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Archive for March, 2017

KEY OBJECTIVES OF A COMPENSATION PROGRAM

Compensation can be defined as a reward earned by employees in return for their time, skills, effort, and knowledge.  Compensation includes direct financial compensation, such as:
Wages
Bonus and commissions
Indirect financial compensation such as health and welfare, retirement and leave benefits
Non-financial compensation such as job training and development
Recognition and advancement opportunities

A large percentage of the company budget is compensation, and therefore, it is a key component of the overall strategic human resource management plan.

A compensation package can include more than salary and bonus.  It can include health and welfare benefits, retirement plan, leave benefits and various other benefits and perks.  Companies that offer a mix of salary and incentives have the highest employee morale and productivity.  It is most effective to pay incentives as soon after goals are met as feasible such as monthly or quarterly incentive payments, rather than annual.  A good incentive plan should be easily understood by employees with no more than two to four performance factors.  How you train, develop and manage your employees will also drive retention and performance.

When developing your compensation program, primary objectives to consider are:

To attract the best people for the job
Retain high performers and lower turnover
Reward performance on specific objectives by compensating desired behaviors
Motivate employees to perform their best
Improve morale, job satisfaction, and company loyalty
Align with overall company strategy, goals and philosophy
Achieve internal and external equity
Comply with all pay and non-discrimination regulations

While compensation is not the only thing that motivates people, compensation that is too low will demotivate employees.  Studies have found a direct correlation between top performing companies and employees that are satisfied with their pay and benefits package.  Competitive and appropriate pay can positively impact customer service.  Employees receiving fair and competitive compensation packages are generally happier with their jobs and are more motivated to perform at their peak.  Motivated employees can add to the bottom line of the organization and contribute to growth and expansion. Studies show that motivated employees take fewer sick days and have fewer disability claims.

While there are many objectives to a successful compensation program, two key objectives are ensuring internal equity and ensuring external competitiveness.  Salary Surveys provide the necessary market data to build competitive pay structures.  Good Salary Survey data provides you with the information needed to ensure your compensation package is competitive.  Salary Surveys are an invaluable tool for the setting right compensation strategy and for following and monitoring the desired pay market.  It is important that you select the right salary and benefits surveys and market data for your employees based on where you are competing for talent in your industry and outside your industry as well as geographic location.

WageWatch offers 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. 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.

 

THE COMPENSATION MODEL

The compensation discipline seeks to maximize competitive advantage by attracting and retaining the most qualified workers to an employer.  Best practice in today’s workplace considers total compensation to include base salary, bonus or incentive plans, benefits, and non-cash compensation. A pay philosophy is a company’s commitment to how it values employees.

A consistent pay philosophy gives the company and the employee a frame of reference when discussing salary in a negotiation.  This usually requires a competitive well-rounded pay philosophy, including benefits and work life balance.  Compensation philosophies reap little reward without the knowledge and alignment to the organization’s overall business strategy.  Armed with the right information, compensation professionals can create a philosophy that will stimulate a more engaged workforce and lead to a higher-performing organization

A compensation system will price positions to market by using local, national and industry-specific survey data, will include survey data for more specialized positions and will address significant market differences due to geographical location.  The system will evaluate external equity to the competitive market and internal equity which is the relative worth of each job when comparing the required level of job competencies, formal training, experience, responsibility, and accountability of one job to another.  The system must be flexible enough to ensure that the company is able to recruit and retain a highly qualified workforce while providing the structure necessary to effectively manage the overall compensation program.

Organizations should establish and communicate clear pay policies. At a minimum, organizations need to ensure that their compensation policy adheres to employment legislation including:

Minimum wage

Overtime pay

Pay equity

Vacation pay

Holiday pay

Incentive pay

Tips and Gratuities

Pay method and pay frequency

Pay deductions

Payroll records tracking and reporting

Many organizations adopt transparency in compensation practices.  Transparency involves compensation plans that are simple to understand, easy to implement and published internally to all employees.  Many companies provide an annual Total Rewards Statement to each employee that outlines and explains all compensation elements included in their compensation package including cash and non-cash.

