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Archive for 2013

The Family Act: Could Paid Family Medical Leave Become US Law?

Currently, the United States is the only industrialized nation not to offer paid maternity leave. The Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act, or FAMILY Act, is new legislation that would guarantee all workers would receive paid family and medical leave. The bill was introduced on 12/12/13 by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT).

 The Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act would build upon the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, which currently provides workers with 12 weeks of unpaid leave to recover from serious illnesses, care for new children, or care for seriously ill spouses, parents, or children.  FMLA only covers organizations with 50 or more employees and employees must have worked for the same employer for at least 12 months consisting of at least 1,250 hours to be eligible.  The FAMILY Act would cover all workers, including part-time and contingent workers in any size company and self-employed workers. 

 The FAMILY Act would provide up to 12 weeks of paid leave each year to qualifying workers for birth or adoption, the worker’s serious illness, the serious illness of an immediate family member including domestic partner and particular military caregiving. Workers would be eligible to collect benefits equal to 66 percent of their regular or average monthly wages up to a maximum of $1,000 per week. It would be funded by employee and employer contributions of 0.2 percent of wages each to create a self-sufficient program which would be administered through a new Office of Paid Family and Medical Leave within the Social Security Administration. Payroll contributions would cover both insurance benefits and administrative costs. As is the case with Social Security, workers must have been employed and must have paid into the system in order to collect benefits.  It is also affordable.  Wages are only taxed up to a cap of $113,700, so the maximum contribution for a high-wage earner would be only $227.40 per year.

 The FAMILY Act is patterned after family and medical leave insurance programs such as family leave insurance or SDI, which have existed in California since 2004 and in New Jersey since 2009, and will begin in Rhode Island in 2014.  The FAMILY Act is backed by groups such as the Center for American Progress, which proposed a similar measure in 2009, and the National Partnership for Women and Families, which wrote and helped pass the FMLA.  This Act may have an uphill battle to become law, but because it will not put significant pressures on the federal budget or employers, and more than 400 groups across the nation are urging members of Congress to pass this bill and to live up to the promise of offering more support to families, it’s time may have come. We will monitor its progress in Congress during 2014.

 WageWatch salary surveys provide data tools and report statistics for analysts of all experience levels. Please contact WageWatch if you need assistance with interpretation the statistics reported, help building custom reports, or have a need for our wide range of consulting services. For more information on our services and surveys please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

Posted in Uncategorized on December 19th, 2013 · Comments Off on The Family Act: Could Paid Family Medical Leave Become US Law?

Future of the Minimum Wage

The minimum wage has been making headlines again with President Obama and Congressional Democrats pushing legislation to increase the wage from its current $7.25 to $10.10, in three 95 cent steps. After the third step increase, the minimum wage would be linked to a cost of living index. The legislation would also gradually increase the federal tipped wage to 70 percentage of the regular minimum wage. This proposal is much higher than the $9.00 per hour the President mentioned in his State of the Union Address last February. The federal minimum wage has been $7.25 since July 2009 as part of a three step increase signed into law in 2007. The tipped wage has been $2.13 since 1991.

For 2014, 21 states and DC will have minimum wages that are above the federal of which 10 states have their wage linked to cost of living index. Washington State has the highest minimum wage at $9.19 per hour effective Jan 1, 2014. WageWatch has posted a minimum wage chart in the Resources section for quick reference.

The idea of a living wage has received front page attention thanks to the national efforts of union organizers in the fast-food industry who have been campaigning for a $15.00 per hour minimum wage for their “quick service” workers. During this past Black Friday shopping week, Wal-Mart workers protested stores with similar demands.

Opposition groups and business leaders contend that such a wage increase could backfire by reducing employment opportunities claiming most franchises operate on small margins and would have to reduce their workforce and cut back on workers’ hours. The restaurant industry responded similarly to new healthcare mandates. Some economists predict that a $15 per hour wage could reduce the country’s 2.5 million fast-food workers by 20%.

