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Posts Tagged “Compensation and Benefits Surveys”

TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE OF ADA ISSUES

Day in and day out, we at Pautsch Spognardi & Baiocchi Legal Group LLP, get more questions about disability discrimination and accommodation than any other law.  We developed a quiz to alert you to some of the tougher ADA issues. Answers will be provided in next week’s iBrief™.  (Questions developed by Charles Pautsch/Lisa Baiocchi)

QUIZ – Are the Following Questions True(?) or False(?)

  1. The Americans with Disabilities Act and state laws providing protections against disability discrimination cover employers with 15 or more employees, and not those with less.
  2. So long as you treat an employee who is an individual with a disability the same as all other employees you will comply with the requirements of ADA.
  3. ADA and state discrimination laws against disability discrimination require equal treatment between employees with disabilities and those employees that do not have disabilities.
  4. Depressive disorder is a covered disability under ADA.
  5. An employee who suffers a compound fracture of their tibia and fully recovers from this injury and receives a full release for work in four months’ time is likely covered by ADA due to this condition.
  6. An employee who suffers an Achilles tear in her left foot and is fully released for a return to work after exactly one year is covered under ADA.
  7. An employee whose only physical limitation on her medical release for work is a 15-pound lifting restriction is not covered by ADA.
  8. An employee whose only physical limitation on his medical release for work is a 50-pound lifting restriction is not covered by ADA.
  9. Migraine headaches are not a covered disability under ADA.
  10. The definition that sets forth the requirements for qualifying as an “individual with a disability under ADA” is essentially the same as that defining a “serious health condition” under the FMLA.

DO YOU PAY EQUITABLY AND FAIRLY ENOUGH TO SATISFY EEOC?

You may think you are paying your employees fairly and equitably until the EEOC comes knocking at your door to perform an audit. It is commonly known that EEOC requires that all employees are treated fairly regardless of national origin, race, religion, color, sex (including pregnancy and sexual orientation), disability or genetic information. And for employers with 20 or more employees, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act requires that you treat workers over 40 the same and younger workers. To be in complete compliance with EEO regulations, none of these factors can be used when you are hiring, promoting, disciplining and laying off workers. Additionally, private employers with at least 15 employees who work for you for 20 weeks or more a year must also comply with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and if you have a federal contract or subcontract you may be subject to EEO guidelines. Less commonly known is that fair treatment must also be extended to employees who marry someone of a different national origin, race, religion or color. What you don’t know can hurt you and therefore periodic pay equity self-audits are essential.

All forms of pay are covered by these regulations, for example; base salary, overtime pay, shift differentials, discretionary or non-discretionary bonuses, stock options, profit sharing plans, life insurance, vacation and holiday pay, travel expenses, and benefits. If an inequality in wages between men and women is found, it cannot be corrected by reducing the wages of either sex.

To properly analyze your pay practices, you need to identify all factors that influence all types of compensation. Influencing factors may include:

• Company seniority
• Length of time in position
• Service interruptions
• Skills and experience required for the job
• Education, certifications, licenses, etc. required for the job
• Performance ratings
• Pay grade or level
• Historic pay increases
• Market Location
• Employment status such as Full-time/Part-time

Pay equity analysis should be performed that includes analysis by job group or salary grade; if no formal salary structure is in place, group by jobs with similar value and worth. Also, analyze by race and by gender. Ensure all your pay decisions are well documented as well as having good document retention policies in place. Of utmost importance is that you apply your compensation practices in a consistent manner and in accordance with your policies and procedures. If audited by the EEOC, you may need to defend your pay decisions and consistency and documentation will be crucial.

To protect your organization as well as ensure fair and equitable pay to all employees, it is essential to understand and stay up to date with all the regulations, ensure policies and procedures are in place for compliance and to perform periodic compliance audits. Even if you are in compliance today, that can easily and quickly change as your organization changes and evolves. Mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures can significantly impact pay equity as well as the day-to-day business operations of hiring, terminating, promoting, transferring, and restructuring within the organization including the realignment of job duties.

