HRA Blog

The Economy Is Improving! That’s a Good Thing…Right?

Written by Nancy Streeter on .

It seems the economy is finally on the rebound and it’s not just pundit hawking opinions on cable TV.  While new workplace statistics are providing a positive economic outlook, there are also some indications in a big shift within the job market.

CareerBuilder reports that more than one-third of employers expect to add full-time employees in 2015, the best outlook since 2006 and that salary increases are on the rise with projections at an average three percent increase for 2015. In addition, Jobvite reports that 70 percent of the workforce is either actively looking for another job or is open to hearing about a new opportunity. For those of my colleagues that work with or for a federal government contractor, expect increased scrutiny on your compensation from OFCCP during future audits, the upcoming Equal Pay Report and the soon-to-be-released Final Rule on Non-Retaliation for Disclosure for Compensation Information.

So really, what does this all mean? For the better part of the past decade, employees and employers alike have been treading water simply waiting for the economy to improve. Now that things are finally looking up, employees are looking for greener pastures (pun intended).

As the factors listed above come into play, it’s safe to say that it’s a good time to create a compensation plan or, if you already have a plan, to update it to prepare your organization for what may be coming down the road. The benefits of creating or updating your compensation plan allows an organization to:

  • Be knowledgeable about industry best practices in compensation,
  • Retain key employees,
  • Continue to attract top talent,
  • Maintain internal equity,
  • Ensure legal compliance,
  • Promote transparency and understanding about pay, and
  • Establish a platform for career paths and expanded growth opportunities for all staff.

These plans can range from very basic, to extremely complex. For smaller organizations, plan development typically is a collaboration between senior leadership and a compensation consultant. Collectively, they determine the organization’s compensation philosophy, form opinions about the current state of compensation, and evaluate a desired market position. Individual data is then collected for each employee, included in the plan and the market rate for each job is calculated before salary adjustments.

But don’t stop there! Often organizations expand tasks to include additional plan components such as job families, job levels with associated job titles, one or more salary structures, training, and a communication plan

Job families represent the functional areas in which employees work, such as software developer, accountant, engineering technician, and project manager. The job levels within each family normally include both management and non-management. Also, organizations need to ensure they are always looking to the future, so it’s important that titles match the roles outlined in each family and levels are added beyond those needed for current employees which will provide a road map for employees’ careers.

Following industry-specific, geographical and general market pricing, the next step is to develop one or more salary structures with grades and grade ranges. Each job is mapped to the appropriate grade and range based upon market pricing results. A classification structure is created to summarize the mapping results and to serve as an easy reference for managers who will be using the plan.

Based upon available data, it’s important to provisionally map each employee to a job family and level. This step is typically followed by manager meetings to discuss, revise or confirm these assignments.

As numerous studies have shown, companies that take the time to train managers and supervisors about the company’s compensation plan before rolling the plan out are much more successful. Managers and supervisors must understand how the structure was developed and their individual roles in administering it.

The final step is to communicate the new compensation plan with the entire staff with unique messaging for each employee level. Transparency about pay carries a lot of weight with today’s employees, especially millennials who are keen to understand how their pay is determined and what they need to do to advance.

Other plan output may include classification guides, job descriptions, career paths, and compensation policies and procedures, but we’ll address those more detailed plans at a future date.

So don’t rest on your laurel while you celebrate the rebounding economy, leverage this positive momentum to review your compensation practices.

Pulling Over for Directions – Mapping Your Employees’ Careers

Written by Cyndi Branciforte on .

Whenever I discuss career goals with young adults, I emphasize that life is a journey, not a race.  They frequently respond that things change and are done differently than I did when I was beginning my career.  While this isn’t the point I was trying to make, I agree with them… thing are different!

Change in the workplace is truly inevitable.  When my father was a young man, fresh out of the service with no college degree, he went to work for a local manufacturing company.  No one gave dad a road map on how to advance his career and he felt it was inappropriate to ask for this information.  He simply went to work every day, and decisions were made for him about his advancement and ultimately his career.  Forty years later, he retired from that same company.

The story of my dad’s career Pewas the norm.  However, over time things have shifted and today, knowledge and awareness of an individual’s career evolution are priorities for many. In addition, advancements in technology, lifestyles, academic expectations and general influences have changed people and how they work, changing expectations along the way.  Organizations have been required to adjust procedures, institute new benefits and create new employee-focused programs in order to recruit and retain top talent.

As HR professionals, we are tasked with tracking these developments and implementing programs that incorporate marketplace trends and tools to drive engagement, creativity and provide direction for employees.