 Some municipalities have gone beyond their state minimum wages by enacting their own. Last month, the town of SeaTac, WA, known for its major airport, narrowly approved a wage hike to $15.00 which affected approximately 6,500 workers. This past week, the District of Colombia is looking to create an $11.50 min wage with regional support nearby suburbs. The region has over 2.5 million residents. The final vote for this increase is in early 2014. The city of San Francesco has the highest min wage in the country at $10.74 and Santa Fe is second with $10.51.

Within the lodging industry, the national average wages for entry level positions are almost always above minimum wage. According to the 2013 WageWatch Hospitality Compensation Survey of over 5,000 properties nationwide, the average rate for full service hotel Front Desk Agents is $12.57 and $11.52 for Housekeepers. For the smaller select service hotels the average pay for a Front Desk Agent is $10.05 and $9.08 for Housekeepers, all well above the $7.25 federal minimum. These rates do not include tips or gratuities which would push the total cash compensation even higher.

WageWatch salary surveys provide data tools and report statistics for analysts of all experience levels. Please contact WageWatch if you need assistance with interpretation the statistics reported, help building custom reports, or have a need for our wide range of consulting services. For more information on our services and surveys please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

Posted in Uncategorized on December 12th, 2013 · Comments Off on Future of the Minimum Wage

Dealing With The ACA Employer Mandate

ACA (aka Obamacare) continues to be the topic du jour in most hotel and restaurant management companies. Given all of the problems that ACA continues to experience with its website roll out to date, and the premium shock many individual plan buyers are receiving over the healthcare insurance exchanges in the last couple of months; many hotel and restaurant managers and owners are extremely worried about the havoc that the federally mandated regulation of employer plans beginning in December 2014 may have on their operations.

 The “Employer Mandate” is one such policy, which could change the structure of the American workforce if ACA is not soon amended by Congress. Essentially, the Employer Mandate will require employers with 50 or more full time equivalent employees to provide “Affordable Healthcare” to all employees who work 30 or more hours a week. The implementation was delayed a year in order to give the employers, insurance companies and the regulators time to work out the details, but will go into effect late next year.

 Beginning in 2015, all plans will have to fully comply with ACA guidelines. The market and the public will not likely fully grasp the premium increases this will require until next summer when more insurance companies publish their ACA compliant plans and rates. Based on some of the early plans that have been published, there is little doubt that premiums will increase dramatically for healthy employees. In an effort to control costs, many employers will pass most of the costs on to employees. Employers who can reduce their fulltime equivalent to less than 50 and avoid the Employer Mandate are already making the change.

 There has been much press of late reporting on employers already increasing the number of part time employees in order to get under this 30 hour requirement. The impact this is having on the workforce is unclear. So far, this trend is mostly anecdotal with no statistical evidence that complying with ACA is driving the growth in part time employment we have seen over the last couple of years in the workforce. However, it is very likely that the trend of part time employment will accelerate further next year; and we will begin to see statistical evidence that will support the structural change from a focus on full time to a part time workforce in the United States.  

 However, adjusting the hours of employees can be complicated. This is best supported by an example in the hospitality industry.  This is a real life situation in Phoenix, Arizona that I recently encountered. A small fast foods store owner/operator has four stores, each is owned in a separate LLC with on average 20 employees per store.  Ten are full time employees and ten are part time working approximately 25 hours a week. Of the ten full time employees, four are salaried and have health insurance.  Six are hourly employees, and even with the employer paying 60% of the premiums, they cannot afford the insurance and none avail themselves of it.

 he four stores must be consolidated as if one entity under ACA regulations, which means the owner, has 40 full time and 40 part time employees. It appears he is under the requirement of 50 full time employees; unfortunately first impressions are not always correct. The 40 part time employees each work 100 hours a month.  Under ACA regulations the total of 4,000 hours a month is divided by 120 hours (30 hour per week) to yields 33 full time equivalent employees. For purposes of the Employer Mandate, this employer has 73 full time equivalent employees and must provide insurance for the 24 full time hourly employees (6 per store) not currently covered. The penalties for the employer can be quite severe for not complying.

