe benefits such as life insurance and cafeteria plans (does not apply to health insurance benefits), if the workers have been engaged with the client company on a full-time basis for a minimum of one year and the client company primarily controls or directs their work.

An employer can face a charge of discrimination under Title VII anti-discrimination legislation brought by an individual who worked for the employer under one of these leasing or sub-contractor relationships.

It has also come into question with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) whether leased and temporary workers must be included in collective bargaining agreements that cover the client’s regular employees.

Some states have passed legislation on joint employer liability as it pertains to workers’ compensation regulation.  New York ruled that the client is the common law employer of leased employees and is therefore primarily responsible for providing workers’ compensation benefits. To date, there have been no guidelines for joint employer status under OSHA or other health and safety regulations.

Employers need to be aware of and have guidelines regarding the degree of control they have over these temporary, leased and contract workers. The greater the degree of control, the greater the likelihood that the employer could be determined to be a joint employer.

At WageWatch our compensation consultants are focused on your organization’s compensation needs and ready to help you ensure that your compensation programs are supporting your company’s business strategy and objectives. WageWatch also offers accurate, up-to-date benefit surveys, salary surveys and pay practices data that will allow you to stay current with the times. This information is highly beneficial in creating the best salary and benefits packages that meet or rival the industry standards. For more information on our services, including consulting, salary survey data, benefit survey data and market compensation reports, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

MERIT BUDGET ALLOCATION

A primary goal of any compensation program is to motivate employees to perform at their best.  Most organizations have pay for performance at least in the form of a merit pay system.  An accurate, reliable and credible performance-appraisal program that is aligned with company goals, core values and industry best practices is the foundation of a successful merit pay program.  Performance measures should be tailored specifically for the organization and its jobs with clear outcomes that minimize bias and misinterpretation.  Consistency, manager training, effective communications and a periodic review are also essential for success.

The merit pay budget has two aspects to it:  1) determining the size of the budget and 2) allocating the budget to organizational units and its employees.  Determining the size of the budget will be based on competitive trends, the organization’s financial situation and other factors that may impact pay such as minimum wage and cost of living changes.  For the past several years merit budgets have been small and therefore it has been a challenge to adequately reward top performers as well as those that are rated ‘Good’ and ‘Average’.  Employees with performance ratings of ‘Good’ and ‘Average’ can be the largest percentage of employees and therefore the backbone of the workforce.  These employees should not be overlooked but raises for these employees often do not keep up with the cost of living.  Also the differentials between performance levels may not be large enough to motivate and retain employees.  These factors reduce the motivational potential of the merit pay program.

Using a merit increase matrix may help to maintain internal equity but may not properly reward top performers.  You want your reviewing managers to be engaged in the merit award process and to give appropriate thought and consideration to their pay decisions.  A certain amount of guidance and training is needed but the merit matrix can be too structured and rigid as well as make it too easy for reviewing managers to simply follow the formula rather than spend the time and effort for a thorough review.  Greater rewards for top performers and greater deviation of awards between good and average performers can be accomplished by providing zero increases to employees whose performance falls below average.  Providing broad increase guidelines in lieu of a matrix to your reviewing managers using factors such as performance rating, time in position, and position in salary range can eliminate the rigidity of the merit matrix and drive a more thoughtful approach to the merit award process.  Once tentative award amounts are determined, reviewing managers should perform an analysis of the awards looking at the whole department and at each individual award using these and other factors as well as any unique or special circumstances.

Annual pay increases not only help keep employees’ pay at market, providing awards that are accurately linked to performance are important in retaining employees, especially your best ones.  Compensation frequently emerges as a driver of retention, and when pay increases aren’t provided regularly and fairly, it will negatively impact job satisfaction.

At WageWatch our compensation consultants are focused on your organization’s compensation needs and ready to help you ensure that your compensation programs are supporting your company’s business strategy and objectives and that your pay practices are fair, equitable and non-discriminatory. We can provide your business with compensation surveys and salary reports to help you establish a budget for your merit pay program, including bonuses and incentives. Our innovative company is a leader in the collection of data for surveys and salary reports, which allows us to provide services to a wide range of industries in both the private and public sector. To learn more about our compensation surveys, salary reports, and other services please call 480-237-6130 or contact us online.