Hot Topics in Total Rewards

  • 18 Nov 2019 11:24 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)


    Valerie Bolden-Barrett


    Nov. 14, 2019

    Dive Brief:

    • It's critical that HR be able to accurately price workers' skills, PayScale said in a Nov. 12 press release.
    • That ability is central to the hiring process, which demands that HR professionals take both individuals' skills and geography into account when setting pay, the organization said; "it’s not enough to simply pay according to a location because pay can vary by specific jobs or industries." To that end, the company said, it will now offer a tool that aims to help employers put a price on skills by using big data and artificial intelligence.
    • An understanding of the value of skills can help others, too, Heather Taylor, PayScale’s head of data products, said in the statement: When managers understand the value of skills, they can be more transparent when talking with employees about professional growth and opportunities.​

    Dive Insight:

    As employers move to formalize pay bands for roles and skills to ward off discrimination claims, pay transparency has risen in popularity.

    According to experts, this can mean an employer encouraging workers to discuss pay information (which is permitted by the National Labor Relations Act anyway) or an employer making public its pay bands. 

    Some of this has been driven by outside sources. To take the guesswork out of the equation for job seekers, for example, job boards are increasingly rolling out tools like LinkedIn's Salary Insights, which appear on job listings with an estimate of what a position is likely to pay.

    But as Taylor noted, pay transparency also promises to ease some difficult discussions for managers around pay and promotion. A 2017 PayScale study revealed that employees' feelings about their organization's approach to pay fairness and transparency had a higher impact on job satisfaction than their actual pay. When managers are equipped with a deep understanding of how pay is set, they can communicate that to workers, boosting employee satisfaction and decreasing turnover.

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    Source: HR Dive

  • 12 Nov 2019 11:21 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    By Lisa Nagele-Piazza, J.D., SHRM-SCP

    November 12, 2019

    NEW ORLEANS—Deregulation has been a major priority for the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) during President Donald Trump's administration, and the federal government wants to make processes less burdensome for employers, according to DOL officials.

    Many DOL regulations have "literally not been updated since the 1950s or 1960s, and yet we all know that the workplace has changed dramatically," said Solicitor of Labor Kate O'Scannlain during a Nov. 8 session of the American Bar Association's 13th Annual Labor and Employment Law Conference.

    The DOL is looking for ways to lower compliance costs for employers, O'Scannlain said, but there are regulations that the department is not willing to change, such as safety standards.

    Cheryl Stanton, the DOL's Wage and Hour Division administrator, noted that the department is still focused on enforcement. "We have not changed our commitment to low-wage workers who are in vulnerable situations," she said. The division is also focused on community outreach, she said, to help employers comply with rules and regulations and to ensure that workers understand their rights.

    Here are some of the DOL's top priorities, according to O'Scannlain and Stanton.

    1. Defending the New Overtime Rule

    The DOL issued its highly anticipated federal overtime rule in September. Under the final rule, employees who make less than $35,568 must be paid overtime premiums starting Jan. 1, 2020. Among other changes to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act's (FLSA's) "white-collar" exemptions from overtime pay, the new rule also raised the salary cutoff for highly compensated employees.

    Worker advocates have argued that the threshold still isn't high enough. "I am happy that it went up, obviously," said Michele Fisher, an attorney with Nichols Kaster in Minneapolis. But the federal level is so low that many states are working to increase their minimum exempt salary even higher, she said. "What you are going to see from the plaintiffs' bar … is us bringing state actions."

    O'Scannlain said the department carefully crafted the regulations and is confident about the final rule. "We are ready to defend them," she said.

    2. Expanding Apprenticeship Programs

    In June, the DOL announced a proposed rule to expand apprenticeship programs and help close the skills gap, O'Scannlain noted. The rule would create a process to establish industry-recognized apprenticeship programs (IRAPs), which are customizable apprenticeship models that the DOL has called "major milestones in the continuing effort to expand apprenticeships in the United States."

    The proposed apprenticeship programs would be available to certified industry groups, schools, nonprofits and unions, and would be largely free from regulatory oversight, but would not change any requirements of the current DOL-regulated apprenticeship programs. 

    3. Updating Fluctuating Workweek Rules

    The DOL is also working on proposed updates to the fluctuating workweek method of calculating overtime. Employers can use the fluctuating workweek method under the FLSA to calculate overtime pay for salaried nonexempt employees who work hours that vary each week. The recently released proposal would cover more workers and provide employers with greater flexibility by letting them pay bonuses and other incentive-based compensation under this method. The public may submit comments on the proposal by Dec. 5.

    4. Changing Tip-Sharing Rules

    On Oct. 7, the DOL announced a proposed rule about tip sharing under the FLSA. The proposal would make it easier for employers to require "front-of-the-house" employees—such as servers and bartenders—who earn at least the minimum wage and customarily receive tips to share those gratuities with cooks, dishwashers and other "back-of-the-house" workers who aren't usually tipped. The proposed rule would prohibit employers from keeping employees' tips and is open for public comment until Dec. 9.

    5. Updating the 'Regular Rate' Calculation

    Another proposed FLSA update would change the definition of the "regular rate" of pay, which is used to calculate overtime premiums. The regular rate includes hourly wages and salaries for nonexempt workers, most bonuses, shift differentials, on-call pay, and commissions. However, it excludes health insurance, paid leave, holiday bonuses and other discretionary bonuses, and certain gifts. 