 In order to avoid the penalties, this owner/operator will need to reduce the 24 full time hourly employees to less than 30 hours a week. This means he will have to hire additional part time employees to cover the working hours of the stores. He will need to add three to four part time employees per store.  In summary, instead of 40 full time employees and 40 part time employees, he would have 16 full time employees and 76 part time employees.

WageWatch salary surveys provide data tools and report statistics for analysts of all experience levels. Please contact WageWatch if you need assistance with interpretation the statistics reported, help building custom reports, or have a need for our wide range of consulting services. For more information on our services and surveys please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online .

Posted in Uncategorized on December 4th, 2013 · Comments Off on Dealing With The ACA Employer Mandate

Not All Salary Surveys are Created Equal

With traditional annual salary surveys, the process of data collection starts when the survey opens. The opening is followed by a window of time that is typically two to four months, and sometimes as long as six months. This survey window depends on the industry and number of positions surveyed, for which survey participants would report their payroll data for incumbents. At the end of the collection period, the survey closes and no additional survey participation can occur until the following year when the survey cycle is completed and the survey reopens. The date the survey closes to participation is referred to as the survey’s effective date.

Once the survey closes, the wage data is manually cleaned, analyzed, and the findings formatted into a compensation benchmark report. Building the report in this manner can take an additional two to three months and for some compensation surveys up to six months. Once the report is complete, it is made available to participants and is on sale until next year’s compensation report is published.

The traditional annual compensation survey, by design, reports last year’s data. Compensation professionals know the value of using the most update-to-date market data available to conduct their benchmarking and wage analysis.  WageWatch has responded to this need with salary surveys and benefit surveys that collect and report the most current data – never last year’s data. HR directors and compensation managers know the effective date for each participant. This approach creates a survey platform that is dynamic, never closes, and reports the most current market data available.

WageWatch uses the next generation methodology based on a 365-day subscription period that allows participants to continually update data and report findings during the year. WageWatch defines the effective date as the date on which wages are internally updated in an organization’s payroll system. WageWatch’s survey platform is dynamic and not static as are traditional annual salary surveys. While Wagewatch does have a close date for its compensation surveys, which would normally be referred to as the effective date in a traditional survey, this is a soft close date.

Because our surveys are dynamic compensation surveys, we continue to accept participants’ wage data after the close date of the survey.  Users can subscribe after the soft close date, enter their data and create their own custom reports all in the same day.  WageWatch reports allow you to select an entire market to compare your in house salary data, or you can select as few as five competitors you select to compare your salary data. This report is known as the WageWatch PeerMark™ Survey report.

WageWatch salary surveys provide data tools and report statistics for analysts of all experience levels. Please contact WageWatch if you need assistance with interpretation the statistics reported, help building custom reports, or have a need for our wide range of consulting services. For more information on our services and surveys please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online .

Posted in Uncategorized on November 27th, 2013 · Comments Off on Not All Salary Surveys are Created Equal

Blended Overtime Rate in Hospitality

HR knows that employers must pay an overtime premium of 1.5 times base pay to non-exempt employees who work in excess of 40 hours in a workweek. This calculation is complicated in the hospitality industry due to the use of the common utilization of the tip credit to the federal minimum wage and prevalence of multi-job employees.

Many hoteliers have employees that operate in two or more job functions. This could an employee who is a housekeeper during the first shift and a maintenance technician in the second shift, for example. In the hospitality industry, all hours worked for the same employer, which is defined as the management company and not simply the specific hotel property, must be added together to determine if total hours work exceed 40 hours in the workweek.

If the base rates of the two or more jobs are the same, the overtime calculation is straight forward it is simply 1.5 times the base rate. If the base rates of the two or more jobs are different, then the employer needs to blend the base rates to recreate a new regular rate of play before applying the 1.5 overtime multiplier.

Here is an example of calculating the blended overtime rate for an employee who works in two jobs at two different hourly rates.