Bonus and incentive pay are tied to specific performance results against pre-set goals and objectives at the individual and organizational level. Results that are measured can be quantitative and qualitative. When establishing bonus schemes, organizations often apply a balanced scorecard approach: looking at financial, human resources and customer results.

A compensation model that encourages innovation should strike a balance between the risks and rewards associated with the work. Rewards programs can recognize innovation within all elements of a company and at all or the majority of employees.   When only the top 10% of high performers are eligible for recognition and associated rewards, approximately 70% of employees who fall in the middle of the performance bell curve and who are consistent performers day after day, can become discouraged and disengaged. The goal should be to properly calibrate your awards approach to reach far more employees with recognition rewards, thereby creating a culture of innovation.

Compensation is a part of the complex HR processes, policies, and procedures. Top management needs to decide, the primary role of compensation in the organization, whether it will be a supplementary role or a dominant role.  The compensation philosophy is the foundation for all organizational compensation decisions.

Maintaining a competitive advantage and being able to retain key employees is increasingly important.  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 .

RED FLAGS FOR ANTITRUST EMPLOYMENT PRACTICES

The Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced a new initiative to criminally investigate and prosecute employers who enter agreements with their competitors to limit or fix the terms of employment for potential hires.

The DOJ and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued guidance for Human Resources (HR) professionals that provides a deeper explanation of the relevant laws, potential violations, and best practices for avoiding liability.  Here is a link to the guidance that was issued October 2016: https://www.justice.gov/atr/file/903511/download

The following Red Flags” for HR professionals have been identified by the FTC and DOJ as examples of “Antitrust”.  These nine red flags are indicative of what types of agreements or information exchanges may violate the regulations.  This is not an all-inclusive list nor does the presence of a red flag automatically indicate an antitrust violation.

  1. Agree with another company about employee salary or other terms of compensation, either at a specific level or within a range.
  2. Agree with another company to refuse to solicit or hire that other company’s employees.
  3. Agree with another company about employee benefits.
  4. Agree with another company on other terms of employment.
  5. Express to competitors that you should not compete too aggressively for employees.
  6. Exchange company-specific information about employee compensation or terms of employment with another company.
  7. Participate in a meeting, such as a trade association meeting, where the above topics are discussed.
  8. Discuss the above topics with colleagues at other companies, including during social events or in other non-professional settings.
  9. Receive documents that contain another company’s internal data about employee compensation.

In the Guidance, HR employees have been specifically identified as individuals in positions of authority with respect to hiring and compensation decisions and so will need to lead the charge to ensure that their company is not the target of an investigation.

The DOJ’s and FTC’s Guidance provides certain boundaries for common HR practices like benchmarking and participation in compensation surveys to determine whether companies are paying competitive compensation packages to their employees. HR professionals should follow this previously issued detailed guidance on how best to exchange compensation information for benchmarking purposes in an antitrust compliant way. See Statement 6, Provider Participation in Exchanges of Price and Cost Information, United States Dep’t of Justice and Federal Trade Commission, Statements of Antitrust Enforcement Policy in Health Care (Aug. 1996).

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.

WHEN TO EMPLOY SHORT-TERM AND LONG-TERM INCENTIVES

An employee compensation plan should provide a competitive wage and reward employees fairly and equitably for behaviors while accomplishing goals and objectives for the organization. Compensation is the reward an employee receives in return for his or her contribution to the organization.  Basic components of a compensation package include base salary, incentives, and benefits.

Organizations implement incentive plans to help reach overall goals and objectives.  Incentive plans range from variable pay plans to prizes and recognition awards.   Incentive plans can motivate employees to go beyond expectations and produce results that contribute to business success.  They also can attract new talent and encourage company loyalty.  For an incentive plan to be effective, the goals must be obtainable.

So how do you determine whether a short-term or long-term incentive is appropriate?  Short-term incentives are used to create the focus on short-term or immediate goals, and align rewards with individual and business performance.  Long-term incentives are typically designed for executives who make strategic decisions for the company.  They can ensure focus on what’s best for the organization’s future outcomes by placing importance on medium and/or long-term goals and creating a sense of ownership of those goals.  Successful incentive plans can also help organizations align rewards with shareholder interests, and help retain key talent.

