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Archive for August, 2017

ADVANCED COMPENSATION ANALYSIS

In order to stay in line with industry trends and economic ups and downs, salary ranges should be compared to market each year.  Adjustments to salary ranges may not be needed every year.  Depending upon how fast or slow the market is moving, adjustments normally are needed every 2 – 3 years.  During your annual salary range to the market analysis process, make notes and keep a record of any changes or movement that you see with any jobs and departments from year to year.  It is prudent to avoid making changes to your salary ranges for temporary fluctuations or anomalies.  Look for trends that are long-lasting.

In addition to an external compensation analysis to market, an analysis should be performed to identify internal pay inequities that could potentially become the focus of an OFCCP audit.  Pay inequities should include women statistically paid less than men and/or minorities statistically paid less than non-minorities. Records should consistently be kept regarding all pay decisions to determine whether there are legitimate business reasons to support the pay patterns that exist in those areas.  The results of this analysis will not necessarily be used to adjust individual employee compensation.  Rather, the analysis results should be used to target areas where suspicious statistical pay patterns exist.

Since the purpose of the analysis is to anticipate areas potentially of concern to OFCCP, start the analysis with the salary grades or levels as these are most often used as the units of analysis by the OFCCP.   You will need to determine which unit or units of analysis most appropriately reflect how compensation is administered.  The objective is to find potential problem areas by targeting employees who would reasonably be expected to be paid on the same basis due to factors such as job grade, market location, and business unit.

Though the OFCCP will typically use median to perform analysis and determine pay inequities within pay grades or other units.  A thorough compensation analysis should include:

  1. Median and mean analyses (to identify areas of OFCCP concern):  In each pay grade compare the median and mean of women and men and of minorities and non-minorities.
  2. t-Test analysis:  This test will determine whether the observed differences in pay within the grade levels are statistically significant.  Results of the t-statistic (t-Stat) in the t-Test are considered to be statistically significant if they are 2.00 or greater representing differences of two or more standard deviations.
  3. Regression analysis:  Any unit where the differences in pay are statistically significant a regression analysis should be performed.  Factors that influence grade levels such as time in service, time in a level, time in the job, department, education, and performance can be incorporated into the regression.
  4. Cohort analysis:  Perform this analysis where it has been determined that the differentials are statistically significant, and where the regression analysis has not accounted for the differentials.  A primary cohort analysis would normally be completed on job titles within grades, across department designations and within departmental designations. Each of the various job titles within the database would be sorted by grade, job title, and then base salary from highest to lowest.
  5. Outlier report:  The average salary of protected class of employees is compared to the average salary of the non-protected group within a salary grade and/or job title.  When a protected employees’ average salary falls below a set percentage of the non-protected, this should be flagged for further review.  This analysis identifies protected employees who are at the lower extremes of the salary range.

At WageWatch 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.  WageWatch also 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.  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 .

DOCKING EXEMPT EMPLOYEE PAY

The application and rules for the federal FLSA salary basis test are often misunderstood and not administered accurately or consistently.

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 (i.e., administrative, executive, professional, 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 work week
  • When an exempt performs no work for a full workweek.

For the following two 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.

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.

EFFECTIVE NEW HIRE ORIENTATION

An employee’s experience during their first few days will affect the rest of their tenure. It is critical, to begin with, an effective, positive, and fun new hire orientation for the future success of your new employees.  Even before the employee’s hire date, you can make a positive impact with a call to the employee two or three days before their start date, welcoming them, letting them know what time to arrive, and what they can expect during their first day and first week on the job.  Studies show that a well-planned orientation can contribute to the length of employment, better work attitudes, more effective communication, and fewer mistakes.  Your new hire orientation is your chance to set a positive tone for a long-lasting and mutually beneficial relationship.

