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Archive for February, 2017

HUMAN RESOURCES ROLE IN INNOVATION

How can human resources contribute to innovation?  How can we turn new ideas into reality, break old paradigms and step outside of the box with new solutions to old problems?  Innovation may begin with creativity but it is more than an idea — it takes place when great ideas come to fruition and make their mark in the world.  In the past, most businesses focused on continuous improvement of their products and services to maintain a competitive edge.  But in today’s economy, that’s not always enough.

As Human Resource professionals, we are fortunate to be responsible for many areas of an organization that frequently impact and contribute to innovation; including recruitment, performance management, recognition, rewards, training, and employee engagement.  Human Resources can also play a key role in creating an organizational structure and overall culture that fosters and supports innovation.

Recruiting can focus on hiring for innovation by identifying people who can “think outside the box” or have skills and capabilities that lend toward innovation.  Performance management can serve as a valuable tool in the creation of a sustainable culture of innovation.  Performance measures can give consideration as to whether or not employees are given the time and resources to experiment, generate and explore ideas, and make presentations to management.  Rewards can be used to reinforce the importance of innovation and recognition can be used to encourage and inspire employees to innovate and share ideas.   HR’s role in organizational design provides huge potential for enabling innovation.  For example, organizational design can be used to facilitate easier exchange of employees’ ideas across boundaries and functions.

An example of a human resource-driven innovation that used an out-of-the-box idea to improve the recruiting process is La Cantera Resort in San Antonio, TX, a Destination Hotel, they have incorporated an idea made popular by Disney, the Fast PASS. In Disney’s version, guests can avoid the line and use a Fast PASS to get a ticket to ride an attraction at a specified time with limited to no waiting. This helps improve the guest experience, improves wait times, improves communication and enhances the ability to meet the expectation of guests. At Destination Hotels, they have incorporated this concept into their recruitment practices. Special “FAST PASS” cards are given to managers who can spot people in their daily interactions (at grocery stores, restaurants, bars, the mall, etc…) providing exceptional customer service and invite them to consider an employment opening/opportunity with Destination. They can call a specific number and get a “prioritized/guaranteed” in person interview as opposed to filling out an application during certain hours and hoping to a chance to be considered. Like Disney, the approach at Destination Hotels improves the experience for the candidate and the HR function/hiring managers. It speeds up the ability to source the most qualified talent and create a match to open position needs at the resort. Destination competes on innovation.

While HR can have a significant impact on many of the key drivers of innovation, it is a collaborative process and requires many areas to come together in order to succeed.    Executive leaders hold the key to the level and success of innovation in their organization. They control the strategic direction, influence the culture, and directly and indirectly control all organizational practices.   Managers must know how to lead innovative teams, and individuals must know how to apply innovative thinking.  Every department or function must be part of the process.  For example, Information Technology has become an enabler of innovative ideas, but it is also often the starting point for innovative products or services and Finance has a unique opportunity through the budget development to add innovation either as a line in the overall budget or as a percentage of every departmental budget.

Organizations need to develop practices that make it easier to innovate.   For example, at the core of an organization’s  culture should be an acceptance of the need to experiment and understand that this comes with the risk of failure and that failure needs to be seen as a learning experience and an important step in the process.  Culture is definitely key to sustainable innovation.  The mindset and culture of the HR team have an exponential impact and influence on the entire organization.  HR leaders can help enable their organizations to differentiate themselves by understanding the critical importance of innovation today and how their role can contribute by attracting and keeping the most innovative people, constantly improving their skills and creating and enabling a culture of innovation.

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.

DRAMATIC CHANGES FOR PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT

Organizations are exploring some new and innovative performance management systems in an effort to truly inspire and motivate their teams with some encouraging results. Traditional performance management systems typically set goals related to the business plan, utilize performance appraisals that are too lengthy, redundant, hastily completed to meet deadlines, and often don’t allow employees any real input.  Many HR leaders believe that performance reviews yield inaccurate results due to biased approaches and misleading inputs.  Performance Appraisals are essentially a forced ranking system that can actually be very demotivating.

The traditional systems are beginning to shift to a more effective coaching system that focuses on employee achievement of measurable goals and objectives rather than formalized annual appraisal systems that primarily communicate one-way.  There are many examples of progressive companies that have replaced their traditional performance management systems with a culture of coaching, feedback, development, and high performance. Critical to success is that everyone in a leadership role is trained on how to coach and provide constant performance feedback, which in turn, engages employees and creates a desire to continuously improve.

The goal of managing performance is being replaced with a goal of obtaining the best possible sustainable performance under the current circumstances.   Key elements of this new paradigm include:

  • Simplify the Process:  Train managers on how to coach, give feedback and regularly check in with employees.  Focus on developing employees rather than evaluating and giving them a ‘rating’.  Ask questions that help target what the employee needs, such as, “What skills would you most like to improve on?” or “What can I do to help you?” Review employee progress more frequently making the process less intimidating and more sensitive.
  • Streamline, shorten or completely replace Performance Review forms:  Replace the forms with on-going coaching and feedback.  Feedback must be timely to be meaningful.
  • More agile, relevant, frequent and transparent goal management:  Include employees in the discussion of key performance objectives, ensuring they understand the reasons for the goals and can see how they are linked to organizational goals.  Utilize more short term goals that are easier for employees to derive meaning from what they do every day.  Create achievable goals and regularly monitor employee progress.
  • Address career goals and future training needs:  Include a system that supports follow-up and delivery of the training and career opportunities.  Create a culture where managers can delegate without feeling threatened, knowing they also have opportunity and training for the next career advancement.
  • Eliminate direct correlation between performance rating and compensation:  Make pay adjustments based on a combination of elements such as performance, customer and business impact, skill scarcity and the competitive nature of employees’ positions.