    Many employers aren't sure if certain perks must be included in the regular rate of pay. So instead of risking a lawsuit, some are choosing not to offer competitive benefits. Employers may feel more comfortable offering additional rewards if the proposed changes are finalized.

    6. Clarifying the Joint-Employer Rule

    The DOL also proposed a multifactor test to determine whether businesses are joint employers and share liability for FLSA wage and hour violations. The proposal aims to provide clarity for businesses, which likely won't be deemed joint employers if they stay out of the day-to-day employment decisions of their contractors and franchisees.

    7. Allowing Online Benefit Plan Disclosures

    An Employee Benefits Security Administration proposal would allow employers to provide benefit plan disclosures online rather than by mail. O'Scannlain said this change could result in a cost savings of about $2.5 million over 10 years. The rules would apply to plan disclosures required by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, and the DOL has posted a fact sheet on the proposed e-disclosure safe harbor. The comment period closes on Nov. 22.

    Stanton said the DOL wants to hear from employers and workers on these proposals because comments help the department shape regulations. 

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    Source: Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM

  • 08 Nov 2019 1:55 PM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    Image result for Chipotle adds mental health benefits

    By Cortney Moore | FOXBusiness | November 7, 2019

    Chipotle Mexican Grill announced it will provide both mental healthcare and financial wellness benefits to its employees to help them keep up with the fast food grind.

    In a press release that went out Tuesday, the chain said it will extend access to these benefits to more than 80,000 workers in 2020 through Employee Assistance Programs.

    "This is just the beginning of how we're strategically investing in the well-being of our employees and their families," Chipotle's Chief People Officer Marissa Andrada said in the release. "Our vision for people is to create a culture where employees can thrive and pursue their passion and by extending access to all levels and enriching our Employee Assistance Program, we are ensuring that our employees can build mental fitness and bring their best selves to work every day."

    An employee rings up a customer while others prepare orders at a Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurant in Hollywood, Calif., July 16, 2013. (Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images, File)

    Mental health and emotional support will be provided through in-person, phone or virtual visits with a licensed counselor. Streamlining accessibility to experts in the health industry is meant to aid Chipotle employees’ personal, professional, financial and legal concerns.

    Other benefits Chipotle is adopting for next year include a mobile-friendly digital portal, a financial wellness platform, and preferred provider organization healthcare plans for hourly employees as well as gym discounts.

    The benefits will also be available to the family members of Chipotle associates, according to the release.

    In its own words, the fast-food chain is taking this step to “minimize the effect of mental health in the workplace.”

    This news comes a month after Chipotle introduced a debt-free college tuition opportunities for select employees through the Chipotle Cultivate Education benefits program.

    Chipotle isn’t the only food chain that is trying to retain talent by treating its employees well.

    A view of the new Starbucks Reserve Roastery during a press conference in Shanghai, China, December 5, 2017. REUTERS/Aly Song - RC1CA10F0B00

    In early September,  coffee giant Starbucks announced employee benefits that target mental health, professional development and safe transportation via ride-share options.

    “Through strategic, long-term investments in labor hours, training, and streamlining tasks and processes critical to running a store, we will work to alleviate some of the pressure and stress that often limits our store managers to lead and grow,” Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson said in a letter to company employees at the time.

    Starbucks hasn’t forgotten its employees who are on the ground and providing versatile food services for customers. The chain is changing the layout to some of its stores to manage online and in-person orders.

    “It was very difficult for our baristas to just try to force 80 drinks within a 15-minute window on one small handoff point, so we have extended in 200 stores across the New York, Manhattan, Financial District areas, we’ve expanded physically in that area because we know the need for convenience is growing,” Starbucks Chief Operating Officer Roz Brewer told FOX Business.

    FILE - In this Thursday, April 25, 2013, file photo, a car stops at the drive-thru at a Burger King restaurant near downtown Los Angeles. Restaurant Brands International, the parent company of Burger King and Tim Hortons, reports financial results Mo

    Burger King was embroiled in criticism earlier this year when it partnered with Mental Health America for an advertising campaign that encouraged customers to “#FeelYourWay” during Mental Health Awareness Month in May.

    The campaign involved Burger King branded Real Meal menu item that took a direct shot at McDonald’s Happy Meal with moody declarations printed on each box. The chain also put out a corresponding video that showed difficult circumstances that can try a person’s mental health while also promoting the edgy meal kit.

    Despite the creative move, the campaign received backlash from social media users and former employees who accused the burger chain of capitalizing on depression and not taking mental health seriously.

    One viral tweet from a previous assistant manager cited her experience at Burger King as a challenging ordeal.

    “This tweet has me feeling a type of way because when was an assistant manager at BK I was so overworked and stressed that I cried in the walk in multiple times,” Twitter user Clari shared. “Bring this energy to your regional managers, smaller franchise owners and your employees.”

    Burger King@BurgerKing

    not sure who needed to hear this today, but it’s ok not to be happy all the time. all that matters is that you #FeelYourWay. 

    View image on Twitter


    5:02 AM - May 1, 2019

    Twitter Ads info and privacy

    3,181 people are talking about this

    In following tweets, Clari said Burger King managers can work anywhere between 60 and 100 hours per week depending on how big of an operation it is. She added that this is a common issue with the fast food industry as a whole rather than it being exclusive to Burger King.