At WageWatch our experienced compensation consultants can assist with your organization’s compensation needs. We can help you ensure internal equity and compliance with regulations as well as help you structure your compensation programs to support your company’s business strategy and objectives. WageWatch also offers accurate, up-to-date benefit survey data, market compensation data and salary reports that will allow you to stay current with the times. This information is highly beneficial in creating the best salary and benefits packages that meet or rival the industry standards. For more information on our services, including consulting, salary survey data, benefit survey data and market compensation reports, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

HUMAN RESOURCES SHIFTING FOCUS FOR 2017

The traditional workforce is changing faster than our organizations can keep up and the way employees work is becoming more fluid, flexible, and dynamic.  In 2017 Human Resource leaders need to rethink traditional policies to meet the needs of a more open, expressive, and changing workforce.  With changing demographics and a more competitive job market, human resources are more challenged than ever before to hire, engage, maintain, and keep employees happy and motivated.  Human Resource Professionals should strive to become more innovative, nimble, and observant, and to create agiler human-natured organizations.

Millennials are now the predominant group in the workplace and we have the most diverse, multi-generational workforce in history. HR professionals are challenged with understanding what drives each group and trying to keep everyone happy.  Benefits and other programs may need to be redesigned to meet those needs.

Over the last couple of decades, technology has made it easier to work and to be expected to work beyond the 40-hour workweek.  While some jobs truly require this, many don’t.   More employees are now pushing back on this trend.  Employers who limit intrusions into employees’ time off will have an edge in attracting and retaining good employees who want to be able to leave their jobs at the office. Help people take time off.  Many employees don’t use all the vacation time that their benefits package offers. This may be because they don’t feel that their workload allows it or due to workplace culture.  Studies show that well-rested, refreshed employees are more productive and less likely to burn out.

Workers want more choice and flexibility in how they approach tasks, for example, more opportunities to work collaboratively.  They look for more opportunities to change duties, for exploration, to learn and to advance in their career in a less linear way.   Put more into training and developing staff.  As companies have tried to do more work for less money, their employees often bear the brunt of those sacrifices.  Make this the year that you invest in your employees as a long-term investment in your organization.

While recent years have been tough on business, it has also been tough on employees.  As business tightened its belt, employees were expected to take on more work, more hours, and more stress.  Budgets may still be tight, but recognizing and rewarding your employees’ efforts is essential.   Get creative with rewards.  Find out what your employees need and want.

Make sure feedback is timely, appropriate, and genuine. This will go a long way with the employee and makes for a more positive workplace environment overall.  Feedback is one of the strongest tools managers have for getting better results from their teams.  Talking to your employees about the areas in which you’d like to see improve or describing what you’d like to see done differently can go a long way toward making that change happen.  Positive feedback will generally keep people motivated and display the behaviors that drove the praise in the first place.

2017 will continue to see our workplaces evolve into more humane, people-centered spaces. Rather than reacting to pressure from business leaders and employees, HR leaders will need to rethink traditional policies to meet the needs of a more open and expressive workforce, taking a front seat in driving successful business outcomes.

WageWatch offers accurate, up-to-date benefit survey data, market compensation data and salary reports that will allow you to stay current with the times. This information is highly beneficial in creating the best salary, incentive 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.

INNOVATION IN HUMAN RESOURCES TODAY

How can human resources contribute to innovation?  How can we turn new ideas into reality, break old paradigms and step outside of the box with new solutions to old problems?  Innovation may begin with creativity but it is more than an idea — it takes place when great ideas come to fruition and make their mark in the world.  In the past, most businesses focused on continuous improvement of their products and services to maintain a competitive edge.  But in today’s economy, that’s not always enough.

As Human Resource professionals, we are fortunate to be responsible for many areas of an organization that can directly impact and contribute to innovation; including recruitment, performance management, recognition, rewards, training, and employee engagement.  Human Resources can also play a key role in creating an organizational structure and overall culture that fosters and supports innovation.

Recruiting can focus on hiring for innovation by identifying people who can “think outside the box” or have skills and capabilities that lend toward innovation.  Performance management can serve as a valuable tool in the creation of a sustainable culture of innovation.  Performance measures can give consideration as to whether or not employees are given the time and resources to experiment, generate and explore ideas, and make presentations to management.  Rewards can be used to reinforce the importance of innovation and recognition can be used to encourage and inspire employees to innovate and share ideas.   HR’s role in organizational design provides huge potential for enabling innovation.  For example, organizational design can be used to facilitate easier exchange of employees’ ideas across boundaries and functions.

