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Archive for November, 2013

Not All Salary Surveys are Created Equal

With traditional annual salary surveys, the process of data collection starts when the survey opens. The opening is followed by a window of time that is typically two to four months, and sometimes as long as six months. This survey window depends on the industry and number of positions surveyed, for which survey participants would report their payroll data for incumbents. At the end of the collection period, the survey closes and no additional survey participation can occur until the following year when the survey cycle is completed and the survey reopens. The date the survey closes to participation is referred to as the survey’s effective date.

Once the survey closes, the wage data is manually cleaned, analyzed, and the findings formatted into a compensation benchmark report. Building the report in this manner can take an additional two to three months and for some compensation surveys up to six months. Once the report is complete, it is made available to participants and is on sale until next year’s compensation report is published.

The traditional annual compensation survey, by design, reports last year’s data. Compensation professionals know the value of using the most update-to-date market data available to conduct their benchmarking and wage analysis.  WageWatch has responded to this need with salary surveys and benefit surveys that collect and report the most current data – never last year’s data. HR directors and compensation managers know the effective date for each participant. This approach creates a survey platform that is dynamic, never closes, and reports the most current market data available.

WageWatch uses the next generation methodology based on a 365-day subscription period that allows participants to continually update data and report findings during the year. WageWatch defines the effective date as the date on which wages are internally updated in an organization’s payroll system. WageWatch’s survey platform is dynamic and not static as are traditional annual salary surveys. While Wagewatch does have a close date for its compensation surveys, which would normally be referred to as the effective date in a traditional survey, this is a soft close date.

Because our surveys are dynamic compensation surveys, we continue to accept participants’ wage data after the close date of the survey.  Users can subscribe after the soft close date, enter their data and create their own custom reports all in the same day.  WageWatch reports allow you to select an entire market to compare your in house salary data, or you can select as few as five competitors you select to compare your salary data. This report is known as the WageWatch PeerMark™ Survey report.

WageWatch salary surveys provide data tools and report statistics for analysts of all experience levels. Please contact WageWatch if you need assistance with interpretation the statistics reported, help building custom reports, or have a need for our wide range of consulting services. For more information on our services and surveys please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online .

Posted in Uncategorized on November 27th, 2013 · Comments Off on Not All Salary Surveys are Created Equal

Blended Overtime Rate in Hospitality

HR knows that employers must pay an overtime premium of 1.5 times base pay to non-exempt employees who work in excess of 40 hours in a workweek. This calculation is complicated in the hospitality industry due to the use of the common utilization of the tip credit to the federal minimum wage and prevalence of multi-job employees.

Many hoteliers have employees that operate in two or more job functions. This could an employee who is a housekeeper during the first shift and a maintenance technician in the second shift, for example. In the hospitality industry, all hours worked for the same employer, which is defined as the management company and not simply the specific hotel property, must be added together to determine if total hours work exceed 40 hours in the workweek.

If the base rates of the two or more jobs are the same, the overtime calculation is straight forward it is simply 1.5 times the base rate. If the base rates of the two or more jobs are different, then the employer needs to blend the base rates to recreate a new regular rate of play before applying the 1.5 overtime multiplier.

Here is an example of calculating the blended overtime rate for an employee who works in two jobs at two different hourly rates.

Job 1: Housekeeper: $12.50 per hour

Job 2: Maintenance Tech: $16.50 per hour

For the week in question, this employee worked 25 hours as a housekeeper and 20 hours as a Maintenance Tech. With 45 total hours in the week, this employee is eligible for 5 hours of overtime premium pay. What question is how do we calculate the blended regular rate of pay and arrive at the weekly total earnings?

Housekeeper  = $12.50/hr x 25 Hours = $312.50 straight-time earnings

Maintenance Tech  = $16.50/hr x 20 Hours = $330.00 straight-time earnings

$312.50 + $330.00 = $642.50 total straight-time earnings

$642.50 total earnings / 45 hours for the week = $14.28 blended regular rate of pay

Remember, the straight-time earnings have already been calculated for all hours worked, so the additional amount to be calculated for each overtime hour worked is one –half the regular rate.

$14.28 regular rate x 0.5 half x 5 overtime hours  = $35.70 additional half-time pay

Adding the straight-time earnings with the additional half-time pay comes out to our total pay with overtime premium.

$642.50 + $35.70 = 678.20 total pay with overtime

WageWatch salary surveys provide data tools and report statistics for analysts of all experience levels. Please contact WageWatch if you need assistance with interpretation the statistics reported, help building custom reports, or have a need for our wide range of consulting services. For more information on our services and surveys please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online .

Posted in Uncategorized on November 21st, 2013 · Comments Off on Blended Overtime Rate in Hospitality

Can Salary Motivate Employees?

Studies have shown that salary can just as easily de-motivate employees as motivate them.   In fact, salaries generally operate as negative reinforcement rather than positive.   For example, an employee receiving a lower than expected merit increase or bonus payment can certainly de-motivate.  On the flip side, receiving the status quo merit increase or bonus amount every year can create an entitlement mentality.  However, when it comes to motivating employees, salary is always one of the top factors, and therefore, it has to be part of your total rewards strategy.  Many believe that the amount of money that is needed is at least enough to satisfy basic needs which vary by person.  Obviously, when salary does not, at a minimum, cover essential needs, this serves to de-motivate.

In our blog Compensation: Beyond the Paycheck published 10/31/13, we discussed non-monetary rewards and benefits that aid in employee motivation.  In this article we will focus on monetary rewards. Motivated employees make a difference to the workplace.  They affect the working environment positively as well as improve customer service, sales or production.  So, how can you determine if the salaries you are paying are motivating your workforce?

