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Archive for March, 2013

Are You Attracting Top Talent?

Many business owners find it to be a huge challenge to attract and retain a group of talented and hardworking employees that are loyal to the company and its mission. Finding high caliber employees with advanced skills to complete important jobs within a company is a challenge that not only exists in today’s marketplace, but one that business owners have had to navigate for years. Everyone is looking for top talent, and those companies that excel in attracting and retaining this talent are the ones that will reap the rewards. In addition to a number of other factors, businesses that best retain employees offer great compensation and benefits packages through data from 2013 healthcare compensation surveys, 2013 casino compensation surveys or compensation surveys for another specific industry.

To retain talent, it is essential that loyalty is established. In order to do this, the employee must feel that their job is instrumental in achieving the goals of the company, making them excited to come into work each day and give it their all. It is also important that the work the employee puts in is acknowledged, affirming their place within the company, and offering them opportunities for growth.

While compensation and benefits packages are one of the largest factors considered by employees, it isn’t enough to make top talent to stay. The following are a few ways that you can attract and retain the best employees at your company:

  • Promote open communication. When a company is completely open with employees, everyone will feel respected. Instead of allowing rumors to spread, let your employees know as soon as possible about anything that is going on in regards to the company. When possible, let your employees be a part of the decision making process. A culture of open communication is very attractive to employees.

  • Provide opportunities for team building. Most employees enjoy interacting with their coworkers. By encouraging team work, employees are able to build great working relationships and establish a trusting, open environment for the company. When working together toward a common goal, employees are more motivated and excited about their jobs, often producing excellent results.

  • Cater to individual work style. Each employee has a different way that they prefer to work, learn and be managed. When you as an employer take the time and effort to make adjustments for each employee’s needs, they will respect the company more and loyalty will, once again, be built. This will also help you to establish teams that will work best together based on their work styles.

  • Acknowledge your talent. When an employee does a good job, it is important that you recognize them for their efforts, so they feel that they are a valued member of the team. A majority of employees leaving a company do so because they feel unappreciated. Employees want to feel that the work they are doing is making a difference, so acknowledging their work often is essential. Also, review surveys for 2013 healthcare compensation, 2013 casino compensation and other market compensation data surveys for your industry to determine what benefits and bonuses you should be rewarding your employees with.

Implementing the above suggestions will help your company to build a culture that encourages retention of employees, which in turn will attract top talent. In addition to providing a great work environment that respects employees and provides opportunities for learning and growth, it is also important that they receive a solid benefits package. At WageWatch, we provide accurate data for 2013 healthcare compensation, 2013 casino compensation and compensation information for a wide variety of other industries. To learn more about our up-to-date market compensation data, such as 2013 healthcare compensation surveys or university benefits surveys, call 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

Las Vegas Casino Operators Plan Pay Raises in 2013

For the first time since the recession ended in 2009, Las Vegas casino and resort properties are planning on across the board pay raises for both exempt and non-exempt employees. WageWatch surveyed 49 Las Vegas casinos and resorts encompassing over 42,000 employees on and off the Strip last December and early January 2013 to determine the planned hourly and salary pay increases for this year.

Las Vegas casinos on the Strip reported planned wage increases for hourly and non-exempt salaried employees averaging 2.2% and 2.5% for exempt salaried employees.  The median was 2.25% for both exempt and non-exempt jobs. Similarly, casinos off the Strip in North Las Vegas, Summerlin and Henderson are planning pay raises slightly less than Strip properties with average pay raises of 1.7% for non-exempt and 1.8% for exempt positions. The median was 2.0% for both non-exempt and exempt positions.

Randy Pullen, President and CEO of WageWatch stated, “We can definitely see that market conditions are beginning to turn positive in Las Vegas.” Average daily rates and occupancies in Las

Vegas remain well below their peaks of $132.09 and 90.4% in 2007, but increased in 2012 for the third year in a row reaching $91.21 and 84.4%.  Randy Pullen also stated, “These increases occurred in spite of adding 17,500 new hotel rooms in Las Vegas, a 13.2% increase in the room count since 2008.” The following chart recaps the market performance since 2007 as reported by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

The number of rooms sold in Las Vegas last year reached 46,480,000 in 2012 a new high, exceeding the 2007 peak of 43,979,000. Randy Pullen cautioned, “While the market performance for the Las Vegas lodging segment is looking strong for 2013, leisure and hospitality employment as reported by the Federal Reserve for 2012 in Nevada continues to lag by almost 5% behind the 2007 employment peak.” Unemployment in Las Vegas and Nevada remain high at 10.4% and 10.2%, respectively. Casino and resort management appear to remain cautious, keeping an eye on the slow economic recovery the U.S. is experiencing.