    Burger King did not immediately respond to FOX Business’ request for comment on employee benefits and whether it will follow suit with initiatives targeting mental health.

    In a separate FOX Business report, the U.S. unemployment rate hit record lows – reaching 3.5 percent in September. With so many Americans working, fast food chains may very well feel it is necessary to extend health-conscious benefits or initiatives to remain competitive.

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    Source: Fox Business

  • 06 Nov 2019 2:54 PM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    new year 2020 street sign

    Ashlea Ebeling | Forbes Staff | Nov 6, 2019, 10:28am

    How much can you save for retirement in 2020? The Treasury Department has announced inflation-adjusted figures for retirement account savings for 2020: 401(k) contribution limits are up; traditional IRA contribution limits stay the same; almost all the other numbers are up.

    The amount you can contribute to your 401(k) or similar workplace retirement plan goes up from $19,000 in 2019 to $19,500 in 2020. The 401(k) catch-up contribution limit—if you’re 50 or older in 2020—will be $6,500 for workplace plans, up from $6,000. But the amount you can contribute to an Individual Retirement Account stays the same for 2020: $6,000, with a $1,000 catch-up limit if you’re 50 or older.

    So super-savers age 50-plus can sock away $33,000 in these tax-advantaged accounts for 2020. If your employer allows aftertax contributions or you’re self-employed, you can save even more. The overall defined contribution plan limit moves up to $57,000, from $56,000.

    Sounds unreachable? During 2018, 13% of employees with retirement plans at work saved the then maximum of $18,500/$24,500, according to Vanguard’s How America Saves. In plans offering catch-up contributions, 15% of those age 50 or older took advantage of the extra savings opportunity. High earners are really saving: 6 out of 10 folks earning $150,000+ contributed the maximum allowed, including catch-ups.

    Want to join in? We outline the numbers below; see IRS Notice 2019-59 for technical guidance. For more on 2020 tax numbers: Forbes contributor Kelly Phillips Erb has all the details on 2020 tax brackets, standard deduction amounts and more. We have all the details on the new higher 2020 retirement account limits too.

    401(k)s. The annual contribution limit for employees who participate in 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan is $19,500 for 2020—a $500 boost over 2019. Note, you can make changes to your 401(k) election at any time during the year, not just during open enrollment season when most employers send you a reminder to update your elections for the next plan year.

    The 401(k) Catch-Up. The catch-up contribution limit for employees age 50 or older in these plans is $6,500 for 2020. That’s the first increase since 2015 when the limit rose to $6,000. Even if you don’t turn 50 until December 31, 2020, you can make the additional $6,500 catch-up contribution for the year.

    SEP IRAs and Solo 401(k)s. For the self-employed and small business owners, the amount they can save in a SEP IRA or a solo 401(k) goes up from $56,000 in 2019 to $57,000 in 2020. That’s based on the amount they can contribute as an employer, as a percentage of their salary; the compensation limit used in the savings calculation also goes up from $280,000 in 2019 to $285,000 in 2020.

    Aftertax 401(k) contributions. If your employer allows aftertax contributions to your 401(k), you also get the advantage of the $57,000 limit for 2020. It’s an overall cap, including your $19,500 (pretax or Roth in any combination) salary deferrals plus any employer contributions (but not catch-up contributions).

    The SIMPLE. The limit on SIMPLE retirement accounts goes up from $13,000 in 2019 to $13,500 in 2020. The SIMPLE catch-up limit is still $3,000.

    Defined Benefit Plans. The limitation on the annual benefit of a defined benefit plan goes up from $225,000 in 2019 to $230,000 in 2020. These are powerful pension plans (an individual version of the kind that used to be more common in the corporate world before 401(k)s took over) for high-earning self-employed folks.

    Individual Retirement Accounts. The limit on annual contributions to an Individual Retirement Account (pretax or Roth or a combination) remains at $6,000 for 2020, the same as in 2019. The catch-up contribution limit, which is not subject to inflation adjustments, remains at $1,000. (Remember that 2020 IRA contributions can be made until April 15, 2021.)

    Deductible IRA Phase-Outs. You can earn a little more in 2020 and get to deduct your contributions to a traditional pretax IRA. Note: Even if you earn too much to get a deduction for contributing to an IRA, you can still contribute—it’s just nondeductible.

    In 2020, the deduction for taxpayers making contributions to a traditional IRA is phased out for singles and heads of household who are covered by a workplace retirement plan and have modified adjusted gross incomes (AGI) between $65,000 and $75,000, up from $64,000 and $74,000 in 2019. For married couples filing jointly, in which the spouse who makes the IRA contribution is covered by a workplace retirement plan, the income phase-out range is $104,000 to $124,000 for 2020, up from $103,000 to $123,000.

    For an IRA contributor who is not covered by a workplace retirement plan and is married to someone who is covered, the deduction is phased out if the couple’s income is between $196,000 and $206,000 in 2020, up from $193,000 and $203,000 in 2019.

    Roth IRA Phase-Outs. The inflation adjustment helps Roth IRA savers too. In 2020, the AGI phase-out range for taxpayers making contributions to a Roth IRA is $196,000 to $206,000 for married couples filing jointly, up from $193,000 to $203,000 in 2019. For singles and heads of household, the income phase-out range is $124,000 to $139,000, up from $122,000 to $137,000 in 2019.