A new hire’s early experience is highly influenced by his peers, managers, subordinates, HR team members, and the organization’s top management.  Ensure that new hires are welcomed by their team members.  Plan a welcome breakfast meet-and-greet for their first morning on the job.  The new hire’s immediate supervisor should schedule daily meetings with the new employee at least for the first week, then at least weekly for the first month or two.  Schedule informational meetings with key people in the department and in other departments to provide the new hire with the general knowledge that they will need to perform their job.  Include an office tour in the orientation process that includes introductions.  Be sure to include introductions to top Executives, Human Resource personnel as well as receptionists, administrative assistants, and copy/mail room attendants.

An effective orientation program will put emphasis on the new employee, their individuality and what they have to offer rather than focusing solely on the company’s culture and how the new employee can fit in.  You are probably hiring in part to get new ideas into the organization.  Make sure to capitalize on that.  Make your orientation meetings fun and be sure to provide a meal or at least snacks.  Keep it interesting and not too long.  Too much information will be boring and will not be retained.  Orientation should reflect culture through interactive activities.  One way to make it memorable is to present the company’s goals, mission, and values in an interactive activity rather than simply providing the information.  Allow the new hires to get to know each other on a personal basis, not just professional – go around the room and have them tell one professional and one personal thing about themselves.  You can also turn this into a game by writing one thing about each person on a piece of paper.  At the end, state items one at a time out of order and have people guess who said what.

Promote communication with a team building activity such as learning the employee handbook through a scavenger hunt.  For example, divide the orientation group into teams and see which team can answer the most handbook questions in a set amount of time.  Cover company ethics to let them know what is expected, and also include ‘unwritten rules’.  Don’t end there.  After orientation, schedule follow-up meetings with each new hire to gain their feedback and answer any follow-up questions they may have.

Don’t forget the basics.  Provide them with all the office supplies they will need to start their job, include contact information they will need.  And let them know how to get additional office supplies.  Teach them how to use the phone, how to forward calls, set up and change voice mail, and how to do a conference call.

Today, many companies are adding programs such as flex-time, telecommuting as well as accommodating and encouraging alternative work styles in an effort to provide a work environment where employees are happier and thriving.  Therefore don’t neglect or underestimate how impactful beginnings are, and provide your new hires with an orientation program that is effective and unique to your company and its culture.

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 compensation and benefits package.  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 consulting, salary survey data, benefit survey data and market compensation reports, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

IT’S TIME TO ADJUST YOUR SALARY STRUCTURE

Maintaining a salary structure that aligns with the organization’s pay philosophy and is competitive to the labor market is imperative for any organization.  Most organizations update their salary structure every one to two years, as budget permits.  However, during the recent recession, some organizations chose not to increase their salary structures for cost containment and/or a lack of competitive pressure to do so.  For 2017, the stronger U.S. economy and increased employer confidence should continue to bolster job gains, and economists expect the previously sluggish wage growth to accelerate.  Whether or not you’ve adjusted your salary structure during the past few years, it is certainly time to do so now.

The review of your salary structure should determine whether it is still aligned with the company’s needs, pay philosophy and the labor market.  Salary structure adjustments maintain the structure’s competitiveness with the external labor market and protect an organization’s ability to compete in the market place for talented employees.  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.  Salary-structure issues are less expensive to address early on so it is best to review your salary structure annually for any needed changes.  If you wait two or three years to review and adjust, the labor market can move significantly upward in that period of time and the cost of salary range adjustments and resulting salary increases can be substantial.

Other business changes and events may warrant a review of the salary structure, such as the company’s merger or acquisition, or a competitor opening or closing a facility that impacts the company’s operations.  At times during the year hiring managers may alert you to possible salary-structure issues and their insight can indicate that specific areas of the salary structure are out of alignment.  But there may be other factors that the manager is not aware of, such as an organization’s strategic decision to set pay levels above or below the market median.

There are two basic methods for updating your salary structure and many companies will alternate the two methods, performing the ‘quick’ adjustment one year and the ‘in-depth’ adjustment the following year.