Randy Pullen further cautioned, “While gaming companies are planning on substantial pay raises for 2013, it is likely that actual wage increases that will be reported later this year by WageWatch in its 2013 gaming salary survey will be closer to half those planned.  We saw this pattern in 2012 where actual increases came in at less than half those planned.”

Looking ahead to 2013, most leading economists are forecasting continued slow but steady growth of the U.S. economy in the range of 2.0% or better. Expectations are for slow growth the first half of 2013 with possible stronger economic growth the second half of the year. If the economy continues to improve through the second and third quarters of 2013, something it has not managed to do in any of the last three years, Las Vegas casino operators could begin to grow more confident, which would lead to pay raises for casino employees being closer to plan.

WageWatch, Inc. is the leading compensation survey provider for the lodging and gaming industries with 6,000 properties participating in its PeerMark™ Wage survey. WageWatch also conducts compensation surveys for the healthcare, staffing and non-profit industries. The PeerMark™ Wage Survey is the only Web-based custom survey tool that allows individual survey participants to select their competitive set of properties for comparison purposes.

Posted in Uncategorized on March 21st, 2013 · Comments Off on Las Vegas Casino Operators Plan Pay Raises in 2013

Hoteliers Face Complex Union Negotiations

(This column recently appeared in Hotel News Now where Randall Pullen is a columnist for their on-line publication)

I attended the annual Hospitality Law Conference recently concluded at the Houston Omni Hotel.  Besides meeting with many of the leading labor attorneys across the country, it is an opportunity to learn about the latest legal issues and rulings that are affecting hotel human resources and labor markets.  This year was no different; there are a lot of new developments that are or will impact the hospitality industry now and in the near future.

It would take several columns to just deal with the many unknowns of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act also known as Obama Care, or the proposed changes to the immigration laws that are now being discussed in Congress, or with the many labor union contract negotiations scheduled to occur in 2013. While all three of these issues are very important to the Hospitality industry, I am going to focus on the upcoming negotiations between hotel companies and the labor union, UNITE HERE. There is much that can be learned from the last round of negotiations to prepare for this new round of union contract negotiations.

UNITE HERE represents the most hotel workers of any union with over 100,000 hotel workers in almost 1,000 hotels across the country.  The union currently has contracts with several of the major hotel companies that expire later this year.  The negotiations for the current contracts started in 2009 when the prior contracts expired, and were not signed until last year. The negotiations were contentious and drawn out due to many of the contracts expiring during the great recession. Management companies were looking for wage freezes, longer work hours as well as employees picking up a portion of the healthcare premium costs. Now, a year later the process will start all over.

In the prior negotiations, UNITE HERE made several changes in the tactics it used. The most notable was negotiating on a regional or national level with individual hotel companies instead of using the multi-employer model market by market previously used.  Once they achieved a concession from one employer, they would use it in negotiations with the other companies to accept a similar concession. Although carrying on multiple negotiations at one time made it more complex, the tactic appeared to work as they played management companies off against each other as well as in individual markets.

Also notable in several current contracts is the requirement that a successor company purchasing the hotel must honor the existing contract with the union.  This clause was added due to the many sales of hotels over the last 5 years where the contracts with the unions were ended and employees were rehired without a contract.  This expanded interpretation of succession was approved by the NLRB, which is quite different to how succession is typically determined. There have already been a number of hotel sales that have been cancelled due to this requirement.

Going forward this year, we will see a number of new tactics as well as some that were tried in the last round and will likely be front and center this time. Management companies successfully used poor financial performance as a tactic, which will not be available this time.  The strong recovery of the hotel industry with record occupancies and continued strong financial performance forecasted for 2013 and 2014 generally will preclude such a defense, even though RevPAR still lags.  For those markets not recovering as quickly as the major markets, hotel companies that make this argument will likely have to produce financial statements for all affiliated companies to prove there is a financial hardship.

We have already begun to see the counter arguments being made by the unions.  They are claiming that hotel companies have recovered and are making record profits.  The only ones left out of the recovery are the workers. A good example of this tactic is what occurred in Seattle last April.  In a report issued by SAGE (a union supported non-profit), Seattle Hotels Do Not Pay a Living Wage, they claimed that many hotel workers in downtown Seattle did not earn a living wage, had no benefits and a housekeeper’s job was more dangerous than working in a coal mine. Of course none of these claims were true, but it became a national news story. The AH&LA, with the help of WageWatch, was able to refute all of these claims.  No doubt, we will see this played out again and again this year and next as negotiations drag on into 2014.

UNITE HERE will intensify its efforts to negotiate one-on-one with management companies. The example they have made of Hyatt Hotels over the past 2 years is what awaits other management companies who refuse a union contract for all their hotels.  Flash mobs (Lady Gaga Flash Mob), boycotts (Hyatt Hurts) and employee lawsuits brought against individual hotels (Hyatt Settles Complaint) with the backing of the NLRB await those who don’t play ball.