An example of a human resource driven innovation that used an out-of-the-box idea to improve the recruiting process is La Canterra Resort in San Antonio, TX, A Destination Hotel, they have incorporated an idea made popular by Disney, the Fast PASS. In Disney’s version, guests can avoid the line and use a Fast PASS to get a ticket to ride an attraction at a specified time with limited to no waiting. This helps improve the guest experience, improves wait times, improves communication and enhances the ability to meet the expectation of guests. At Destination Hotels, they have incorporated this concept into their recruitment practices. Special “FAST PASS” cards are given to managers who can spot people in their daily interactions (at grocery stores, restaurants, bars, the mall, etc…) providing exceptional customer service and invite them to consider an employment opening/opportunity with Destination. They can call a specific number and get a “prioritized / guaranteed” in person interview as opposed to filling out an application during certain hours and hoping to a chance to be considered. Like Disney, the approach at Destination Hotels, improves the experience for the candidate and the HR function / hiring managers. It speeds up the ability to source the most qualified talent and create a match to open positon needs at the resort. Destination competes on innovation.

While HR can have a significant impact on many of the key drivers of innovation, it is a collaborative process and requires many areas to come together in order to succeed.    Executive leaders hold the key to the level and success of innovation in their organization. They control the strategic direction, influence the culture, and directly and indirectly control all organizational practices.   Managers must know how to lead innovative teams, and individuals must know how to apply innovative thinking.  Every department or function must be part of the process.  For example, Information Technology has become an enabler of innovative ideas, but it is also often the starting point for innovative products or services and Finance has a unique opportunity through the budget development to add innovation either as a line in the overall budget or as a percentage of every departmental budget.

Organizations need to develop practices that make it easier to innovate.  For example, at the core of an organization’s culture should be an acceptance of the need to experiment and understand that this comes with the risk of failure and that failure needs to be seen as a learning experience and an important step in the process.  Culture is definitely key to sustainable innovation.  The mindset and culture of the HR team has an exponential impact and influence on the entire organization.  HR leaders can help enable their organizations to differentiate themselves by understanding the critical importance of innovation today and how their role can contribute by attracting and keeping the most innovative people, constantly improving their skills and creating and enabling a culture of innovation.

WageWatch offers accurate, up-to-date HR metrics, benefit survey data, market compensation data and salary reports that will allow you to stay current with the times. This information is highly beneficial in creating the best salary and benefits packages that meet or rival the industry standards. The PeerMark™ Wage Survey is the only Web-based custom survey tool that allows individual survey participants to select their competitive set for comparison purposes.  Our experienced compensation consultants can assist with your organization’s compensation needs.  We can help you ensure internal equity and compliance with regulations as well as help you structure your compensation programs to support your company’s business strategy and objectives.   For more information on our services, including consulting, salary survey data, benefit survey data and market compensation reports, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

The Impact of the Affordable Care Act on Business: Part 2

Last December 2012, we here at WageWatch wrote how the Affordable Care Act was already causing much confusion for American companies as well as for the general public. The law, as passed, was over 2,500 pages long and requires thousands of additional pages of regulatory policy in order to be enacted.  Now, less than a year later, there have been changes and updates to the new law and the regulatory policies surrounding it. As employer, it is easy to get caught in the details and lose sight of the big picture.

Most of our Human Resources clients have already begun planning for a post-ACA world in 2014. For those who have not, let’s take a look on where to start and how to navigate the employer concerns.

To begin, management needs to have a conversation regarding the company’s philosophy towards employee health benefits. Look to what the organization has done in the past and use that as a road map for the future. What was the philosophy before the ACA? Did it successfully support your organizational goals? Does the philosophy need to change comply with ACA?

There has been a significant change to the ACA recently. The employer mandate, which is the penalty that will be incurred by employers with more than 50 employees if they do not offer health insurance to full time workers, has been delayed a year from 2014 to 2015.

The intent of the employer mandate was to prevent disruptions to currently insured employees by disincentivizing employers from eliminating existing healthcare plans. However, because employers will not face a penalty if it employs less than 50 full time workers, many were concerned the employer mandate would create an incentive to employ part-time workers instead of full-time.

The Administration’s goals in delaying the mandate by one year was to allow the government more time to simplify reporting requirements and to provide employers more time to adapt. The announcement was met with criticism from the opposing political party as a politically motivated move.