  1. The Quick Adjustment method is where you collect and consider trend or annual merit increase information, then adjust your ranges by a percentage you view as necessary to remain competitive. Trend and annual merit increase surveys are published every year and most companies rely more on average or median salary increase figures.
  2. The In-Depth Adjustment method is where you select a representative sample of benchmark jobs using currently published compensation surveys for your competitive market. Collect the competitive salary data, and then compare your salary range mid-points to the market medians or the percentile that you chose to compete with for the benchmark jobs. The results will help you determine the degree to which your ranges should be adjusted and also identify any jobs or job families whose pay is moving at a different pace than the rest of the market and may need re-graded. This methodology requires more data and time to complete.

Alternating annually between these two methods should maintain competitiveness, cost efficiency, and save time from performing the In-Depth Adjustment analysis every year.  Any resulting increases from the structure movement should be minimal and workable within the current budget year.

It is also important to remember that established pay grades, the jobs’ placement within the pay grades and well-maintained job descriptions are the nuts and bolts of the salary structure.  Companies change over time and job functions and duties can also change.  Keeping job descriptions accurate and reflecting the core duties of each position will be essential to appropriate and competitive salary ranges and pay.

Companies should consider the reassessment of their salary administration programs, along with all of their compensation plans, as a vital and ongoing part of the program’s success.  Assessing the program to ensure that it continues to meet your company’s needs is perceived as a credible and functional part of the Human Resources process, and will enhance your company’s ability to remain a competitive force in the marketplace.  When was the last time your organization reviewed its salary structure(s)?

At WageWatch, we offer accurate, up-to-date benefit survey data, market compensation data, salary reports and consulting services 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. 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 other business and industry segments including healthcare and non-profits.  For more information on our services, including market compensation data, benefits survey data, salary reports, and consulting services, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

 

BUDGET SEASON: ARE YOU PREPARED?

It’s that time of year again when companies are preparing their budgets for the upcoming year.   For HR professionals, it is probably not one of your favorite tasks, but by embracing the process, it can be an opportunity to reinforce the HR function as a strategic partner.

Budgets are used to monitor progress toward goals, help control spending, and predict cash flow and profit.  The challenge is predicting the future 100% accurately and in turn developing effective budgets.

It is valuable for HR to gain a strong understanding and appreciation for the value of good annual budgeting.  In most companies, employee costs constitute the majority of fixed costs and therefore the HR budget contains key and critical elements of the overall company budget.

Here are a few things you can do to make the budget process a smoother one:

  1. Throughout the year, ensure to include the CFO when reviewing such things as pay increases with the CEO.  This can go a long way to developing a partnership with the CFO.
  2. The credibility of the HR function is significantly improved when you can demonstrate real savings and value for HR projects and processes.
  3. Empower your HR team.  Every HR team member should own their line items in the budget.  For example, recruiting is responsible for their search firm fees, recruiting tools, and relocation.
  4. Link the development of your budget to corporate strategy.  This gives a clearer understanding of strategic goals.  And, in turn, should create greater support for the goals, and, a stronger company-wide performance. The key to linking the two is communication.  In order to communicate strategic goals, top management needs information about customers, competitors, technology, etc., and this information must come from support units such as Human Resources.
Budgeting requires the collection of many forms of data. From a human resource   perspective, listed below are some items that would be included in the budget:

Recruiting

  • Advertising & agency fees
  • Employee referral program
  • Background checks / drug testing
  • Recruitment expenses
  • Applicant tracking system costs

Training

  • Training programs
  • Travel expenses
  • Consulting fees

Compensation and Benefits

  • Payroll costs
  • Salaries  & overtime
  • Compensation surveys / benefit surveys
  • Incentive compensation
  • Health and welfare benefits
  • Retirement plan
  • Employee assistance program

Employee and Labor Relations

  • Recognition program  / Service Awards
  • Employee Opinion Survey
  • Performance appraisal software
  • Employment and Labor relations expenses (attorneys, consultants)

Other

  • Strategic planning (data/consultants)
  • HR databases such as HRIS/subscriptions/memberships/books

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 .