Delicious Amber Transparency

6a0134836082f8970c01b7c7e30888970b-200wiWe talk a lot about pay transparency. It seems like half the time half of compensation professionals argue for more and half argue for less. New Belgium Brewing is a company who does a great job at being open. In fact, they are so good that they are an example used by the media, other companies and even the U.S. Government.  More importantly, they seem like great company.

Kim Jordan, the cofounder of New Belgium, has made it a priority to make sure the company is always paying a living wage. Her passion for making sure everyone at New Belgium has the opportunity to thrive is an essential component of Continue reading

IN MEMORIUM: FAREWELL ANNUAL RAISE

untitledAn article was published last week with data from Aon Hewitt and Towers Watson that showed the annual pay raise is essentially dead (and in Towers Watson’s case, bonus pools will also be underfunded). The data apparently shows that we will deliver base pay as a flat amount going forward. Increases in pay will come from incentive plans, if they are funded. Let’s cast a fond farewell to a method of pay that has existed for as long as people have been paid.

Thankfully, we Continue reading

Speed, Velocity and Acceleration in Pay

untitledI was reading a Facebook message a parent posted about their kid’s physics homework and it resonated as a reminder for the compensation world. The question was how do you explain the differences between speed, velocity and acceleration. A few years ago, I wrote an article about Newton’s Three Laws of Compensation Motion and I guess it’s time for another physics lesson.

Speed is a point on a graph. It tells you a whole bunch about an instant. Much of the data we use in compensation is like this.  We know exactly the amount or percentage, but we have little information regarding the path to that point. We feel like we somehow already have this information, but in most cases it’s a deception. Most pay data provides as little Continue reading

Three Ways Average Companies Pay Their Employees

untitledI just watched a great TED talk from a few years ago. In it, Todd Rose discusses the “average” in the context of creating learning environments. He provides a fascinating story about the U.S. Air Force and their path to creating effective fighter jets. Just a quick summary: The first cockpits built were based on a series of measurements for the average pilot. But, even as the jets became better and better, the Air Force experienced worse and worse accidents. In the meantime, someone decided to measure a whole bunch of pilots. Surprise! Not a single pilot matched the set of average measurements.

You probably see where I am going with this.

The Air Force took this new information and created new cockpit guidelines that allowed pilots at the extremes to be comfortable. Of course, manufacturers protested, but in the end they built to the new requirements. This necessitated innovations like moveable seats and adjustable controls (where do you think your car got these innovations.) In the end, the new planes had far fewer accidents and much happier pilots. And, everyone lived happily ever after. The end.

At least 50% of those that reach out to me start the conversation by asking, “what does everyone else do.” We all know that the vast majority of companies target the 50th percentile for almost every position. Companies want to build simple vanilla pay programs even when they Continue reading

CEO Pay is a Problem, but not THE Problem

untitledFirst, I want to make it clear that plenty of CEOs are paid way too much money, but most are probably paid in accordance with the value they deliver. But, that is a topic for another post.

Let’s talk about how much CEOs get paid. I took a quick look at the CEO pay for the 2013 Fortune 100. In 2013, these 100 individuals were paid cumulative compensation of $918M! That is a lot of money; in fact, it’s a smack in the face. They are paid so much obviously they must be the most heavy-hitting movers and shakers among the wealthiest people in our country. So, I checked the 2015 list of Fortune’s 400 wealthiest Americans*.

It turns out the Continue reading

Paying Everyone Equally is a Terrible Idea

untitledMany of you may have read about Gravity Payments, the company in Seattle, Washington with the magnanimous CEO who decided to do the right thing. In April the CEO, Dan Price (great name for a comp article), decided to cut his own pay from $1Miliion to $70,000 annually and use the difference to provide raises in base pay to nearly the entire company. His goal was a minimum base pay of $70,000 for everyone. How could this possible go wrong? And, the media asked, “Why can’t everyone see how wonderful this is and do the same thing.”

Compensation professionals may immediately see some holes in this logic, but let’s list some of big items so we are Continue reading

5 Predictions about CEO Pay Ratio

Its All About the Golden Ratio (2)On August 5, 2015 the SEC voted to approve a new rule on the disclosure of the ratio of CEO pay to that of the median employee. This rule was a requirement of the Dodd-Frank Law passed in 2010. The details of the rule and what companies must do to prepare for it are all over the internet. This article covers what we can expect as a result over the next several years. Continue reading

5 Lessons for a Compensation Department of None

untitledOver the last few years, we have seen a rise in attention to the all too common, “HR Department of One”. These jacks-and-jills-of-all-trades, (and master of many), must be the policy maker, recruiter, trainer, confidant and much more for many companies. Often, on this very site, we talk about “compensation departments and compensation professionals” as if every company has one or both. But, what if, as is often the case, a company has NO compensation professional on staff? Or, what if the company has a great compensation analyst with little or no training in executive compensation, sales compensation or some other important specialty?

Many successful companies operate with Continue reading

1.8 Million Reasons NOT to Become CEO

1point8 million reasons not to work-f2 (2)Being the CEO of a company is a great job, if you can get it. It’s an even better job if you can be paid NOT to get it!

Coty is the multinational beauty manufacturer of brands such as: Calvin Klein fragrances, Davidoff perfumes, Adidas Bodycare, and Sally Hansen nail care products. The company has just announced that it must pay someone $1.8 million even though they didn’t actually work as the company’s CEO. How in the world can this happen? Let me explain. Continue reading

There are Only Two Pay Philosophies

untitledWe, the compensation professionals of planet earth, work hard to define the whys and hows of our pay programs. We build out details on our objectives for pay levels, definitions of peers, pay mix and plan details. We define the purpose of each pay element and its alignment to the company, shareholders, individuals and in some cases, the world itself. We put all of this together into words, rules, charts and slides and call it our compensation philosophy. I have been, for as long I have worked in this profession, a huge advocate of great compensation philosophies.

Like many of you, Continue reading