    If you earn too much to open a Roth IRA, you can open a nondeductible IRA and convert it to a Roth IRA as Congress lifted any income restrictions for Roth IRA conversions. To learn more about the backdoor Roth, see Congress Blesses Roth IRAs For Everyone, Even The Well-Paid.

    Saver’s Credit. The income limit for the saver’s credit for low- and moderate-income workers is $65,000 for married couples filing jointly for 2020, up from $64,000; $48,750 for heads of household, up from $48,000; and $32,500 for singles and married filing separately, up from $32,000. See Grab The Saver’s Credit for details on how it can pay off.

    QLACs. The dollar limit on the amount of your IRA or 401(k) you can invest in a qualified longevity annuity contract is increased to $135,000 from $130,000. See Make Your Retirement Money Last For Life for how QLACs work.

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    Source: Forbes

  • 31 Oct 2019 9:34 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    Jennifer Liu - October 31, 2019

    There are plenty of draws to having a job that allows you to work from home — nixing a daily commute being just one of them. And according to one new analysis, that daily convenience, along with boosted productivity by avoiding the distractions of office life, could add up to an extra 105 hours of free time per year per remote worker.

    new report from the Centre for Economics and Business Research, on behalf of digital workplace platform Citrix, measures the economic impact of adopting widespread work-from-anywhere policies across the U.S. The survey suggests that remote work arrangements aren’t just beneficial to workers, but they could also be good for business in more ways than one.

    Time-efficiency is a huge factor, Tim Minahan, executive vice president of business strategy at Citrix, tells CNBC Make It.

    “On any given day, the average employee spends nearly 65% of their time on busy work and in meetings, 20% searching for information and just 15% — or 1.2 hours a day — on the meaningful and rewarding work they were hired to do,” he says.

    The ability to work from home, then, could help workers be more focused and boost productivity, essentially doing the same amount (or more) work in less time.

    “We’ve essentially taken our highly-trained knowledge workers and turned them into task rabbits, who, when grappling with long commutes and distractions that come with working in an office environment, find themselves rushing, stressed out and less productive,” Minahan adds.



    In turn, a remote work arrangement could afford employees more time to attend to personal matters like grocery shopping, paying bills, doing housework and spending time with family, Minahan suggests. An increase in this leisure time has the double benefit of easing stress — a 2014 PGi survey finds 82% of workers are less stressed when they work from home — while increasing worker happiness.

    To be sure, Citrix, which sells technology that makes remote work easier, could benefit if more employees had flexible work arrangements. But additional research has made many of the same points.

    Flexible work arrangements are linked to higher levels of employee happiness when such policies allow workers to better manage their time. Achieving better work-life balance, after all, is the main reason why people said they switched to a remote-work arrangement in the first place, according to one Owl Labs survey. Remote workers also count increased productivity, avoiding commuting and less stress as the top benefits to their flexible arrangement.

    While the average American worker spends just over 26 minutes commuting to work each way, those averages go much higher for some of the most populated areas of the country. New Yorkers have it worst with an average one-way commute time of 36 minutes, and all of the top-10 longest commutes clock in over half an hour each way.

    More remote-work arrangements could eliminated dead time stuck in traffic, and not to mention, ease congestion and slow fuel waste.

    As for putting more time back in the hands of workers, put another way, the 105-hour average comes out to over 13 work days that could be freed up for leisure time. That could be good for the economy as a whole, Minahan suggests.

    “From an economic perspective, additional leisure hours means more time spent consuming goods and services: going to the gym, taking in a movie, playing a round of golf,” he says.

    This isn’t to say office environments don’t serve a purpose. Some so-called office distractions can be beneficial to work: coworker interaction can improve teamwork, meetings can inspire ideas, and walking around provides not only physical activity but also creative boosts. In-person office culture also provides a crucial social network: 10% of Americans meet their spouse at work or through colleagues, while one-third have met at least one close friend through work.

    Overall, the Cebr and Citrix report indicates widespread adoption of work-from-anywhere arrangements could add $2.6 trillion to the U.S. economy. The biggest benefit comes from employing untapped talent who would have better access to the workforce through remote options. Bringing in the unemployed and economically inactive could equate to $2.08 trillion in added value per year, or a 10.2% boost to U.S. gross domestic product.

    This group alone — which includes retirees, full-time homemakers or caretakers, people who are disabled and cannot leave the house to work, and more — would be responsible for 88% of the total potential boost to productivity if they were motivated to enter the workforce through a remote arrangement (something 69% of people not currently working said they’d be open to).

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    Source: CNBC

  • 24 Oct 2019 3:17 PM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    By  Myrna Hellerman  - October 16, 2019

    There is no right or wrong answer inherent in compensation survey data. The key is to use the information strategically. Here's how.

    The compensation survey is the Oracle of Delphi of the compensation world. Compensation wisdom seekers look at all of the reported data when trying to find a definitive answer to the perennial question: “What’s the right mix of pay?” 

    Unfortunately, survey results do not provide categorical insights into the intricacies of executive compensation. Moreover, the amount of information may be overwhelming, especially if all of it isn’t applicable to all organizations. 

