WageWatch Ibrief Blog

Login

Blog Archives

LINKING PAY PRACTICES WITH BUSINESS OBJECTIVES

Compensation plays a critical role in organizations’ ongoing and increasingly challenging efforts to attract, retain, and motivate a talented workforce. Compensation design and management play a vital role in aligning employee behavior with business objectives. Human capital costs represent a significant part of most organizations’ cost bases and need to be spent as effectively as possible. It is vital to understand the consequences pay decisions can have on your organization.

Salary structures are an important component of effective compensation programs and help ensure that pay levels for groups of jobs are competitive externally and equitable internally. A well-designed salary structure allows management to reward performance and skills development while controlling overall base salary cost with a salary range cap. Market pricing is the most common method companies use to design base salary structure ranges using external market data combined with a focus on internal pay equity. The goal of market pricing is to keep the organization from 1) underpaying, resulting in losing talent to competitors, or being unable to attract the talent it needs and, 2) over-paying which wastes organizational resources and impedes desirable turnover. The secret to effective market pricing is the ability to spot and adequately analyze and level the data anomalies and imperfections using both science and experience.

Some organizations elect to pay lower than the market and offset lower than market wages with offers of ‘good’ benefits, meaningful work, and stability. This practice can lead to employee disengagement and organizations risk losing people. Also, the organization will likely attract people who couldn’t get ‘better’ jobs with higher pay. One of the key determinants of job satisfaction or dissatisfaction is how employees feel their pay package compares to others.

Pay-for-performance programs are used to award employees for desired behaviors and outcomes and they take many forms, including cash bonuses, company stock, and profit sharing. Pay-for-performance plans have a learning curve, and they require regular maintenance in order to be and remain effective. Incentive compensation plans need to align with the company’s business strategy, mission, goals, and objectives. They should address root causes of performance and the goals must reflect a balance of financial results and the key business drivers. Payout opportunities should be both consistent with the performance value and meaningful to employees.

While pay-for-performance plans provide a financial incentive to employees, there can be disadvantages. If not crafted carefully, they can cause employees to focus more on quantity over quality. They may impede teamwork if workers view helping another employee as wasting valuable time that could be spent on reaching their own goals. And just like base pay, incentive pay should be competitive with the market or it could fall short of motivating the employees.

Smart, successful organizations do the regular planning and evaluating of their compensation and performance rewards systems. Compensation is visible and important to employees. It is critical to have a solid and competitive pay strategy where pay decisions and policies match the objectives of the organization. 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.

INTERNAL PAY EQUITY COMPLIANCE

A company’s approach to internal pay equity is as important as the actual pay programs it implements. Many factors can impact internal pay equity such as internal increases remaining low while new hires demand salaries that exceed current tenured employees. Organizations should conduct periodic pay equity studies to keep on top of potential pay equity risks and ensure an understanding of the pay structure, as well as knowledge of and ability to explain pay differences among comparable employees.

When conducting your pay equity study, be aware of these five major federal laws that address equal pay:

1. The Equal Pay Act: equal pay for equal work among women and men.
2. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin in all employment terms and conditions, including pay
3. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act clarifies that each paycheck containing discriminatory compensation is actionable under Title VII.
4. Executive Order 11246 prohibits federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating in employment decisions, including compensation, on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin, when contracts or subcontracts exceed $10,000.
5. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) protects the rights of most private-sector employees to join together, with or without a union, to improve their wages and working conditions.

Most companies keep a close eye on pay decisions, such as merit raises and starting pay and the processes that guide them. Unfortunately, tracking individual decisions might not be enough. The Ledbetter Act requires knowledge of past pay decisions that may have impacted a discrimination claim. Pay today equals the pay at hire plus all subsequent changes in pay. Comparing the current pay of employees who were dissimilar in the past means that more historical information may be needed to understand their pay differences.

Pay differences can be defended by differences in knowledge, skill, education, ability, effort or responsibility provided it is required to perform the job. Pay equity studies typically rely on the data that is available such as job title or grade, the length of time in a job, company seniority, performance ratings and increase percentages, geographic locations, education and prior job experience.

A pay equity study may involve the appropriate legal counsel, an experienced analyst as well as HR information systems and compensation specialists. Detailed analysis can point to employees who should be paid similarly but who are subject to large pay differences and will highlight additional factors that explain the difference or highlight inexplicable differences that merit adjustment. Conducting a well-designed and well-executed pay equity study using well-maintained and complete data is a good business practice that serves as an important tool in managing the risk associated with allegations of pay discrimination.

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.

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.

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.