Job 1: Housekeeper: $12.50 per hour

Job 2: Maintenance Tech: $16.50 per hour

For the week in question, this employee worked 25 hours as a housekeeper and 20 hours as a Maintenance Tech. With 45 total hours in the week, this employee is eligible for 5 hours of overtime premium pay. What question is how do we calculate the blended regular rate of pay and arrive at the weekly total earnings?

Housekeeper  = $12.50/hr x 25 Hours = $312.50 straight-time earnings

Maintenance Tech  = $16.50/hr x 20 Hours = $330.00 straight-time earnings

$312.50 + $330.00 = $642.50 total straight-time earnings

$642.50 total earnings / 45 hours for the week = $14.28 blended regular rate of pay

Remember, the straight-time earnings have already been calculated for all hours worked, so the additional amount to be calculated for each overtime hour worked is one –half the regular rate.

$14.28 regular rate x 0.5 half x 5 overtime hours  = $35.70 additional half-time pay

Adding the straight-time earnings with the additional half-time pay comes out to our total pay with overtime premium.

$642.50 + $35.70 = 678.20 total pay with overtime

WageWatch salary surveys provide data tools and report statistics for analysts of all experience levels. Please contact WageWatch if you need assistance with interpretation the statistics reported, help building custom reports, or have a need for our wide range of consulting services. For more information on our services and surveys please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online .

Posted in Uncategorized on November 21st, 2013 · Comments Off on Blended Overtime Rate in Hospitality

Can Salary Motivate Employees?

Studies have shown that salary can just as easily de-motivate employees as motivate them.   In fact, salaries generally operate as negative reinforcement rather than positive.   For example, an employee receiving a lower than expected merit increase or bonus payment can certainly de-motivate.  On the flip side, receiving the status quo merit increase or bonus amount every year can create an entitlement mentality.  However, when it comes to motivating employees, salary is always one of the top factors, and therefore, it has to be part of your total rewards strategy.  Many believe that the amount of money that is needed is at least enough to satisfy basic needs which vary by person.  Obviously, when salary does not, at a minimum, cover essential needs, this serves to de-motivate.

In our blog Compensation: Beyond the Paycheck published 10/31/13, we discussed non-monetary rewards and benefits that aid in employee motivation.  In this article we will focus on monetary rewards. Motivated employees make a difference to the workplace.  They affect the working environment positively as well as improve customer service, sales or production.  So, how can you determine if the salaries you are paying are motivating your workforce?

First, determine where to focus your compensation spending plan.  This can vary depending on factors such as the current economy, the competitive environment, and where the company is in its life-cycle.  For example a growing company with variable sales and income, may be better off focusing on base salaries.  When business is good, it may be prudent to tie more bonus dollars to goals achieved.

Second, do your research, know your competition.  Every organization can benefit from reputable industry salary surveys such as the WageWatch PeerMark™ and Benchmark reports, to determine competitive salaries.  You should utilize salary survey data from the local market, your industry and from organizations of similar size.  Work within your organization’s salary philosophy and the given financial situation to determine where to set salaries.

In addition to looking externally to market competition, look internally to ensure your internal pay structure and salaries are fair and equitable.  Whether you like it or not, employees will discuss pay with one another.  Ensure fair and equitable pay levels between employees in the same jobs, in the same departments, and jobs of comparable worth within your organization. Formal salary ranges within the organization where people with similar responsibilities and authority are grouped into the same salary range help to maintain internal equity.   Set clear goals for what you want to achieve by setting salaries at certain levels.  For example, you may pay an entry level manager less than market if you are hiring inexperience and providing a training and growth opportunity in exchange.  Open and clear communication regarding the company’s salary structure and pay philosophy can aid in employees’ understanding of the methods used in determining their salary level and assist in demonstrating fairness and equity.

Merit pay is one of the most frequently used methods to drive employee performance.  To be effective it needs to be linked to performance in a manner that is consistent with the mission of the organization.  Merit increases can become de-motivating when your performance measurement system is flawed and/or inconsistently applied or when the merit increase amount that is linked to performance is inconsistently administered.  Also with merit increases typically averaging 2 to 3 percent, studies show that increases lower than 7% are unlikely to have any impact on employee performance.  What can help is applying behavioral principles to your pay for performance program such as giving employees a personal stake in the success of the company by showing a clear link between their efforts and results.  Many companies base their compensation plan on time and not results. Of course, time is a factor and needs to be part of the equation. However, if you pay for results, you will get results.

