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MERIT BUDGET ALLOCATION

A primary goal of any compensation program is to motivate employees to perform at their best.  Most organizations have to pay for performance at least in the form of a merit pay system.  An accurate, reliable, and credible performance-appraisal program that is aligned with company goals, core values, and industry best practices is the foundation of a successful merit pay program.  Performance measures should be tailored specifically for the organization and its jobs with clear outcomes that minimize bias and misinterpretation.  Consistency, manager training, effective communications, and a periodic review are also essential for success.

The merit pay budget has two aspects to it:  1) determining the size of the budget and 2) allocating the budget to organizational units and its employees.  Determining the size of the budget will be based on competitive trends, the organization’s financial situation and other factors that may impact pay such as minimum wage and cost of living changes.  For the past several years merit budgets have been small and therefore it has been a challenge to adequately reward top performers as well as those that are rated ‘Good’ and ‘Average’.  Employees with performance ratings of ‘Good’ and ‘Average’ can be the largest percentage of employees and therefore the backbone of the workforce.  These employees should not be overlooked as a raise for these employees often do not keep up with the cost of living.  Also the differentials between performance levels may not be large enough to motivate and retain employees.  These factors reduce the motivational potential of the merit pay program.

Using a merit increase matrix may help to maintain internal equity but may not properly reward top performers.  You want your reviewing managers to be engaged in the merit award process and to give appropriate thought and consideration to their pay decisions.  A certain amount of guidance and training is needed but the merit matrix can be too structured and rigid as well as make it too easy for reviewing managers to simply follow the formula rather than spend the time and effort for a thorough review.  Greater rewards for top performers and greater deviation of awards between good and average performers can be accomplished by providing zero increases to employees whose performance falls below average.  Providing broad increase guidelines in lieu of a matrix to your reviewing managers using factors such as performance rating, time in the position, and position in salary range can eliminate the rigidity of the merit matrix and drive a more thoughtful approach to the merit award process.  Once tentative award amounts are determined, reviewing managers should perform an analysis of the awards looking at the whole department and at each individual award using these and other factors as well as any unique or special circumstances.

Annual pay increases not only help keep employees’ pay at the market level, providing awards that are accurately linked to performance are important in retaining employees, especially your best ones.  Compensation frequently emerges as a driver of retention, and when pay increases aren’t provided regularly and fairly, it will negatively impact job satisfaction.

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 and that your pay practices are fair, equitable and non-discriminatory. We can provide your business with compensation surveys and salary reports to help you establish a budget for your merit pay program, including bonuses and incentives. Our innovative company is a leader in the collection of data for surveys and salary reports, which allows us to provide services to a wide range of industries in both the private and public sector. To learn more about our compensation surveys, salary reports, and other services please call 480-237-6130 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 in 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 2018, 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 marketplace 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 in 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 companywide 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.

 

GET MORE OUT OF YOUR TURNOVER METRIC

Most HR departments miss an opportunity when it comes to measuring and reporting turnover.  The goal of any HR metric is to provide information on how to improve the measured item.  As Peter Drucker said, “what gets measured gets done.”  Reporting turnover as simply a percentage of the workforce can be made more meaningful and more useful by diving down into the detail and adding data and information that quantifies the cost and provides insight on root causes and how to make improvements.  Some examples of this are:

  • Along with your company’s turnover rate, add the turnover rate of competitors, giving a baseline or something to compare against
  • Add the percentage of turnover that was top performers or top salespeople, the percent of turnover in each department and for each manager, the percent in high impact jobs and hard to fill jobs
  • Add the percentage of turnover in the first year of employment, which can be linked to possible employee dissatisfaction
  • Add how long it takes to fill positions, the recruitment cost of filling the positions, and how long before they are up to the minimum productivity level
  • Add exit interview information such as how many went to work for competitors and which competitors. Exit interviews may also indicate whether turnover was preventable, which may, in turn, provide managers with information needed for improvement
  • Add the dollar impact of lost sales where applicable, i.e., sales turnover, which can be directly linked to revenue and economic impact to the company

The involuntary turnover metric is also important.  It can indicate that the company is keeping low performers which can also be costly.  With this additional information, conclusions are now more easily drawn and the cost of turnover is more tangible (i.e., the cost of losing individuals in key positions is likely higher than losing individuals in low-impact positions).  If losing hard to fill jobs, the job market may be tight and replacing these employees could be expensive.   Losing individuals with strong reputations within the industry can impact stock analysts’ assessments of your firm.  It can also send negative signals throughout your firm and the industry, which can, in turn, lead to more turnover.

