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Archive for October, 2013

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

The Healthcare Exchanges are Open for Business: “Week 2”

The health insurance exchanges or marketplace opened last week but not without problems and drama making headlines.  During the first week, computer glitches due to overwhelming numbers visiting the exchanges seems to be the popular consensus as to why “millions” could not connect.  I made several attempts last week to create an account and each time was met with a new problem; security questions did not populate, I received an inaccurate error message regarding my security answers, and also completed the steps to set up my account just to be met with another error message.  But I kept trying.  This week, I was able to complete setting up an account, got into the sight and begin browsing around, so progress is being made.  If you’ve encountered similar problems, my advice is to keep trying.  There will be a lot to learn and review once you get into the system.  Although you have officially until March 2014 to enroll without penalty, give yourself enough time to learn about your healthcare options so that you select the best plan for you.

The glitches and the headlines are very similar to the ones when Medicare was implemented.  Some initial program design and operational issues are not unusual.  Despite the initial glitches, the exchanges will change the way health insurance is purchased and over the long term, transform the entire health care system.  I have managed employer health care plans for the past 20+ years and each and every open enrollment has been met with its challenges.  And the challenges were always much greater when there were major changes being implemented.  Buying health insurance is not an easy task for most of us and purchasing health insurance through the exchanges will be similar to how we book a vacation on travel sights such as Expedia or Travelocity.  The exchanges allow lots of options to be viewed and compared, as well as provide greater transparency around price, quality and consumer ratings.

If you’re one of the more than 45 million people without health insurance through Medicaid, Medicare or your Employer, the enrollment process began on Oct. 1, and if you elect a plan, your insurance will start Jan 1, 2014. The deadline to purchase (or face a penalty at tax time in 2015) is March 31, 2014.  Ideally you will want to be enrolled before the end of December 2013 to have your healthcare insurance in place by January 2014.  Don’t wait until the last few weeks to get started, the volumes on the site are likely to be much greater as the end of the year approaches.  Below are some tips to help you get started.

Keep trying, they are fixing the glitches and the selection and purchase of your healthcare insurance is important.

  • If you don’t find what you need with the “Help” options on the website, there is a live chat option, a customer service #1-800-318-2596 where you can discuss your options with a trained representative and apply over the phone.  Be patient and persistent with the call wait times.
  • Visit LocalHelp.HealthCare.gov to find personal help in your area.
  • Leave yourself more than enough time to carefully review and fully understand your options
  • The plans that are offered are categorized as bronze, silver, gold or platinum. The cheapest is a bronze plan which covers 60% of an individual’s estimated health care costs, and the most expensive a platinum plan will cover 90% of costs.
  • Consider your health needs in selecting the best option for you.  How often do you see a doctor, or go to an emergency room or urgent care center?  Do you see any specialists or have any specific current health needs?
  • Your cost is more than the premium; you need to weigh in the copays, coinsurance, maximum out-of-pocket cost and deductibles.
  • Make sure all of your doctors, including specialists, accept the specific plan you’re considering
  • If you will need to select a new doctor, make sure the new doctor you select is accepting new patients
  • Make sure the insurance company has enough specialists and hospitals for your specific plan
  • Understand the prescription benefit, whether the copay is a fixed amount or percentage and understand the coverage tiers, ie., generic, preferred and non-preferred.  Ask for the formulary list to find out which coverage tier your medications are on
  • Healthcare insurance is insurance and you are paying for your healthcare needs as well as insuring for the unexpected.

The exchanges will allow people who don’t have coverage through Medicaid, Medicare or their employer to comparison-shop for the best individual plan in their state on HealthCare.gov.  If you’re uninsured, you have to purchase health insurance for 2014 or face a fine on your 2014 tax return of $95 or 1% of your income, whichever is larger.

The experts at WageWatch want you to know how important it is to be aware of the new policies under the Affordable Care Act and their effect on small businesses. Employers need to properly plan for the future by developing accurate budgets that take the changing costs of healthcare benefits into consideration for the year 2014 and beyond. For assistance with your budget, WageWatch offers cost-effective reports, including salary, wages and benefits survey data. To learn more about the services provided by WageWatch, please call 888-330-9343 for assistance or contact us online.

Posted in Uncategorized on October 9th, 2013 · Comments Off on The Healthcare Exchanges are Open for Business: “Week 2”

Statistics for Compensation: Part 2

Data in its raw form, a string or table of numbers, is of little to no value in compensation. Data has to be summarized, described, and presented with particular analysis so that a decision can be made. The key to understanding compensation market data is to report data in a way that is easy to understand.

In the WageWatch Market Competitive Survey, subscribers select their competitors which create a custom set of data from peer organizations. The PeerMark Report™ contains useful statistics to measure the location of data with the set. The report shows where the central part of the data is in the form average and percentiles.

In prior blogs, we have presented central tendency in part as a discussion of average (simple mean) and median. Since then we have also introduced weighted average to the report which is another measure of central tendency. These points are provided on the report because all are needed to answer the question, ‘Which statistic to use for benchmarking?’ The answer is ‘It depends’.

The weighted average is used when the number of incumbents in the competitive set needs to be taken into account such as when comparing data sets that contain both very small and very large companies.  In an extreme example, if we had a city with only two hotel companies one with 10 housekeepers and the other with 1,000 housekeepers – then the one with 1,000 housekeepers dominates the marketplace and would determine the prevailing rate for this job. Here, weighted average would best represent the market rate.

The simple mean, also called average, is an unweighted calculation. Weighing competitors equally is a hedge against the unknown and is the recommended calculation when there are other competitors in the marketplace that have not participated in the survey. We do not know if the missing companies are big or small, pay low or high. This is why the simple mean is considered representative of market values.

There is an advanced metric called the Combination Mean which is the average of the simple mean and the weighted average. This gives equal importance to the number of incumbents and number of companies in the set.

We introduced percentiles in Part 1 of this blog topic. The percentiles and averages together describe what the shape of the data distribution of the competitive set “looks” like. The bell shaped distribution with a peak in the middle and tails on both ends, is called a normal distribution. While a true normal distribution is purely theoretical, there are many examples in the data are approximately normal.

The closer the market median and the market average wages are to each other, the more normal the distribution. In most reports, the median and averages rates will be within a dollar of each other. If the average is much greater than the median, the hump of the curve is skewed, leaning to the right creating a long tail on the left. This indicates a “hot job”, where the trend is to pay above market median. If the average is less than the median, the skew is to the left creating a long tail to the right indicating the job is cooling down.

WageWatch reports 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 3rd, 2013 · Comments Off on Statistics for Compensation: Part 2