    Survey users, particularly those who seek insights into private company pay, need to rely on both the “science” and the “art” of data analytics. 

    The results of compensation surveys provide the numerical foundation — the science — behind pay determination. The art is the thoughtful interpretation of the data within the context of your organization, its values and its pay philosophy. Together, balancing science and art lead to the identification of the right amount to be paid through the right vehicles for your executive in a given role as performed within the realities of your organization. 

    Compensation Surveys Are More Valuable to Private Companies

    In recent years, publicly traded companies have become less dependent upon compensation surveys. That’s because proxies and other SEC filings provide increasingly robust insights into the executive pay philosophy, pay levels, pay mix, pay delivery vehicles and other pay practices of the specific publicly traded companies that are the competition for executive talent. 

    Private companies, on the other hand, don’t have access to such competitor-specific pay data. As a result, they’re highly dependent on published survey data as a starting point for compensation decision-making.  

    Private companies should proceed cautiously to understand and interpret the applicability of published survey data to the pay for their own executives. As a first step, keep in mind the basic reporting process underlying a compensation survey: all the reported individual data points for a particular pay component of a given role are lined up from lowest paid to highest paid. The bottom quartile (25th percentile), median (50th percentile) and top quartile (75th percentile) data points are reported as survey benchmark levels for each pay component. However, it may be difficult to see how the components of pay are related across these measures. 

    For example, the executive who receives the reported median base salary amount is most likely a different executive from the one who receives the reported median total cash. It is difficult to determine from the survey data results how those pay levels were derived let alone the applicability of the survey benchmark level within an individual company’s pay structure. 

    Questions to consider include: 

    • Does the median base salary belong to someone who has no variable pay opportunities? 
    • Does the median total cash belong to someone with bottom quartile pay and extraordinary variable pay opportunities? 

    At private companies, there is a high level of individuality and creativity in pay practices that a survey’s discrete data points do not capture. This, in fact, can be an advantage for private companies in recruiting and retaining executive talent. As I often tell my clients, there is no right or wrong answer inherent in survey data, but it does provide a very useful guide. However, the right answer is the one that makes sense within the context of your pay philosophy, culture and budgetary constraints. 

    Considerations for Using Survey Data to Set Pay 

    As you begin a pay decision-making process influenced by salary survey data, consider the following cautionary notes as well as suggestions in italics for how to address them: 

    Compensation surveys represent the market value of the role, not the value of the person in your company fulfilling that role as defined by your company. For instance, your company’s president may have significant marketing responsibilities in addition to traditional presidential duties. Furthermore, in addition to differences in job content, the president’s role at your company might be filled by a high performer whose retention is critical to the success of the enterprise.

    In such instances, compensation above the survey benchmark level may be warranted.

    Compensation surveys represent how roles are valued at other companies, not at your company. Each company places higher or lower emphasis than the general market on its executive roles, based on its unique strategy and culture. For example, your COO may be the second most highly valued and paid role. At another similarly situated company, the CFO may occupy the second most highly valued and paid role. At a third surveyed company there may be little differentiation of pay among the key executives reporting to the CEO.

    Individual executive pay determination should consider your company’s role value hierarchy. 

    Compensation surveys don’t take into account the level of an individual’s experience in the role. The CSO at your company may be new to the role whereas the CSO at other similarly situated surveyed companies may be more seasoned.  

    Generally accepted practice is to consider +/- 15% of the survey benchmark value (e.g., median, top quartile) as a competitive range and then to place the executive’s pay within that range as illustrated below:

    Sibson Consulting Comp SurveyCredit: Sibson Consulting


    Compensation surveys don’t reflect the surveyed companies’ pay positioning and pay-mix philosophies. The pay positioning philosophy at your company might be to deliver total cash at the market median. To accomplish this, your company targets base salary and cash incentives at the market median. Another similarly situated company has a high-risk/high-reward philosophy, and it arrives at an overall median total-cash pay positioning with a pay mix that includes bottom quartile base salary and top quartile cash incentive opportunities.

    Start with the total cash compensation survey benchmark level and then build the package consistent with your pay philosophy about how much risk to build into the package. (Note that it is common for private companies to have a different pay risk profile for each individual on the executive team.)

    Many compensation surveys don’t capture the unique interplay between the current cash and long-term deferred cash/phantom ownership opportunities that commonly exist in privately held companies. For example, your company’s CFO may be a trusted advisor who has been with the company for many years, and his or her continued tenure is valued. You pay the CFO a base salary and annual incentive (bonus) on what might be considered the low side of fair. However, the CFO also has a long-term economic interest in the company that will pay out when he or she retires. In contrast, you compensate your high-performing but much shorter-tenured CTO in the top quartile for total cash but provide no long-term economic interest in the company. 

    Consider creating an inventory of the value of your long-term wealth accumulation opportunities by executive. Next, determine the total cash package (as described above). Then build into this total cash compensation package the long-term wealth accumulation opportunity that makes sense for your company. The long-term wealth accumulation opportunity should be consistent with the company’s pay philosophy, risk profile, how the role is valued and the expected long-term contribution expected from the person in the role.