Brian Fetherstonhaugh of Ogilvy One, wrote a blog entry describing a plan for each stage of one’s work-life.  He shared that Millennials embrace their careers like a sprint rather than a 40-year marathon.   They grew up with highly scheduled and regulated lives, and now look for that same transparency and direction from their employers when it comes to their job advancement. This is a new phenomenon in the workplace.  My dad never thought to ask for guidance or tools on how to advance his career.

Employees as well as prospective candidates want to know how they will be able to direct and advance their careers.  They want to know what skills are needed in order to advance and what their career paths look like within an organization.   These requests have many companies spending time and resources creating “road maps” that creates a transparent framework in which organizations can help develop skills and promote employees.

Over the past year, I’ve spent a lot of time helping organizations create detailed career paths within job families.  It’s a time-intensive, detail-oriented exercise for everyone involved, but one that rewards both employers and employees alike. When trying to determine if your organization can benefit from the formation of career paths, consider the following questions:

  • Do different levels of skills and performances exist within a job family (i.e., beginner, intermediate and/or advanced)?
  • Is there consistency in how employees are advanced within a job family?
  • Do managers find themselves in career discussions with employees and lack concrete knowledge or resources on how to advise them of their development?
  • Have you missed out on hiring new talent because candidates weren’t able to see their future at your company?

Once you determine that it’s in the best interest of your company to incorporate career paths for a job family, there are various components that need to be identified and examined.

  • Competencies – Competencies are those priority attributes that set a position apart and support the organizations mission, vision and core values. These general overarching themes help establish the strategic strength in a position and/or an organization.   These principal themes are continuously represented throughout a career path and supported by employee’s skills, knowledge and abilities.
  • Skills, Abilities, Knowledge and Behaviors – These progressing performance information attributes provide concrete measurement for career development and advancement.
  • Key Task Expectations – Identifying specific task provides day-to-day examples of how an employee is expected to demonstrate required skills. Training, Certifications, Education and Experience Requirements – As employees advance and increase their responsibility and knowledge, so will the requirements for training, education and experience progress.

Yes, going through these steps to create a career path for one, two or ten employee groups requires time and commitment, but the benefit can’t be overstated.  Creating career paths provides employees with the clear direction they desire to become active participants in the progress of their careers, candidates a reason to join your organization and managers the tools they need to coach and develop their staff.

In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell estimated that it takes about 10,000 hours of intense effort and practice to become excellent at something. Today’s work force, like my father, knows that being successful takes intense and sustained hard work, and most are willing to invest 10,000 hours.  However, they simply want to know where they’re going, while they’re working so hard!  Clearly defined career paths show them the way forward.

Elevating Your Organizational Brand to Recruit Talent

Written by Barbara Irwin on .

Recently I gave a presentation in Kansas City about elevating your organization’s brand in an effort to recruit and retain the best talent. The feedback and enthusiasm for the topic from the audience mirrored that of many of my clients. Many of our clients are struggling to recruit talent and retain talent.  As we see the economy picking up, this will continue to present a challenge, especially as Baby Boomers start to exit the workforce.  What do I recommend to counter this pervasive trend?  When is the last time you completed an employer brand assessment?

Usually this question catches organizations off guard. Often most organizations constantly evaluate and adapt their brand in order to attract new clients by updating case studies, customer testimonials, client win press releases and other marketing means. However, when it comes to attracting new employees, their measures fall short or leverage antiquated models.

One may say that elevating your brand for clients and talent conjures up the old cart before the horse or the chicken before the egg analogies. Without new clients you can’t hire new employees, or, without quality employees you can’t win new clients.  The dichotomy is true, however, it’s certainly something that can be done in tandem with each other.

So what are some steps that your organization can take to concurrently elevate your brand for recruitment and retention of employees?

Many organizations have great marketing departments, set up a meeting and ask for some feedback on ways that you can elevate your brand the same way they elevate the organization’s brand to potential clients. Leverage their expertise and experience.

Most organizations have a career page on their website, use this opportunity to not simply post open or available positions about your firm, use it to “market” your firm, its employees and culture. Collect employee testimonials and put them on the career page along with pictures and videos of your employees and executives describing and sharing the organizational culture. This provides a face to go along with the testimonials.

Leverage social media! Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and your corporate blog – all are incredibly powerful platforms to articulate your organization’s brand. Post pictures of your employee outings, volunteer or community work, or create video testimonials about the “experience” of working at your firm.

Some great examples of recruitment videos can be found HERE, HERE and HERE

Give your organization an identity! Prospective employees, especially Millennials, are actively using these resources to seek new opportunities, you’ll be remiss to not take advantage of these platforms. Remember, sometimes the horse pulls the cart, and sometimes the horse rides in the cart. Elevating and marketing your organizations brand is something you can do in tandem with marketing to prospective clients.