The delay does give employers one more year to adjust their current benefit offerings to be ACA compliant. To do so, these plans need to meet or exceed the following four requirements:

  1. Provide minimum essential health benefits as defined;
  2. No annual or lifetime limits on these essential benefits;
  3. No copayments or deductibles on preventive care; and
  4. No Pre-existing conditions, guaranteed issue regardless of medical condition

Employers, with 50 or more FTEs, who will not or cannot offer a plan that meets or exceeds these requirements, will suffer a $2,000 per full time employee penalty.

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 Benefits & Compensation on August 15th, 2013 · Comments Off on The Impact of the Affordable Care Act on Business: Part 2

Total Rewards: What’s Hot and What’s Not

A variety of factors are influencing and changing the landscape of compensation and benefits today. With the uncertain economic outlook, employers continue to be asked to do more with less and continue to look for new ways to contain labor costs.  The millennial generation, are very worried about running out of money in retirement and they are focused on their long term financial security.  Boomers are working beyond the age of 65 and appreciate the benefits that their employers provide – even at a higher cost.  Employees today are less loyal then in the past, impacting employee retention and organizational competitiveness. 

Since the economic crisis began in 2008, salary increases fell to historic lows and still remain low.  Many organizations have reduced overtime and cut staff to levels where any further reductions to payroll expenses are largely exhausted.  Employers are looking more toward employee benefits for future cost cutting.   As for compensation, current base salary increases still hover around 3 percent.   Though the number continues to drop, there are still a few organizations implementing salary freezes.  Overall employers are now trying to finding a balance between cost containment and employee retention.  Many employers are shifting to pay-for-performance to drive compensation decisions.  There is also a stronger focus on employee retention.  Employers are offering additional retirement and benefit choices and restructuring their salary scales adding more differentiation between grades in an effort to motivate employees.  Incentive compensation continues to be important and organizations rate this among the top factors impacting total compensation decisions. 

The face of employee benefits is also changing impacted by the same factors as compensation but also significantly impacted by the Affordable Care Act.  Employers are implementing more wellness benefits in hopes of reducing costs and boosting productivity.  High Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs) are increasing in popularity, driven by the need to manage increasing financial obligations.  Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plans are still the most common option but HDHPs are now the second most prevalent plan ahead of Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs).  Other core welfare benefits including dental, life, short and long term disability and vision insurance remain strong.

Defined contribution (DC) plans continue to be the dominant retirement savings program and automatic enrollment continues to gain popularity.  Defined Benefit Pensions are slowly disappearing.  Most employers continue to offer matching contributions in their DC plans.

Recent surveys show the following benefits and perks are significantly down and some have almost disappeared:

  • Company Sports teams
  • Take your kid to work day
  • Temporary relocation benefits
  • Tickets to sporting and other events
  • Floating holidays
  • Long-term care

The following are becoming more popular: 

  • Wellness incentives
  • Onsite fitness classes and/or health and life coaching
  • Coverage for mental health, laser vision, and acupuncture
  • Same Sex Domestic Partner Benefits
  • On site mothers/lactation room
  • Paid time off plans
  • Employee referral bonus plans
  • Retirement and individual investment advice
  • Traditional voluntary benefit plans such as supplemental life
  • Non-traditional voluntary benefits such as group legal plans

Maintaining a competitive advantage and being able to retain key employees is increasingly important.  At WageWatch our compensation consultants can assist with your organization’s compensation needs and help you ensure that your compensation programs are supporting your company’s business strategy and objectives.  WageWatch also offers accurate, up-to-date benefit 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 .

Budget Boot Camp

For many HR Directors, drafting the annual HR department budget comes with the understanding that future project costs will be hyper inflated with the expectation that the majority of it will be left on the cutting room floor leaving a shoe-string level of funding for critical projects. If this matches your experience, this week’s blog on budgeting fundamentals and best practices can help. What the C-suite is trying to do is systematically collect financial data from the department heads and then prioritizes the budget dollars based on the degree to which they support organizational objectives. Developing a budget is a process with two common methods.

  1. Incremental budgeting – the current budget as a starting point and a new budget is developed by making adjustments upwards or downwards to each item based upon expectations.
  2. Zero-based budgeting – every item included in the budget must be justified before being included; therefore, the process begins with a blank page.