    In your executive pay decision-making process, it is important to identify the appropriate balance between the external survey values and the internal value of the role. The framework below illustrates how external and internal values interplay in pay decision-making.

    sibson using comp surveysCredit: Sibson Consulting

    Putting It All Together

    For private companies that are considering an update to their compensation practices, compensation surveys are a valuable starting point. First, understand and interpret their applicability to the pay for your executives. Then, broaden your approach. Many factors can or perhaps should be considered, such as organization pay and retention history, future direction and strategic plans, and marketplace competition. 

    To use a baseball analogy, the compensation survey data will get you to the right playing field and likely to the right section of the stands. Frequently, it may even help you find the right row. Rarely, however, will it guide you to a specific seat for a given executive. That seat needs to be the one with the best view of the game from the perspective of both the company and the executive.  

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    Source: Chief Executive Group, LLC

  • 24 Oct 2019 3:12 PM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)


    Jennifer Carsen


    Oct. 22, 2019

    The NCAA has March Madness, and HR has its own brand of Fall Madness: open enrollment. It's a busy and stressful time for practitioners, but a good benefits broker or consultant can mean the difference between a successful, smoothly executed process and months of frantic nail biting, confusion and muddled deadlines. 

    What's the best way to find the right benefits partner? And how does HR best leverage and maximize that business relationship?

    Businesses first must clarify their own needs and priorities, according to Donna Miracle, executive human resources consultant at HR Strategy Group.

    "[A]re you a startup that will be growing rapidly? Are you an organization with a workforce that is virtual and spread across the country?" she said to HR Dive in an email. "In the marketplace today, brokers are looking for ways to differentiate themselves. Some are focusing on technology, others wellness, others employee engagement, etc. What is most important to your organization? What value added service will be the most beneficial to your employees?"

    8 interview questions

    Once an employer is clear on the top priorities, research is crucial. Shelley McLean, principal at OneDigital Health and Benefits, said it's important for employers to interview multiple firms and ask a lot of questions.

    Miracle suggested employers seek out a broker that specializes in employee benefits — you don't want it to be their "other thing," she noted via email. "Just as you would want a professional accountant, you want a professional broker."

    She advised handling the broker selection process like an employee interview, with prepared questions such as the following:

    • Describe for me the renewal process with your firm. When should I expect to begin the process? What information will you need from me and when? How do you approach the marketplace? What tools do you have in place to help us make a decision?
    • How does your firm handle problems? Is there a team assigned to our company? Can employees contact your firm directly? 
    • How often should I expect to hear from your firm before and during the renewal period? 
    • What resources do you offer to help us stay informed about changes and reporting requirements?
    • How often should we expect your firm to be in touch with us when we are not in the renewal season?

    McLean offered these questions to ask:

    • Do you provide the backbone to look at a benefits package with a holistic approach? How will you bring that to my employees?
    • What resources do you provide outside of benefits? Is there an expanded footprint?
    • How are you, consultant, going to help us build a strategy?

    Both McLean and Misty Guinn, director of benefits & wellness at Benefitfocus, mentioned the importance of long-range, multi-year strategic plans.

    "When creating 1- 3- or 5-year strategic plans, can the broker help map out the strategy? Can they help model different plans with a variety of voluntary solutions to meet the overall budget number from the CFO? These tools and modeling capabilities should be a deciding factor and can be a great asset when presenting your benefit plan designs to your executive team," said Guinn via email.

    McLean noted that a data-driven strategy is a key differentiator: "Everyone can say they have data, but do they have data that can provide an actionable plan, and understand what the data means?"

    It's also important to find a broker that knows the days of cookie-cutter benefits are over. "Employers should find a broker partner that offers creative solutions to make sure the company is maximizing their current offerings through plan designs and carrier programs and offer new solutions as part of the overall benefits strategy, rather than just another shiny toy to add on top of the benefits package," said Guinn.

    The world of employee benefits is ever-changing, and it is fast, McLean said. "It's not the HR team's job to stay in front of that — it's our job. [We] need to know all the strategies out there and sort them" into what is most and least likely to work for the client, she said. She advised finding a consultant who is a "student of the industry" so that employers hear important news from their benefits partner before they hear it from anyone else. 

    A true partnership

    The experts all espoused the need for a real partnership between employer and benefits broker.

    "Treat them the same as a valued member of your team," said Miracle via email. You want someone, said McLean, who will challenge you and help you to be "best in class as an HR department." Your broker is a partner, an extension of your team who will make you better, she said. 

    Brokers "must become strategic partners; someone who acts as a true extension of a company's internal HR and benefits team while using their expertise to strengthen the company's objectives and key results," said Guinn. "Brokers must strive to closely align and enhance their collaborations with a company's benefit technology provider, carriers, vendors and other key players in the benefits industry."

    Among other things, communication will be key, the experts said. "Your broker is one of your best resources for information and assistance," said Miracle, so "don't just talk to them two months before it's time for a new plan." Ongoing communication is particularly important for small HR departments that don't have a lot of other resources to turn to, she said. "That broker is there to help you."

    "Frequent and ongoing communication is key to success," said McLean. The "one ask" OneDigital has of its clients, she said, is to outline expectations — the goals and objectives of the company — and how frequently OneDigital and the client will communicate.

    Guinn advised that HR pros set up regular meetings throughout the entire year with the broker partner to discuss strategy — not just in the time period leading up to traditional open enrollment. She encouraged strategic sessions at least once a quarter along with shorter tactical biweekly discussions leading up to open enrollment events.