First, determine where to focus your compensation spending plan.  This can vary depending on factors such as the current economy, the competitive environment, and where the company is in its life-cycle.  For example a growing company with variable sales and income, may be better off focusing on base salaries.  When business is good, it may be prudent to tie more bonus dollars to goals achieved.

Second, do your research, know your competition.  Every organization can benefit from reputable industry salary surveys such as the WageWatch PeerMark™ and Benchmark reports, to determine competitive salaries.  You should utilize salary survey data from the local market, your industry and from organizations of similar size.  Work within your organization’s salary philosophy and the given financial situation to determine where to set salaries.

In addition to looking externally to market competition, look internally to ensure your internal pay structure and salaries are fair and equitable.  Whether you like it or not, employees will discuss pay with one another.  Ensure fair and equitable pay levels between employees in the same jobs, in the same departments, and jobs of comparable worth within your organization. Formal salary ranges within the organization where people with similar responsibilities and authority are grouped into the same salary range help to maintain internal equity.   Set clear goals for what you want to achieve by setting salaries at certain levels.  For example, you may pay an entry level manager less than market if you are hiring inexperience and providing a training and growth opportunity in exchange.  Open and clear communication regarding the company’s salary structure and pay philosophy can aid in employees’ understanding of the methods used in determining their salary level and assist in demonstrating fairness and equity.

Merit pay is one of the most frequently used methods to drive employee performance.  To be effective it needs to be linked to performance in a manner that is consistent with the mission of the organization.  Merit increases can become de-motivating when your performance measurement system is flawed and/or inconsistently applied or when the merit increase amount that is linked to performance is inconsistently administered.  Also with merit increases typically averaging 2 to 3 percent, studies show that increases lower than 7% are unlikely to have any impact on employee performance.  What can help is applying behavioral principles to your pay for performance program such as giving employees a personal stake in the success of the company by showing a clear link between their efforts and results.  Many companies base their compensation plan on time and not results. Of course, time is a factor and needs to be part of the equation. However, if you pay for results, you will get results.

A well planned salary and total rewards package will motivate your employees, help your company maintain a competitive advantage and help retain key employees.  At WageWatch our compensation consultants can assist with your organization’s compensation needs and 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 .

Posted in Uncategorized on November 13th, 2013 · Comments Off on Can Salary Motivate Employees?

FLSA Salary Basis Test

The application and rules for the federal FLSA salary basis test are often misunderstood and not administered accurately or consistently.  During my human resource career I have seen mistakes made regarding this rule over and over again.

First let’s understand what the term “salary basis” means. An exempt employee that regularly receives a predetermined amount of base salary each workweek is paid on a “salary basis”.  This applies to employees who are determined to be exempt under the federal FLSA exemption tests including both the minimum salary test and qualifying under one of the duties tests (ie., administrative, executive, professional, computer, outside sales, etc.).  The minimum weekly salary that must be paid to ‘exempt’ employees under the federal rules is $455.  Please refer to your federal and state wage and hour for exceptions to the salary requirements.  The salary basis pay requirement for exempt status does not apply to some jobs (for example, doctors, lawyers and schoolteachers are exempt even if the employees are paid hourly).

Now let’s talk about the Salary Basis Test.  An employee’s ‘exempt’ status can be jeopardized if the salary basis test rules are not followed.  The Salary Basis test provides rules regarding what pay deductions can and cannot be made to exempt employees’ weekly base salary.  Generally the predetermined weekly salary cannot be reduced because of variations in the quality or quantity of the employee’s work. Except for a few permissible deductions, an exempt employee must receive the full base salary for any work week in which the employee performs any work, regardless of the number of days or hours worked. This includes any work done remotely such as checking email and voicemail.  An employer cannot make deductions from an employee’s predetermined base salary, because of a business slowdown or lack of available work.

The FLSA salary basis test applies only to reductions in monetary amounts. Requiring an employee to charge absences from work to leave accruals is not a reduction in “pay,” because the monetary amount of the employee’s paycheck remains the same.

Full Day deductions from pay are permissible when an exempt employee:

  • Is absent from work for one or more full days for personal reasons other than sickness or disability;
  • For absences of one or more full days due to sickness or disability if the deduction is made in accordance with a bona fide sick leave or PTO plan, policy or practice of providing compensation for salary lost due to illness;
  • To offset amounts employees receive as jury or witness fees, or for military pay;
  • For partial week worked during the initial or terminal week of employment,
  • For weeks in which an exempt employee takes unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act,
  • Deductions in pay are also permitted for intermittent FMLA leave when the weekly base salary is reduced to coincide exactly with the reduced workweek,
  • When an exempt performs no work for a full workweek.

For the following 2 permissible deductions, you should have communicated formal policy(s) detailing disciplinary procedures:

  • For penalties imposed in good faith for infractions of safety rules of major significance;
  • For unpaid disciplinary suspensions of one or more full days imposed in good faith for workplace conduct rule infractions.

It is important that as an employer, you have a clearly communicated policy permitting or prohibiting improper deductions from exempt employees’ base salary including a complaint mechanism and reimbursement to employees when improper deductions are made.  You should also have a clearly communicated policy for your exempt employees stating that under no circumstances should work be performed during unpaid time off.  The exempt status of your employees will be safe as long as you have clearly communicated policies in place, make good faith efforts to comply with the salary basis test and can show that willful violations have not been made.  For full details regarding federal FLSA, visit http://www.wagehour.dol.gov and links to your state labor department can be found at http://www.dol.gov/whd/contacts/state_of.htm.

WageWatch salary surveys provide data tools and report statistics for analysts of all experience levels. Please contact WageWatch if you need assistance with interpretation the statistics reported, help building custom reports, or have a need for our wide range of consulting services. For more information on our services and surveys please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online .

Posted in Uncategorized on November 6th, 2013 · Comments Off on FLSA Salary Basis Test