Some additional information that can be helpful when included with the turnover report, include:

  • Leading causes of preventable turnover
  • Satisfaction or frustration levels of those who left which could impact the company’s external image
  • Lowest turnover rates within the firm which can provide a target for managers to aim
  • The likelihood that the person that left will take others with them.

Today’s world moves fast, and as an employer, you should constantly be monitoring and adjusting your business operations to meet the ever-changing wants and needs of your employees.  At WageWatch, we offer accurate, up-to-date salary survey reports and pay practice 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.

WAGE AND HOUR POTHOLES

Every company should perform wage and hour audits periodically; minimally once a year and twice a year if possible.  It is easier for you to catch and correct errors than to risk discovery from employees or in the event of a DOL audit.  To remain compliant with wage and hour regulations it is valuable to have the appropriate checks in place, such as up-to-date written policies and procedures, periodic training for supervisors and managers, the establishment of effective complaint mechanisms, and a regular audit process should be established.

Wage and hour violations are not only costly from the standpoint of back pay and penalties but can also lead to serious employee relations issues if employees feel they are not being fairly compensated.  Below are a few of the many wage and hour potholes of which you should beware.

Overtime Pay

Many missteps can occur regarding overtime pay, a few include:
•    Misclassifying workers as ‘exempt’ from overtime
•    Not paying ‘unapproved’ overtime
•    Failing to count all hours worked, including pre and post work activities
•    Failing to count certain activities as work time including working through a break
•    Checking emails or performing other duties during time off
•    Travel time and meeting and training attendance

Bonus or commission payments to nonexempt employees may impact overtime pay.  A bonus should be included in the calculation of the regular rate of pay for the weeks which the bonus is earned.  This will increase the overtime rate for these weeks.  The weeks for which the bonus is earned includes all weeks covered by the bonus period.  For example, if it is a quarterly bonus then all weeks in the quarter will apply.

Another consideration for computing overtime pay is when an employee works two or more jobs with different hourly rates at one or more facilities for the same employer in the same work week.  The employer must use the weighted average of the rates to compute the employee’s regular rate of pay for the purpose of calculating overtime pay.

Exemption Status / Salary Basis Test

Do you examine the duties of your salaried employees and not just their titles or how they are paid in determining whether they are exempt?  Your exempt employees must pass one of the FLSA exemption tests in order to be exempt from being paid overtime.  These exemption tests are based on actual work performed and do not test based on the job title nor what is written in the job description.

For a job to remain exempt it must pass the Salary Basis Test which ensures that improper deductions to exempt employee’s salary are not made.  There are very specific rules to follow when making any deductions to an exempt employee’s salary.  Also, a job that is exempt can lose exempt status when the duties and responsibilities change due to things such as staff reductions or organizational changes.  Therefore it is advisable to retest jobs that are impacted by these types of changes.
Meal and Rest Period Compliance

Many state wage and hour laws require employers to provide their employees with meal and/or rest breaks. These laws specify the circumstances under which such breaks must be compensated. In some cases, state laws impose different requirements than does FLSA.

A few more potholes worth mentioning:

We have mentioned just a few of the many potholes HR professionals need to be aware when classifying jobs as exempt or nonexempt, overtime pay calculation, and rest period compliance. Here are a few more to keep in mind:

  • Failing to pay employees on day of termination
  • Failure to follow rules for On-Call pay;
  • Improper use of ‘Comp Time’
  • Unlawful deductions from employee paychecks.

Be sure to consult your federal and state wage and hour resources and/or your wage and hour counsel to ensure a thorough and correct understanding of wage and hour rules.

Remaining compliant with wage and hour regulations is an important task that Human Resources and Compensation department performs for an organization.  Another important task performed is to ensure fair and competitive pay practices.  For the good of your employees, it is helpful to analyze benefit survey data, compensation surveys and salary reports.  Having this information at hand allows you to plan a budget, including competitive employee salaries and benefits, which will help you hire and retain a happy, talented team.