Short-term incentives can be for all employee levels from entry level to middle management to the executive level and they can be big or small and can cover a week, month, quarter or year of performance measurements and goals.  Short term incentives can create a better work environment and motivate employees to work to their greatest potential.  Without short-term incentives, employees may feel that their work is unappreciated and morale can be low.  Short-term incentives align employees work with the overall success of the company and can clearly define an employee’s specific role in contributing to that success.  Short-term incentives such as prizes, free airline tickets or hotel stays, tickets to events or a paid day off can have high impact.  Short-term incentives can be individual and/or team based.  Rewarding employees for clearly defined goals can go a long way to creating happy employees who work well alone and together striving for success.

It is important to use both the short and the long-term initiatives to produce desired results. Incentive programs that are carefully and strategically crafted and aligned with company goals and timeframes should lead to more productive, motivated and loyal team members.  Retaining good employees saves organizations the expense of recruiting and training new workers.

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.

NEW GUIDANCE ISSUED ON FEDERAL ANTITRUST REGULATIONS

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued joint guidance on Oct. 20, 2016, https://www.ftc.gov/system/files/documents/public_statements/992623/ftc-doj_hr_guidance_final_10-20-16.pdf, on how Antitrust Law applies to employee hiring practices and compensation decisions.  The guidance focuses on managers and human resource (HR) professionals who are normally responsible for regulatory compliance and can, therefore, implement safeguards.  In addition, the guidance announces a significant shift in the DOJ’s enforcement policies stating that the DOJ intends to proceed criminally against “naked wage-fixing and no-poaching agreements”.  The agencies underscored the fact that violators could be pursued both civilly and criminally. The new guidance makes it clear that DOJ and FTC will look suspiciously at employers sharing information regarding terms and conditions of employment — such as industry wage surveys.

As part of their guidance, the DOJ and FTC issued what they called Antitrust Red Flags for Employment Practices. The link to these nine Red Flags is https://www.ftc.gov/system/files/documents/public_statements/992623/ftc-doj_hr_red_flags.pdf. The list is a starting point for what they will be looking for and is not exhaustive of possible indications of antitrust violations. They note that if you notice these red flags or other suspicious behavior and believe that there may have been an antitrust violation, they encourage you to report it to the DOJ and FTC.

The DOJ and FTC caution employers about sharing compensation information with competitors. While not per se illegal (like wage-fixing and no-poaching agreements), the agencies note that such information-sharing such as salary and benefits surveys conducted by industry associations and trade groups could be suspicious.  The guidance directs HR professionals to avoid sharing competitively sensitive information with competitors.  Evidence of exchanges of wage information such as discussion of compensation levels or policies at industry meetings or events could be sufficient to establish an antitrust violation.  Exchanges are permissible in certain circumstances (i.e., it may be appropriate for a company to obtain competitively sensitive information in the course of M&A due diligence), but only if suitable precautions are taken.

Statement of Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission Enforcement Policy on Provider Participation in Exchange of Prices and Costs, an issue in August 1996, remains as the primary guidance in the exchange of compensation information for employees that will not result in a challenge of an antitrust violation by the DOJ and FTC. From an antitrust perspective, firms that compete to hire or retain employees are competitors in the employment marketplace.  Managers, HR professionals, and employees with access to compensation information should not communicate the company’s policies to other companies competing to hire the same types of employees.

Not all information exchanges are illegal.  It is possible to design and carry out information exchanges in ways that conform to the antitrust laws.  For example, an information exchange may be lawful if:

  • A neutral third party manages the exchange;
  • The exchange involves information that is relatively old;
  • The information is aggregated to protect the identity of the underlying sources; and
  • Enough sources are aggregated to prevent competitors from linking particular data to an individual source.

WageWatch surveys are fully compliant with all antitrust guidelines including aggregating the results to protect the identity of the participants, ensuring that the age of the data is at least 90 days old, and ensuring that data results contain at least 5 participants.  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, benefits survey data and salary reports, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.