    Common pain points

    To steer clear of any pitfalls, Miracle said, employers should first gather the census information requested by their broker in a complete and timely manner. "For many small and mid-size businesses, getting renewal information is a pain point. There is sometimes not as much time as we would like between when we receive our renewal information and when we need to have employees enrolled. It is important to have a plan in place to evaluate the renewal data, gather the decision makers and make a decision as efficiently as possible. This will allow the time employees need to evaluate the plan offerings and enroll without getting too close to the deadline."

    Guinn echoed the importance of early planning: "While open enrollment traditionally takes place in the fall, the information and data gathering process should begin early in Q1," she said. "One thing I've done with my broker partners is to arrange for a carrier summit early in the year, where vendors and carriers for all of our benefits, including medical, dental, and voluntary benefit providers come and meet with my team."

    Another potential pitfall can occur when a broker develops a relationship directly with a company's CFO, resulting in the benefits director being left out of decisions or discussions, said Guinn. She recommended that benefits directors establish themselves early on as the main contact for all communication and reporting, to avoid this problem and prevent confusion about objectives and results.

    The big picture

    Open enrollment is certainly about benefits and the benefit cost, said McLean, but it's also about the employee experience.

    Employers should strive to find a firm that will fit the mission and vision of an employer's desired employee benefits experience and one that truly understands the convergence of HR, technology and the various requirements that come into play, she said. "When the entire benefits ecosystem comes together — the employer, broker, carrier, employees — everyone is a winner."

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    Source: HR Dive

  • 08 Oct 2019 11:26 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    Image result for Are Americans Satisfied With

    Oct 7, 2019, 07:08am

    Niall McCarthy | Contributor 


    Data journalist covering technological, societal and media topics

    Employers added 136,000 jobs to the U.S. economy in September, resulting in the unemployment rate falling to 3.5%, its lowest level since 1969. While most Americans are no doubt satisfied with the state of the economy, how do they feel about their working conditions? Gallup has been measuring U.S. worker satisfaction across a range of different characteristics for the past two decades. According to its 2019 edition of the research, American workers are generally satisfied with most aspects of their jobs, though there are some areas where improvements could be made.

    Satisfaction was highest with the physical safety conditions of the workplace with 74% of those polled saying they were completely satisfied, along with 20% who felt somewhat satisfied. The fractious political landscape doesn't seem to be having an impact on friendships at work and 92% of Americans were positive about relations with their co-workers. Despite warnings of a recession lying just around the corner, most people were also upbeat about their job security with 90% saying they were completely or somewhat satisfied.

    When it comes to the areas that need improvement, health insurance benefits offered by employers was cited as the area with the least satisfaction with 64% of Americans content. Likewise, 36% of those polled said they were completely satisfied with the retirement plan offered by their employer with 30% stating they were somewhat satisfied. There is also a sense of frustration in some quarters when it comes to moving up the ladder. 44% felt completely satisfied with their chances for promotion while 29% were somewhat satisfied.

    *Click below to enlarge (charted by Statista)

    Are Americans Satisfied With Their Working Conditions?

    Share of U.S. workers satisfied with the following in August 2019 (in percent). 

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    Source: Forbes

  • 01 Oct 2019 10:30 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)
    Image result for Fast and Easy G&A Cuts Won’t Cut It in the Next Downturn

    September 30, 2019

    Michael Heric and Pamela Yee, Bain & Company

    More than half of executives who lead general and administrative (G&A) functions, including finance, expect a downturn this year or next, a new Bain & Company survey shows.

    The good news is that most believe the next downturn will be shallower and shorter than the last one, and will require a lower level of savings — about half that of 2008. The bad news is that two-thirds said it will be as hard or harder to find these more modest savings than the last time around.

    To understand the challenge companies may face, Bain surveyed 650 executives and professionals across finance and other G&A departments, and analyzed the G&A spending patterns of more than 450 U.S.-based companies with more than $100 million in annual revenue from 2003 to 2017.

    In past recessions, many companies turned to G&A for fast, easy cuts. However, our analysis found that the track record of most companies in managing G&A spending over the entire economic cycle has been mediocre at best.

    While half of companies in a given year improved their G&A efficiency (G&A as a percentage of revenue) from the prior year, the gains were transitory: Only 6% of companies achieved efficiency gains for four straight years during the period. On average, G&A efficiency deteriorated by 20 basis points, from 6.9% in 2003 to 7.1% in 2017.

    Support-function leaders relied on labor cuts, without changing the underlying work, to find fully half of the savings made in 2008 and 2009. They learned the hard way that overly deep cuts take years to recover from, because of reduced service levels and lost institutional knowledge.

    The stakes are high, as successful support functions help create a competitive advantage. For the average public company among the world’s 1,000 largest, we estimate that every 1% reduction in G&A spending translates to a 10% improvement in operating margin. The most efficient quartile of performers in our analysis increased EBIT 1.5 times more than bottom-quartile performers through the cycle.

    To achieve greater efficiency, support-function leaders will need to step up their game on four fronts.

    1. Understand your costs in detail, including their causes.

    Many support functions don’t manage costs with the same rigor with which sales, manufacturing, and operations costs are managed. For example, only 54% of survey respondents tracked functional headcount in detail, and only 47% had management dashboards to measure and track efficiency and effectiveness.