At WageWatch, our expert consultants provide businesses, across a large range of industries, with accurate and beneficial benefits survey data, compensation surveys, and salary reports to ensure that payment and benefits plans are on par with those in the industry.  For more information on market compensation data, please call WageWatch at 888-330-WAGE (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.

INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR OR EMPLOYEE?

If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it’s a duck.  In other words, if you are treating the ‘independent contractor’ like an employee by doing things such as providing work materials and office space, designating working hours, providing training and direction regarding how and when to perform the work, then the ‘independent contractor’ is most likely an employee.  Independent contractor is defined by the Fair Labor Standards Act, IRS regulations, and the decisions of some courts.  Many states also have specific independent contractor regulations.  The IRS and many states have adopted common law principles to define an independent contractor. These rules focus primarily on the level of control an employer has over a service or product. For independent contractors, the company can direct or control only the result of the work done, and not the means and methods in getting to the result.

The rules are not always clear-cut to determine the correct status, but generally characteristics of an Independent Contractor include:

  • The work assignment is temporary and typically for a specific project
  • The work assignment is not an integral part of the business and is not something typically done by employees.

The Independent Contractor will:

  • Supply his or her own equipment, materials and tools
  • Pay for their own expenses
  • Control the hours worked
  • Determine how and when to perform the work
  • Retain a degree of control and independence
  • Operate under a business name and has his/her own employees
  • Advertise his/her business’ services and has more than one client

Some courts and federal agencies use an “economic realities test” which looks at the dependence of the worker on the business.  If a large portion of a worker’s salary is from one specific company, this may qualify the as an employee. Other factors considered are level of skill, integral nature of the work, intent of the parties and payment of social security taxes and benefits.

Misclassification of an individual as an independent contractor may have a number of costly legal consequences such as reimbursement of all wages including overtime, taxes and penalties for federal and state income taxes, social security, Medicare and unemployment, providing employee benefits and workers compensation for any injuries.

There is no set number of factors that makes the worker an employee or an independent contractor.  Also, factors which are relevant in one situation may not be relevant in another.  The best approach is to look at the entire relationship, consider the degree or extent of the right to direct and control the work, and be sure to document all factors used in your determination process.

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.

INCENTIVE PLAN ESSENTIALS

Well-designed and well-implemented incentive plans can be an important tool for overall company success, but they also have the potential to be ineffective and even damaging if not carefully thought out.  Poorly designed incentives can have too much discretion, too much complexity or just too many measures that can undermine their power and advantage, and they can become just another way to distribute pay.

Before you even consider incentives, make sure you know the company’s strategy and the critical measurements of success.  You will need to know the specifics regarding what you want to achieve, what kinds of improvements, behaviors and outcomes do you want; why aren’t these improvements happening now and what’s preventing them from taking place; what obstacles to the outcomes will employees face, how will employees respond to and try to overcome these obstacles, and is this what you want; Do employees have the skills, experience, systems and support they need to overcome these obstacles and if not, what is lacking?

The potential incentive must be big enough to get the employees’ attention.  Incentives can create a focus on results, but you have to first get the employee’s attention.  Because the opportunity for financial rewards motivates some more than others, your incentive plan will have a greater chance of success if you carefully define what the size of the opportunity must be in order to get the majority of your employees’ focus.

The performance or results required to earn the incentive must be within the employees’ control or significant influence and should be perceived as achievable with some extra effort or stretch.  It should be easy to see and understand the relationship between one’s effort, the results of that effort and the reward.   The incented performance needs to be perceived as a desirable, stretch goal to get and keep the employee’s attention. The payout must be worth the effort required to “stretch.”  The actual payout after the final measurement is made needs to justify the attempt that was made to achieve the full objective.

Develop robust tools for performance reporting so that the employee participants always know where they stand in relation to their goals and payouts.  The payout should be forecast as the performance period proceeds in order to keep the employees’ focus on the desired outcome.   Too much subjectivity in the measurements will turn a Plan into a surprise bonus.   The sources of the measurements should be available to every participant on a regular basis and calculations for determining payouts must be simple and easy to understand.

Incentive plans will also be more valued and accepted by employees when they are a compliment to an already competitive base salary plan.  Incentive plans are not meant to remedy non-competitive pay issues.  Finally, critical factors for a plans success lie in keeping it simple and ensuring good plan communications.

