Compensation: It Pays to Plan

There’s no denying the tight labor market in the North Bay right now. Between wildfire upheaval and rebuild and current immigration policies and concerns, unemployment is low—and many local industries and employers are feeling the impact firsthand.

There is a way to not only stay competitive but to thrive, even when workers are in such short supply and high demand. It’s time to take advantage of compensation as an effective tool for attracting, rewarding and retaining the very best employees for your organization.


Your Compensation Philosophy

The foundation of any compensation system should be your compensation philosophy: a formal statement that defines how your organization views and manages compensation. When creating it, you’ll want to take into account:

  • Mission and strategy. Foremost, use your compensation philosophy to support your organization’s needs, goals and objectives.
  • Organizational culture. Evaluate whether your current culture is one of entitlement or contribution oriented, and consider how you would like compensation to recognize achievement.
  • Workforce. Think about your workforce characteristics (Are your employees entry-level? Highly skilled top performers? Critical resources?), and determine a philosophy that is appropriate for them.
  • Internal factors. Be cognizant of your organization size and financial position.
  • External factors. In order to stay competitive, be sure to adequately reflect the local economy, labor market, industry market ranges, etc.
  • Equity. Emphasize fair, consistent, transparent pay practices that are compliant with all applicable laws and regulations.

Your compensation philosophy is your opportunity—your chance to match, stay competitive or lead the market in your industry. The experts at Leap Solutions can help you develop or refine a relevant, progressive and sustainable compensation philosophy that can reflect, adapt and evolve with changing conditions.


Philosophy in Action

Once you have your compensation philosophy in place, it’s time to put it into action. Start with questions, such as:

  • Does your organization have trouble hiring? If so, in which jobs or geographical areas?
  • How long do employees typically stay? What is the turnover rate?
  • Why do employees leave? Where are they going?
  • Do your employees feel valued? Well compensated?
  • What are your employee development strategies?
  • What are your promotion policies?

Your answers—and sometimes your inability to answer—will be telling about what areas might need attention, and we can help you assess and address them with creative and effective compensation strategies.

Salary Strategies

As you know, California employers can no longer ask a job applicant about prior salary history. But don’t worry! With a solid, well-informed compensation strategy in place, you don’t need that personal data to make a competitive job offer. (Under California law, employers may reach out, after giving a job offer, to the selected applicant’s previous employer to verify prior salary. However, in certain jurisdictions, including San Francisco, employers may not disclose the salary history of any current or former employee to a prospective employer without written authorization from the employee.)

The best way to prepare your salary strategy is to conduct a market-based compensation analysis based on job, region, function, relative value and industry. With insider access to multiple accurate, up-to-the-minute market data systems that aren’t available to the public, Leap Solutions can partner with you to update your pay scales (and job descriptions, job tiers and job families as needed) and establish a compensation system that will carry you forward as your business grows.


Beyond the Dollar

Compensation is much more than money. There’s the obvious direct compensation (wages, commissions and bonuses, short-term and long-term incentive pay, achievement awards), and there’s indirect compensation (legally required benefits, medical benefits, retirement programs). And then there are the perks that can really set you apart as an employer and help you attract and retain the very finest talent:

  • Time can be invaluable, and employees treasure time off opportunities, alternative work weeks, and more.
  • Today’s employees appreciate flexible work schedules, telecommuting arrangements and other ways of managing their own workdays.
  • Work-life balance is hugely sought after, and simple allowances such as casual Fridays, charity days and modified summer schedules can make employees feel valued as whole, well-rounded individuals.
  • Membership to health and wellness programs and fitness clubs can show employees that you care about their wellbeing.
  • By offering education reimbursement and access to coaching and training programs, you invest in professional and personal development that serves both the employee and your company.
  • Don’t forget simple extras like meals, parking, product discounts and technology (i.e. software or hardware to make an employee’s job easier and more efficient and enjoyable).
  • Profit sharing, pension plans, retention incentives for seasonal workers and sponsorship of employment visas are all ways to energize and retain good employees.
  • Don’t underestimate the draw of an organizational culture that is exceptionally supportive, collaborative and fun. Your enthusiasm about your workplace will be contagious!

Many of these perks don’t even affect your bottom line, and those that do often require little to no upfront cost. However, they can make all the difference in getting fantastic candidates in the door and keeping existing employees satisfied, engaged and loyal.


Playing Fair

Above all, your compensation structure needs to be consistent and fair. That means it can be entirely appropriate to grant one employee a 2% raise and another 4%—so long as you can confidently answer how and why you pay the way you do. It also means eliminating the squeaky-wheel concept (giving only to those who make noise) and avoiding blanket bonuses or raises, which can create resentment among top performers. Employees will know that you determine compensation on a well-thought, well-documented combination of business need, educational background, skill set, performance and more.

When you’ve worked with Leap Solutions to develop a compensation philosophy and implement compensation strategies that are thoroughly researched, based on real market data, free of any discriminatory practices and presented with transparency, your employees and potential employees will have faith that they are being treated fairly and equitably. Further, they’ll feel valued and rewarded for their contribution, motivated to succeed and encouraged to grow and prosper along with your organization.



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