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WORKSPAN
FEATURE |

The Importance of Your Organization's Pay Brand

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It’s shaping up to be another significant year for compensation, with everything from CEO pay ratios to gender equity issues grabbing headlines. All this attention could be alarming to some – is the profession under attack? With the spotlight shining, we think the time is ripe for compensation leaders to take center stage and demonstrate the true value of their work.

Today, the gap between you and the competition is defined less by what you do and more by who you are.

Long-term success relies upon your organization’s mission, vision, values, beliefs, how and who you hire, and the way you recruit, enable and inspire top talent. Leading organizations have realized they need to increase their investment and focus on people and culture in order to succeed.

And when it comes to people, comp is culture.

Compensation plays a massive role in the shared narrative employees and leadership create about your company; it’s the part of the story where we tell our employees how we perceive their value. None of the stories you create about what you value as an organization are as important as this. You can get everything else about culture right, but if you get compensation wrong, nothing else will matter.

Your pay brand is the way your existing and future employees feel about compensation at your organization. It’s shaped not only by the way you pay — including how much and why — but also by how you talk about pay throughout your organization. And, it’s incumbent upon the compensation profession to be the ambassadors of their brand and communicate it accordingly.

In fact, the communication piece may matter even more than the pay itself. According to PayScale’s research[2], 82 percent of employees were satisfied with their pay even if it was low, if their employer was honest and transparent about the reasons why.

If you acknowledge the value employees bring to your organization — by compensating them appropriately and clearly communicating your pay practices — they’re likely to be satisfied with their salary, engaged in their work, happy, and productive. But if you don’t talk about your pay practices and leave your employees in the dark, they’re likely to believe that you don’t pay well, or don’t pay fairly. This is true even for employees being paid appropriately for the market; Two-thirds of people[3]being paid at the market rate believe they’re actually underpaid.

And if your employees don’t believe you pay fairly, they’re already on their way out the door.

Conversely, creating a strong, well-communicated pay brand can have tremendous benefits.

1. INCREASES THE QUALITY OF YOUR CANDIDATE POOL
When job-seekers believe that your organization values people and pays them well, you’ll attract more qualified applicants. In fact, data show that a strong employer brand leads to 50 percent more qualified applicants[4]. Additionally, a strong pay brand will make existing employees feel more comfortable encouraging contacts within their network to apply for open positions at your organization. And with more qualified applications, recruiting teams can spend less money and time filling roles.

2. IMPROVES RETENTION
Your pay brand also impacts retention: If employees feel like they’re being paid fairly, they are far less likely to leave.

3. CREATES ALIGNMENT WITHIN ALL LEVELS OF YOUR ORGANIZATION
To define your pay brand, you’ll need to get all of your executives and managers on the same page regarding your compensation philosophy and strategy. This is a great opportunity to determine what you want to reward, ensuring you’re maximizing your compensation dollars to achieve your business objectives.

4. UNITES EMPLOYEE AND EMPLOYER INTEREST
When employees know what their organization chooses to reward and how they can advance their career, they become significantly more motivated to perform. And when managers are empowered to reward or incentivize certain behaviors, it’s much easier to motivate their teams

5. IMPROVES REPUTATION
Having a strong pay brand can also help you attract new prospects and customers. A well-crafted pay brand leads to a positive reputation among the wider business community. In general, organizations want to do business with organizations that value their employees. Case in point: Whole Foods is still riding a wave of good publicity created by their 1986 decision to make every employee’s salary available to anyone within the company!A strong pay brand is the keystone to a strong organizational culture, and a strong culture can make or break your organization’s overall performance. Organizations that understand the link between pay and culture and invest in the teams and tools to foster it, will build a long term competitive advantage in tight talent markets.

To learn more about creating a strong pay brand visit payscale.com

Sean Leslie is the Sr. Content Strategist at PayScale.com, and he's passionate about helping employees and employers develop fair and mutually-beneficial relationships. 

About PayScale
Founded in 2002, PayScale pioneered the use of big data and unique matching algorithms to power the world’s most advanced compensation decision platform. PayScale’s platform gives employers a single point of access to diverse datasets and real-time analytics for immediate visibility into the right pay for any position. Key capabilities include: creating structures, market pricing, survey management, employee communication, and trend reporting. Our cloud compensation software is used by more than 6,500 customers to make salary decisions for more than 17 million employees. For more information, please visit: www.payscale.com or follow PayScale on Twitter: https://twitter.com/payscale.