Incentive plans, or any other reward vehicles, cannot drive the performance-improvement bus alone. Unless you identify and remove the barriers to performance, and create the setting in which performance improvement is possible and even likely, throwing incentive money at the problem will likely have little positive impact and could produce some very real negative consequences.

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.

SALARY STRUCTURES: WHAT ARE THEY GOOD FOR?

Established salary structures aren’t mandatory.  There is no law that requires them, but they serve many useful purposes.  Having salary ranges in place can ensure that salary decisions, from new hires to promotions, are made with objective and consistent rules and parameters.  They provide at least a first line of defense against salary discrimination, intentional or otherwise, by ensuring that employees performing the same job are granted the same salary opportunity.  And formal salary ranges provide you with a tool for proactively managing and budgeting your salary dollars.

Salary structures 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 and control overall base salary cost by providing a cap on the range paid.

A salary structure enables employers to pay employees in a given position, consistently, for the work they do.  Salary ranges also offer flexibility enabling a company to pay higher in the range for an employee based on a greater level of education, experience or performance.  In the same way, it can potentially save on labor costs when hiring employees with limited backgrounds.

Having well documented and communicated salary ranges can minimize employees’ pay equity concerns and grievances.

A well-designed salary structure will help organizations:

  • Attract and retain suitable, qualified, and experienced employees
  • Build high morale with internal equity
  • Create more satisfied employees and thus reduce turnover
  • Minimize favoritism and bias
  • Provide a structure for career progression
  • Serve as a sound basis for collective bargaining and employee relations management

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.

A study of the current labor market will provide new information to determine whether the organization’s pay structure, policies and practices, job classifications and job titles are appropriate or needing adjustment.

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.

MERIT BUDGET ALLOCATION

A primary goal of any compensation program is to motivate employees to perform at their best.  Most organizations have pay for performance at least in the form of a merit pay system.  An accurate, reliable and credible performance-appraisal program that is aligned with company goals, core values and industry best practices is the foundation of a successful merit pay program.  Performance measures should be tailored specifically for the organization and its jobs with clear outcomes that minimize bias and misinterpretation.  Consistency, manager training, effective communications and a periodic review are also essential for success.

The merit pay budget has two aspects to it:  1) determining the size of the budget and 2) allocating the budget to organizational units and its employees.  Determining the size of the budget will be based on competitive trends, the organization’s financial situation and other factors that may impact pay such as minimum wage and cost of living changes.  For the past several years merit budgets have been small and therefore it has been a challenge to adequately reward top performers as well as those that are rated ‘Good’ and ‘Average’.  Employees with performance ratings of ‘Good’ and ‘Average’ can be the largest percentage of employees and therefore the backbone of the workforce.  These employees should not be overlooked but raises for these employees often do not keep up with the cost of living.  Also the differentials between performance levels may not be large enough to motivate and retain employees.  These factors reduce the motivational potential of the merit pay program.

Using a merit increase matrix may help to maintain internal equity but may not properly reward top performers.  You want your reviewing managers to be engaged in the merit award process and to give appropriate thought and consideration to their pay decisions.  A certain amount of guidance and training is needed but the merit matrix can be too structured and rigid as well as make it too easy for reviewing managers to simply follow the formula rather than spend the time and effort for a thorough review.  Greater rewards for top performers and greater deviation of awards between good and average performers can be accomplished by providing zero increases to employees whose performance falls below average.  Providing broad increase guidelines in lieu of a matrix to your reviewing managers using factors such as performance rating, time in position, and position in salary range can eliminate the rigidity of the merit matrix and drive a more thoughtful approach to the merit award process.  Once tentative award amounts are determined, reviewing managers should perform an analysis of the awards looking at the whole department and at each individual award using these and other factors as well as any unique or special circumstances.

Annual pay increases not only help keep employees’ pay at market, providing awards that are accurately linked to performance are important in retaining employees, especially your best ones.  Compensation frequently emerges as a driver of retention, and when pay increases aren’t provided regularly and fairly, it will negatively impact job satisfaction.

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 and that your pay practices are fair, equitable and non-discriminatory. We can provide your business with compensation surveys and salary reports to help you establish a budget for your merit pay program, including bonuses and incentives. Our innovative company is a leader in the collection of data for surveys and salary reports, which allows us to provide services to a wide range of industries in both the private and public sector. To learn more about our compensation surveys, salary reports, and other services please call 480-237-6130 or contact us online.