    Worse, many companies don’t have a complete view of support-function costs. Only 18% of survey respondents said their companies track “shadow costs” — namely, people in distributed business units performing activities that duplicate those performed by the support functions.

    Full visibility requires identifying costs at every level inside and outside corporate headquarters. When managers know and measure all the costs for each process, they can target cost reductions surgically rather than spread cuts evenly.

    2. Look for alternative ways of working.

    To move beyond incremental improvements, companies benefit from taking a clean-sheet approach to redesigning how work gets done. This method sets aggressive cost targets, defines what the future should look like, and then works backward on how to achieve it, reinventing from the ground up rather than optimizing current ways of working.

    Defining the future state involves four dimensions:

    • Clear roles aligned with customers’ priorities
    • A service portfolio and service levels that make the appropriate trade-offs between which activities should be best-in-class and which should be best-in-cost
    • A service-delivery model that balances efficiency with value added to the business
    • The right talent, processes and systems

    3. Get full value from existing digital technologies.

    Reinventing how work is done inevitably requires smart investments in digital technologies. Digital yields benefits beyond cost savings, including faster decision making and improved service, business insights, and financial controls.

    But while almost 90% of survey respondents are investing in digital today, more than half said they aren’t getting the benefits they’d expected.

    Top-performing support functions, by contrast, have learned how to get tangible business benefits from their digital investments.

    A good example is Microsoft’s finance function. In the early 2000s, Microsoft faced a proliferation of internal data, inflexible technology systems with static reporting, overly manual processes, and increased regulations. Through a decade-long effort, the company’s finance group patiently invested in a digital transformation through the recession and a change in corporate leadership.

    Digital enhanced virtually every corner of finance, from global business reviews on a KPI data lake to machine learning in accounts receivables, allowing finance professionals to spend more time on higher-value activities. In parallel, relative costs fell: From 2009 to 2018, Microsoft’s finance headcount grew by 14% while revenue grew by 89%.

    4. Expect the best, plan for the worst.

    Reducing costs by 5% to 10% might be challenging, but what if the situation calls for 30% or more in savings? Rather than wait and possibly get backed into a corner during crisis or disruption, it pays to plan early for restructuring functions to take out massive costs, whether through eliminated work, redesigned processes, shared services, or digital tools.

    Caterpillar, which provides heavy equipment and related services, put contingency planning to good use. As part of its 2005 strategic plan, every business unit developed a detailed plan that could be initiated quickly during an economic downturn. Once the recession started, prior planning allowed the company to take rapid, bold steps to immediately align the G&A structure with lower volumes and revenue.

    When revenue declined by 37% in 2009, Caterpillar had already started to execute contingency plans the year earlier, reducing selling, general, and administrative costs by 17%.

    Come the next downturn, leaders that make the hard investments early — eliminating low-value work, reinventing processes, and making the most of digital technology — will fare better than others. They’ll provide fuel for reinvestment to go on offense and emerge from the recession in a winning position.

    Michael Heric and Pamela Yee are partners with Bain & Company.

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  • 30 Sep 2019 12:10 PM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    Related image

    September 03, 2019

    CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (Sept. 3, 2019) — Employee benefits provider Unum (NYSE: UNM) finds that 38% of U.S. adults rate their ability to manage finances as average, poor, or very poor. An additional 40% of respondents say they don’t have or don’t know if they have a life insurance policy to financially protect their loved ones. These findings and more are part of an online poll of 1,000 U.S. adults conducted by Unum in August. These consumer insights coincide with Life Insurance Awareness Month, promoted annually by the nonprofit organization, Life Happens.

    The same study highlighted additional financial exposure and anxiety, including:

    • 35% say thinking about what would happen to their family should they die unexpectedly was a top cause of anxiety; only going to the dentist (40%) rated higher.
    • If the family’s primary wage-earner were to die unexpectedly, 32% of those in their prime working years (25-64) would feel the financial impact within a month.
    • 34% think they need just one or two times their annual salary in life insurance to financially protect their family.

    According to life insurance industry group, LIMRA, nearly half of U.S. households are underinsured, with an average coverage gap of $200,000. Additionally, the group recommends an individual have seven to 10 times their salary in life insurance1.

    “While it’s not surprising that so many adults aren’t confident in their financial planning abilities, it’s concerning that such a large percentage are leaving their families financially unprotected,” said personal finance expert, Laura Adams. “For most people, their ability to earn an income throughout their life is the biggest asset they have, and term life insurance is a relatively inexpensive way to protect that asset until they retire, or their family financial obligations decrease.”

    Of survey respondents working full-time, 46% purchase life insurance through their employer, most often during an open enrollment period in the fall. However, according to a separate survey by Unum of 1,512 working adults also conducted in August, 50% spend 30 minutes or less reviewing all their benefit options prior to enrolling.

    The most important reason for having a life insurance policy is to financially protect loved ones. If they count on the primary wage-earner’s income or other financial resources, life insurance helps assure they’re covered if that individual passes away. It can also cover funeral expenses, pay off debt, pay estate taxes and for things like a child’s education, student loans, or a home mortgage.

    In 2018, Unum’s group life insurance plans paid $1.1 billion in claims to more than 24,000 families. Visit Unum’s life insurance page for more information.

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    Source: Unum Group

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