A well planned salary and total rewards package will motivate your employees, help your company maintain a competitive advantage and help retain key employees.  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 .

Posted in Uncategorized on November 13th, 2013 · Comments Off on Can Salary Motivate Employees?

FLSA Salary Basis Test

The application and rules for the federal FLSA salary basis test are often misunderstood and not administered accurately or consistently.  During my human resource career I have seen mistakes made regarding this rule over and over again.

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 (ie., administrative, executive, professional, computer, 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 workweek,
  • When an exempt performs no work for a full workweek.

For the following 2 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.

WageWatch salary surveys provide data tools and report statistics for analysts of all experience levels. Please contact WageWatch if you need assistance with interpretation the statistics reported, help building custom reports, or have a need for our wide range of consulting services. For more information on our services and surveys please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online .

Posted in Uncategorized on November 6th, 2013 · Comments Off on FLSA Salary Basis Test

Compensation: Beyond the Paycheck

When money is tight, employers have to get creative when it comes to employee rewards.  Fortunately, there are multiple little to no cost ways to show your employees how much their hard work is valued and appreciated.  Non-monetary compensation includes any benefit or reward that an employee receives from their employer that does not have a tangible value. This includes career and social rewards such as praise and recognition, opportunity for growth, job security, flexible hours, task enjoyment and friendships.  Recognition of accomplishments and regular communication are rated by full and part time office workers among the top non-monetary rewards.  Monetary rewards cannot be replaced but should definitely be supplemented by some or all of these non-monetary rewards and benefits.  Non-monetary rewards can raise employees’ self-esteem and in turn increase their motivation to work. Non-financial rewards can often satisfy employees just as well as financial by making them feel like a valued part of an organization.

A challenging job that offers employees a chance to learn new skills and grow is consistently scored high by employees when asked about job satisfaction.  Employees appreciate the opportunity to be part of the team, to work closely with management, and to be involved in key decisions.  Given the opportunity to be involved in or take on new projects and to learn new skills fills an intrinsic need in many employees as well as provides development for advancement.  Other ways to offer learning and development opportunities might include giving time off to attend classes or conferences, bringing a topic expert in to speak to a group, on-line training programs, or encouraging involvement in professional and trade associations. These types of programs can often be performed outside of working hours and the return on investment to the company can be huge.

Career advancement is also important to employees.  Employers with a formal career path program that helps employees meet their career goals, are much more likely to retain employees.  With a clear and present career path, employees will not only understand there is room to grow, but that efforts will be made from the top down to facilitate that career growth. This can create employee loyalty and a genuine caring about the business.

Recognition of employees’ work and efforts can be far too infrequent in today’s high paced work environments, but are vital to employees’ job satisfaction.  Recognition can be given in many forms from simple verbal praise to special achievement awards.  Sincere praise and thanks given to employees for their hard work and efforts is invaluable and can take many forms such as cards, lunch or coffee outings, or creating a mini break celebration to recognize them in front of team members.  Some examples of special recognition awards include a reserved parking space, employee of the month, a public thank you, mention in the company newsletter, an extra vacation day, service anniversary celebrations, annual awards ceremonies or lunch with the CEO and executive team.

Flexible hours and a relaxed work environment can increase desire and motivation. Giving a little latitude in work schedules to allow employees to take time for family or personal issues can go a long way to building trusting, good relationships with workers. Also, providing leeway within reason on dress code can make for a much more relaxing and comfortable work environment.  Many offices are trending toward more casual dress every day instead of just ‘casual Fridays’.  A relaxed work environment also applies to things like personal calls, flexible break times and allowing employees to work from home.

