2020 is, mercifully, on its way out. In the year’s last edition of Workspan, we examine how some of the tough lessons learned in the midst of COVID-19 will shape how companies approach total rewards in the years to come.
The November/December issue tackles this subject in our cover story, “The Right Stuff: Exploring Total Rewards in 2021 and Beyond,” and takes on a host of other total rewards-related topics in features such as:
An Unconventional Climb: Talent Mobility When There Is No Ladder, by Anita Bowness
Career progression is no longer strictly linear. Traditional career paths and ladders are now far less common than they were even a decade ago.
Employees feel valued and want to stay at organizations that help them grow professionally, but some organizations are slow to promote or have infrequent opportunities for development and lateral movement. And even for organizations that historically did have defined career paths with frequent advancement opportunities, challenging economic circumstances brought on by COVID-19 have brought promotions and compensation increases to a halt for many, at least for the time being.
So, without a traditional career ladder, how can human resources and talent leaders effectively grow, develop and retain top talent?
Employers are usually eager to learn early on if company and job candidate are far apart on compensation. Historically, a lot of hiring managers and interviewers would find this out by simply asking a candidate direct questions about his or her prior pay, and make an offer based on the applicant’s salary history.
But that approach is fraught with risk, and some say asking such questions unfairly locks applicants into a given pay range, and helps perpetuate the existing wage gap.
For that matter, asking salary history questions is flat-out illegal in some places. For example, 19 states have statewide legislation in effect that forbids asking questions about salary history as part of the hiring process. Another 17 states have implemented similar laws on a local level. Experts predict that more states and municipalities will follow suit and urge employers to adjust accordingly.
A Sticky Conversation: Training Managers on Tough Comp Discussions, by Bethanye McKinney Blount
Managers have frontline responsibility to employees. They’re often the ones who deliver information about compensation changes. In those conversations, managers must be able to clearly explain to employees why they make what they make, and how they can make more.
Unfortunately, this conversation can be uncomfortable and filled with misinformation — leaving human resources with a messy situation to clean up.
To fix this problem, we need to give managers and right amounts of compensation information, in language they can understand, with context they can relate to, on a recurring and consistent basis. In this piece, Bethanye McKinney Blount — co-founder and CEO at Compaas and a people manager for nearly 20 years — offers some steps to improve those conversations.
The Puzzling Question of a Career Path: Aligning Rewards Strategy with Talent Strategy, by Robert J. Greene, Ph.D.
An organization’s talent strategy is a major contributor to its brand. Its rewards strategy communicates what is important to the organization and how it values contributions. The role that an employee plays generally determines the range of pay potential, in the form of a pay range. Executives are generally paid more than managers, and managers are paid more than subordinates. As a result, there is an economic inducement to climb the organizational hierarchy.
The talent strategy should also be designed to facilitate career progression, but motivating employees to seek promotions may result in a bad fit between what an individual is good at and likes doing and what they end up doing.
This can create a conflict between the rewards strategy and the talent management strategy. Talent management strategies should result in the right people being in the right roles and doing the right things in the right way. People who are placed in roles that enable them to take advantage of their strengths and minimize the impact of their weaknesses are going to be more satisfied, engaged and effective.
Strategic Compensation and Talent Management in the Midst of COVID-19, by Jed DeVaro, Ph.D., California State University, East Bay
Consider two jobs in different organizations and suppose that the jobs are identical except that the co-workers are friendly in one job but not in the other. If the two jobs offer the same monetary compensation, obviously people will prefer to work in the job with the friendly co-workers, which is the only respect in which the jobs differ.
To remain competitive and hire any workers at all, the organization that lacks the friendly co-workers will have to offer a higher level of monetary pay than the other organization. The difference in monetary pay that emerges between the two jobs is a compensating differential. In effect, the pay differential compensates workers for the disappointment of working with co-workers who are not particularly friendly.
The same idea applies to a bad job characteristic, such as nasty co-workers. Employers who offer working environments with nasty co-workers have to pay more to attract and retain workers than employers who offer identical jobs but without the nasty co-workers. That pay difference is a compensating differential, and companies must carefully account for this and what other forms of compensation will appeal most to their people.
Recognized and Rewarded, by Philip Altschuler and Michael Levy
The culture at Gables Residential was quite traditional. Some inside the residential apartment management organization were not convinced that a change in its associate recognition program was necessary, even though the legacy programs typically rewarded associates based on their popularity, rather than performance.
Even so, only 14 percent of associates were recognized each year during regional annual banquet-style recognition events. Associate feedback revealed that, although associates appreciated being recognized, they oftentimes had no idea what they or others did to earn the recognition. In addition, since recognition programs were managed manually, administration was often inconsistent and cumbersome.
The vision that drove the change began with a search for a program that could provide consistent and ongoing recognition throughout the year, instead of only one time per year. This ultimately led to the creation of Gables Ovations, a social recognition platform, accessible by all Gables associates, that has been running successfully to overwhelmingly positive reviews and results for more than three years.
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About the Author
Mark McGraw is the managing editor of Workspan.