Regardless of which method your company uses, the critical step in preparing to write the budget is understanding the company’s objectives and how HR will need to respond in support. This means not only talking with the C-suite but also the other department heads. Will the company opening a new warehouse or office?  When is the next new product scheduled to be brought to market? Is a new IT system rolling out? Are there any mergers or acquisitions planned? Entering any new markets?

 Providing market based salary and benefits data for current and new job classes is a key part of the budgeting process. From a human resource perspective, the answers to these objectives impact company labor in several ways:

  1. The number of full and part time employees needed next year;
  2. Number of temporary staff or contractors needed next year;
  3. Benefit cost increases due to changes in headcount, vendor fees, or policy;
  4. Projected turnover rate with associated recruitment and onboarding costs;
  5. New compensation and benefit plans offered; and
  6. Impact of new or changed laws such as minimum wage, worker’s compensation, or insurance.

Most HR budgets cover operating expenses, such as the items listed above. Your HR budget may also contain capital expenditures. The difference between these two types of budgets is that operating expenses are for goods and service that are consumed or used up during the budget period whereas a capital expenditure is for an asset or project with a useful life beyond that period. For example, criminal background checks for new hires are an operating expense and a new HR information system is a capital expense. It is important to identify capital costs because they may require special funding sources such as a bank loan or selling of other assets.

It is also important to determine which projects and services are recurring or non-recurring. A recurring cost would be payroll expense. A non-recurring cost would be employment attorney fees. Knowing which items are recurring will help after the fact in managing expenses and identifying budget variances.

The opening paragraph spoke to inflated budgets and deep cuts. Much of this occurs to areas considered discretionary and contingency spending. Wide budget variances, both positive and negative, often result due to inaccurate forecasting or misunderstanding of company goals. WageWatch salary survey data provides the most current industry market metrics needed to build your compensation and benefits budgets.

At WageWatch, our expert HR team provides businesses in a large range of industries with accurate and timely survey data, Our benefits surveys and salary reports ensure that salary and benefits plans are on par with those in the industry. For more information on market compensation data, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online at (WageWatch.com).

Market Analysis: Median or Mean

Median and mean are useful measures of distribution that identify central values and tendencies of a data set. In a WageWatch compensation survey, median is the middle wage in a set of ranked market wages, which separates the data set in half. When an even number of wages are ranked, with no true middle value, the average of the two middle data points is the median wage. Median is also called the 50th percentile.

The arithmetic mean which is also called the simple average or mean is one of the most commonly used statistics in business. One of the reasons is that it is very easy to calculate. It is the sum of all values of a data set divided by the number of values in that set.

In a normal distribution of data, the median and mean wages will be within a few cents of each other. When the mean is greater than the median, this indicates the data set is skewed towards higher wages. Similarly, when the mean is less than the median, this indicates the data set is skewed towards lower wages. Skewing typically occurs for one of two reasons: either the data set is not normally distributed, or the mean is affected by outliers or errors in the data set. The first situation is not uncommon and occurs when there is either wage compression or the data is bimodal, meaning that the job description may be too broad and need to be bifurcated into two job titles. The second reason for the mean and the median being significantly different, due to an outlier or data error, is much more of a concern.

Here is an example of how data affects the median and mean differently when an outlier is added to the data set.

Wages in Data Set A                                                        Wages in Data Set B
$9.25                                                                                      $9.25
$10.11                                                                                    $10.11
$10.56                                                                                   $10.56
$11.98                                                                                    $11.98
$12.50                                                                                   $12.05
$12.88                                                                                    $12.31
$125.00

Set A Median Wage $11.27                                          Set B Median Wage $11.98
Set A Mean Wage $11.21                                              Set B Mean Wage $27.32

In this example, it is clear that once the $125.00 value is added as an outlier, the median wage becomes the better indication of the central value. Comparing the median with the mean from Set B tells us that while the middle wage or median is $11.98, there appear to be employers paying at the top of the market, skewing the mean up sharply. The only way to know for certain if the difference between the median and mean is due to an error is a more thorough analysis of the data. If more data analysis is not possible, then the median is your better statistic to use.

WageWatch, Inc. is the leading compensation survey provider for over 5,000 hotels, non-profits organizations, healthcare organizations and management companies. 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.