These are just a few of the non-monetary benefits or compensation that can go a long way in creating Employee/Employer loyalty and respect. Of course monetary compensation and awards cannot be ignored.  As a company, it is important to utilize benefits survey data, compensation surveys and salary reports in order to plan a budget, including competitive employee salaries and benefits. Competitive pay, together with employee recognition and other non-monetary compensation will help you to hire and retain a happy, talented team.  WageWatch surveys over 5,000 hotels, resorts and casino properties in the United States and the Caribbean.  WageWatch’s proprietary survey process enables human resources professionals to access the most up-to-date and accurate wage and benefits data and prepare custom reports based on their needs and requirements. Additionally the WageWatch Compensation Consulting Team is available to assist you with all of your compensation needs such as pay structure design and implementation, market competitive analysis, internal equity audits to address employer concerns and add creditability to pay practices and much more. For more information, please contact WageWatch at 480-237-6130 or contact us online.

Posted in Uncategorized on October 30th, 2013 · Comments Off on Compensation: Beyond the Paycheck

Best Practices for Benefits Open Enrollment

For most organizations employee benefits account for 20 – 30% of total compensation spend and studies have found that 60% of employees under value their benefits and money is left on the table.  Often, this is because employees don’t know or understand their benefit offerings.  And what employees don’t know can hurt them.  Employees do have responsibility for learning about their benefits but employers also have a responsibility to communicate effectively.  Many organizations are currently into annual open enrollment for their benefit programs.  Below are some best practices for benefit offerings, open enrollment and benefit communications.

  •  Develop a brand for your employee benefits program that includes company name and include the brand on each and every communication.  This will help the employee recognize the communication and not inadvertently toss it in the trash.
  • Start early with your open enrollment communication to deliver the information piece meal instead of 1 large packet in one delivery.  Some information can be delivered in advance such as Wellness Benefits or what’s changing and what’s new.
  • Communicate benefits throughout the year to help with education.  Plan the communications strategically to align with events such as the annual deadline to file claims for the Flexible Spending Account or promote certain wellness benefits such as GYN visits or mammography during the same month that the annual ‘Susan G Komen Race For the Cure’ is happening.
  • Look back historically to what benefits employees have most frequently not taken advantage of.  Put a dollar value on these and send the information to employees.  This can get their attention as well as help educate.
  • Deliver benefit information through various venues; Emails, home mailers, worksite meetings and online tools are examples.
  • Make information available to spouses and partners who are involved in the benefit decisions.  Invite them to your worksite benefit meetings and fairs.
  • Make your communications marketing smart.  Use the same fonts, color scheme and logos.  Keep it simple but get their attention.
  • Develop FAQs in advance, especially for new benefits and benefit changes.
  • Adding hypothetical situations or stories are a great way to train and educate your employees on how to choose and how to use their benefits.
  • Share employer cost information.  Most employees have no idea how much employers are spending on their benefits.  This may even help make the employee cost more palatable.
  • Provide more than one healthcare plan option to your employees.  One size does not fit all.  Ensure that your communications include a side by side comparison of the differences between the options to help employees pick the best option for themselves and their family.
  • Provide tips or a -how-to document’ to guide your employees through the steps they should take in selecting their benefit plans.
  • Educate your employees on their wellness benefits.   Make sure they understand what the plan offers to them for little or no cost such as 2 dental cleanings per year, 1 wellness exam, mammograms, colonoscopy etc.
  • Discourage passive enrollment.  Encourage employees to scrutinize all of their health plan choices for the upcoming year. For example, electing a different plan may result in less out of pocket cost.  Provide them with questions they should be asking themselves such as; Have plan costs increased? Have their own healthcare needs changed? Will they be adding or removing any dependents?
  • Communicate and promote the tools that are available to your employees to assist in benefit decisions such as cost calculators.
  • And for 2014 make sure that you address the ACA and its impact on their benefit choices.

Employee benefit offerings can be a key part of maintaining a competitive advantage and being able to retain key employees.  At WageWatch our compensation consultants can assist with your organization’s total compensation needs and help you ensure that your compensation and benefit 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 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 .