Labor lawyers also believe a number of other provisions will become more mainstream in negotiations including: expanded successor language to require new owners to honor existing union contracts; more limitations on subcontracting of services including such things as prepackaged food, wedding cakes, arguing that such purchases equate to subcontracting culinary services; extended length of contract to 7 years; and significant wage increases to “catch-up” with wage freezes implemented during the recession.

Looking ahead, hotel companies will face an entirely new bargaining landscape in union negotiations this time around. Some of the lessons learned from the prior contract negotiations will likely shape the new negotiations, bargaining goals, concessions, and tactics employed. As more unions move toward the UNITE HERE model of nationally-focused bargaining strategies, employers that operate in multiple markets will be forced to take a “big picture” approach to their negotiations as well as to unique circumstances in individual markets. Smaller hotel companies that operate in a few markets or in a single market will be forced into accepting provisions negotiated with the major hotel companies or face the consequences.


Randall Pullen is President and CEO of WageWatch, Inc., which he founded in 1999 to design and implement Web-based wage and benefit surveys. Mr. Pullen’s work experience includes over 30 years of software development and consulting to the hotel industry. Mr. Pullen is a certified public accountant and a member of the AICPA. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in mathematics and an MBA from Arizona State University. He serves on the boards of a number of companies and associations, and is currently the Treasurer of the Arizona Housing Finance Authority.

The opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of HotelNewsNow.com or its parent company, STR and its affiliated companies. Columnists published on this site are given the freedom to express views that may be controversial, but our goal is to provoke thought and constructive discussion within our reader community. Please feel free to comment or contact an editor with any questions or concerns.

Copyright © 2004-2011 Smith Travel Research /DBA HotelNewsNow.com (HNN). All Rights Reserved.

The Paycheck Fairness Act: Are you ready for this?

“Giving women my Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act without the Paycheck Fairness Act is like giving them a nail without a hammer.”  Lilly Ledbetter (AAUW.org) 1/28/13

If you don’t already have the compensation structures, policies and administrative processes in place to ensure fair and equitable pay within your organization, this may be a good time to do so.  The Paycheck Fairness Act (PFA), which has been rejected twice by the United States Congress, was reintroduced by Senator Mikulski & Representative DeLauro earlier this year.  Additionally, in his recent inaugural speech, President Obama highlighted equal pay for women as a priority for this next term.  The PFA, if passed, would close ‘loopholes’ in the historic 1963 Equal Pay Act (EPA) and build upon The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act which was signed by Obama four years ago.  The Lilly Ledbetter Act most significantly stated that the 180-day statute of limitations for filing an equal-pay lawsuit regarding pay discrimination resets with each new paycheck affected by that discriminatory action.

The PFA’s objective is to further narrow the pay gap between men and women by limiting employer defenses and removing the caps on punitive and compensatory damages from pay discrimination lawsuits.  The Paycheck Fairness Act would apply to all businesses that must comply with the FLSA and would have widespread implications for businesses and their employees.  The PFA would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 and the Equal Pay Act of 1963 in the following ways:

  1. Broadens the definition of the term “establishment” from the same job site to any location owned by the same firm within the same county.  The new definition would no longer permit pay differentials on the basis of different working conditions.  For example, the PFA would no longer permit pay differentials for employees doing the same work in different locations owned by the same fast food establishment within a county.  Currently, pay differentials may be permitted for reasons such as the different competitive markets in each location.
  2. Only wage differentials that can be proved to be caused by something other than gender, truly related to job performance and consistent with “business necessity” will be defensible.
  3. Includes all female workers within an establishment in class-action lawsuits, unless they specifically opt out.
  4. Lifts the cap on punitive and compensatory damages and leaves it up to the courts to decide what appropriate damages are.
  5. Protects employees who discuss, or disclose their wages with another employee.
  6. Authorizes subsequent regulations that require employers to collect and report pay information data on their employees’ sex, race, and national origin.
  7. Creates a new grant program for training girls and women how to negotiate.

The PFA, if passed has the potential for numerous new lawsuits exposing employers to far greater liability.  It is critical for employers to continually manage and monitor their compensation practices.  Managing internal and external equity is a dynamic process requiring human resources to remain vigilant on changes in market conditions and business demands. HR must also continually ensure internal compensation structures, policies and administrative practices are achieving their intended goals.  The WageWatch Compensation Consulting Team is available to conduct internal equity audits to address employer concerns and add creditability to pay practices.  Additionally, the WageWatch PeerMark ™ Salary Survey reports the most current data available which forms the basis of the external analysis. To learn more about our compensation surveys, salary reports and other market compensation data, please call 888-330-9243 or contact us online.