Employees want to perform at their best.  They want to understand the goals and to be motivated.  They want to contribute, be supported, to learn and to have fun.  Management and leaders need to create the conditions needed for a great performance to take place and for business to flourish.  The ideal process for managing performance is one that successfully motivates and supports staff to contribute to the achievement of the goals and objectives of the organization.  A culture that encourages on-going communication and coaching between managers and their employees has many benefits and advantages over traditional Performance Management.

Change can be challenging and demanding.  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 survey data, market compensation data and salary surveys 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.

PAY COMPRESSION: CAUSES AND SOLUTIONS

Pay compression is when either a subordinate’s base pay is very close to or more than their supervisor’s or when a less tenured employee is equal to or paid more than a senior employee in the same position.  One of the most common causes of pay compression is when pay increases for current employees are low, but new employees are paid a higher salary to attract them.  This problem becomes more severe in economic downturns when pay increases are limited but it occurs even in better economic times.  Pay compression is most evident in pay systems where lower level jobs, either through union contracts or other market forces, create a situation where first-line supervisors are paid less, on an hourly basis, than their subordinates.

When the job market is weak, many organizations hire people who had already done the same work for another organization, eliminating the need for training. Rather than hiring people with high potential and developing them for the long term, they have opted for people who can “hit the ground running,” regardless of their potential.

When salary compression and the policies that enable it are sustained over several years, it can be demoralizing and lead to widespread employee dissatisfaction. Employers should be concerned because salary compression can transform compensation from a motivator into a de-motivator.

Salary compression may be accompanied by pay inequities which could violate equal pay regulations. In situations where newer staff earn more than experienced staff, it could create a pay equity problem if the experienced staff are a protected class.

There are steps that can limit the detrimental effects of salary compression. For instance, when a new job opens, organizations should try to promote someone from within, rather than hiring from the outside. Many organizations have policies that limit how high within a range new hires can be paid.  When new hires are brought in at higher salaries or when across the board increases are given due to market movement or minimum wage increase, have a policy that requires internal equity analysis and adjustments.

Institute a policy of transparency and calibration across units.   Disparate actions between different organizational units can create salary compression and other inequities. Transparency can take the form of a simple scorecard showing the rates of increases and promotions in each unit. Calibration can involve managers sharing planned compensation actions with their peer managers. It can also include several levels of approval for any actions before they take place so that a senior leader can spot any actions that appear suspect and will cause inequities, including compression.  This tends to create a norm and, over time, leads to decisions that are more consistent and responsible.

Salary compression can be a serious problem that eventually causes an organization to lose some of its most talented employees. Although many organizations have unintentionally allowed salary compression to take root, there are actions they can take now and in the future to keep it from reoccurring.

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.

HOW TO DETERMINE NEW HIRE SALARIES

Without established salary ranges and salary structure, setting a salary can be like spinning the roulette wheel.  Most companies have salary offer guidelines based on competitor market data and established salary ranges for positions.  Ideally, you will have these established tools and practices in place before you have to make a salary offer.  Salary scales are a valuable tool in recruiting and hiring new employees as well as providing baseline amounts in making salary adjustments for existing employees.

There are many things to consider when determining where to set a salary for a new hire including the candidate’s experience and qualifications that are either required or needed for the job, current salaries of employees in the same or comparable worth jobs, salary range, geography, industry conventions and company budget.  Other considerations may be bargaining agreements, prevailing wage contracts or arrangements, and the company’s compensation philosophy.

To determine accurate external wage comparisons, employers should carefully define the appropriate market and competitive set.  Defining the market too narrowly can result in wages that are higher than necessary. Conversely, defining the market too broadly may cause an organization to set wages too low to attract and retain competent employees. Paying prevailing wages can also be considered a moral obligation.  This focus on external competitiveness enables a company to develop compensation structures and programs that are competitive with other companies in appropriate labor markets.  Employee perceptions of equity and inequity are equally important and should be carefully considered when a company sets compensation objectives. Employees who perceive equitable pay treatment may be more motivated to perform better or to support a company’s goals.

Internal equity is of equal importance to external competitiveness when setting pay.  You want employees to feel they are paid fairly as compared to their co-workers as well as to adhere to regulations regarding pay discrimination.  If starting salaries are negotiated, ensure that such a practice does not have an adverse impact on women or minority workers.  Generally, jobs do not have to be identical for equal pay to be required, only substantially equal in terms of skill, effort, and job responsibility, and performed under similar working conditions. For discriminatory purposes, pay refers to salary, overtime, bonuses, vacation and holiday pay, and all other benefits and compensation of any kind paid to employees.  Pay disparities may be allowed under a seniority system, a merit system or a system measuring earnings by quality or quantity of production.  Hardly anyone notices when you pay “above average” compared to the outside world, but any perceived deficiency in “internal equity” can come back to bite you.

As you can see there are many factors and considerations when setting pay and it can sometimes feel like a delicate balancing act.  But doing your homework, keeping up with the external market and addressing internal pay inequities will go a long way to simplifying the task of setting new hire salaries.  It is important to ensure that the approach taken is guided by the compensation philosophy and is applied consistently. An effective Salary Administration Program allows a company to meet the basic objectives of compensation:  focus, attract, retain, and motivate.

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.