Posted in Uncategorized on October 23rd, 2013 · Comments Off on Best Practices for Benefits Open Enrollment

Understanding Salary Survey Results

Every organization uses its own methods of analyzing and applying salary survey results.  Different surveys are used for different purposes.  Some emphasize industry data, while others look more to geographic competitors.  Some salary surveys look closer at organizations that match their size in in terms of revenue or number of employees.  Diversity, in analyzing survey results can reflect the flexibility of the compensation manager to adjust their analysis to deal with a variety of circumstances.  Important questions to ask are; with who are we competing with for the job(s), and to where and why are we losing good employees.  The answers to these questions may vary for different positions in your organization.   For example, you are probably competing nationally for your top executives, and will want to look for national executive surveys and compare to companies of similar size, and revenue.  You also may want to look at your own industry as well as all industries.  For your line level managers and hourly staff, you are most likely competing on a local market level and will want to select a survey with local competitors.

While there may not be a standard approach to salary survey analysis, there are best practices to assist you with quality and accuracy.  A common first step is to ensure you are matching your jobs to the survey jobs accurately.  This is the foundation on which you will build your analysis and results.  Most surveys will contain only benchmark jobs that will be essentially the same across the participating companies and industries. If the job description is similar but not identical, and the survey data is not disaggregated by closeness of match, the data may be weighted according to the match.  This technique is called survey leveling.  If the job in the survey has more responsibilities, some analysts adjust the survey data by multiplying a percentage factor to bring its pay closer in comparability to the employer’s job.  For some hybrid jobs, you may be able to look at two or more survey jobs and adjust each survey job by a percentage factor, then combine for a total salary comparison of your hybrid job. The WageWatch PeerMark™ Surveys are designed for individual industries and the job descriptions will be for the industry for which it was designed.

After you have matched your job descriptions, selecting competitors is an important next step.  First, you need to select as many comparable competitors as possible in your market.  Too few will not provide a good statistical output.  When you look at the survey report results and see pay data that looks surprisingly high or low, it is likely that you did not have a large enough sample and a low number of matches for the position may be the cause.  More than one survey report can also be helpful in analyzing data.  After selecting your competitors and running your report, if you find you are missing data for some key positions or simply finding low matches on many positions, you may want to run a second report.  If there are more competitors in or near your local market, rerun the report with the same competitors as your first report, adding additional competitors, select the same positions and you may find data for the additional positions.  To analyze this data, you will need to compare both report results for each position.  Understanding that your second report may have included competitors that may not be as close a match as your original competitor selection, the comparison of the two reports will help guide you with your analysis of the results.

Make sure you are familiar with the statistics used in the survey.  For example, frequency distribution is the arranging of the data reported in the survey from lowest to highest.  From the frequency distribution, surveys report the varying percentiles of the data (i.e., 25th, median, and 75th percentiles).  The Median is often used by organizations as their baseline because it is the center of the data distribution. In distributions that are not symmetrical and or I which there are outliers, the Average maybe located somewhat away from the central tendency..  The median should be compared to the average.  This comparison will give you a better sense of the range of pay in the data reported. A close alignment of these two will give added weight to the value and usefulness.  Weighting the data is important especially when a significant amount of the data is coming from one or two competitors.  A weighted average will equalize the data and provide you a better statistical result of what the market is paying for that job.

Survey analysis is about studying and understanding the data, comparing the market data to your organization’s data, knowing your competitive market, and identifying anomalies and then finding the reason.  You should also include into your analysis what the survey does not give you.  For example, maybe the survey is telling you that the market is paying considerably higher for a position than you are.  While this is not something you want to ignore, you may find that you have long term employees in the position and have had no problems with turnover. Perhaps there are other perks or incentives that your organization provides that make up for the lower pay level.

WageWatch salary surveys provide data tools and report statistics for analysts of all experience levels. Please contact WageWatch if you need assistance with interpretation the statistics reported, help building custom reports, or have a need for our wide range of consulting services. For more information on our services and surveys please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online .

Posted in Uncategorized on October 17th, 2013 · Comments Off on Understanding Salary Survey Results