Compensation: Outline and Definitions
Compensation is a systematic approach to providing monetary value to employees in exchange for work performed. Compensation may achieve several purposes assisting in recruitment, job performance, and job satisfaction.
- How is compensation used?
- What are the components of a compensation system?
- What are different types of compensation?
How is compensation used?
Compensation is a tool used by management for a variety of purposes to further the existance of the company. Compensation may be adjusted according the the business needs, goals, and available resources.
Compensation may be used to:
- recruit and retain qualified employees.
- increase or maintain morale/satisfaction.
- reward and encourage peak performance.
- achieve internal and external equity.
- reduce turnover and encourage company loyalty.
- modify (through negotiations) practices of unions.
Recruitment and retention of qualified employees is a common goal shared by many employers. To some extent, the availability and cost of qualified applicants for open positions is determined by market factors beyond the control of the employer. While an employer may set compensation levels for new hires and advertize those salary ranges, it does so in the context of other employers seeking to hire from the same applicant pool.
Morale and job satisfaction are affected by compensation. Often there is a balance (equity) that must be reached between the monetary value the employer is willing to pay and the sentiments of worth felt be the employee. In an attempt to save money, employers may opt to freeze salaries or salary levels at the expence of satisfaction and morale. Conversely, an employer wishing to reduce employee turnover may seek to increase salaries and salary levels.
Compensation may also be used as a reward for exceptional job performance. Examples of such plans include: bonuses, commissions, stock, profit sharing, gain sharing.
What are the components of a compensation system?
Compensation will be perceived by employees as fair if based on systematic components. Various compensation systems have developed to determine the value of positions. These systems utilize many similar components including job descriptions, salary ranges/structures, and written procedures
The components of a compensation system include
- Job Descriptions A critical component of both compensation and selection systems, job descriptions define in writing the responsibilities, requirements, functions, duties, location, environment, conditions, and other aspects of jobs. Descriptions may be developed for jobs individually or for entire job families.
- Job Analysis The process of analyzing jobs from which job descriptions are developed. Job analysis techniques include the use of interviews, questionnaires, and observation.
- Pay Structures Useful for standardizing compensation practices. Most pay structures include several grades with each grade containing a minimum salary/wage and either step increments or grade range. Step increments are common with union positions where the pay for each job is pre-determined through collective bargaining.
- Salary Surveys Collections of salary and market data. May include average salaries, inflation indicators, cost of living indicators, salary budget averages. Companies may purchase results of surveys conducted by survey vendors or may conduct their own salary surveys. When purchasing the results of salary surveys conducted by other vendors, note that surveys may be conducted within a specific industry or across industries as well as within one geographical region or across different geographical regions. Know which industry or geographic location the salary results pertain to before comparing the results to your company.
Compensation will be perceived as fair if it is comprised of a system of components developed to maintain internal and external equity
What are different types of compensation?
Different types of compensation include:
- Base Pay
- Overtime Pay
- Bonuses, Profit Sharing, Merit Pay
- Stock Options
- Travel/Meal/Housing Allowance
- Benefits including: dental, insurance, medical, vacation, leaves, retirement, taxes...
What are regulations affecting compensation?
Develop a program outline.
Designate an individual to oversee designing the compensation program.
- Set an objective for the program.
- Establish target dates for implementation and completion.
- Determine a budget.
Develop a compensation philosophy.
- Determine whether this position will be permanent or temporary.
- Determine who will oversee the program once it is established.
- Determine the cost of going outside versus looking inside.
- Determine the cost of a consultant's review.
Conduct a job analysis of all positions.
- Form a compensation committee (presumably consisting of officers or at least including one officer of the company).
- Decide what, if any, differences should exist in pay structures for executives, professional employees, sales employees, and so on (e.g., hourly versus salaried rates, incentive-based versus noncontingent pay).
- Determine whether the company should set salaries at, above, or below market.
- Decide the extent to which employee benefits should replace or supplement cash compensation.
- Conduct a general task analysis by major departments. What tasks must be accomplished by whom?
- Get input from senior vice presidents of marketing, finance, sales, administration, production, and other appropriate departments to determine the organizational structure and primary functions of each.
- Interview department managers and key employees, as necessary, to determine their specific job functions.
- Decide which job classifications should be exempt and which should be nonexempt.
- Develop model job descriptions for exempt and nonexempt positions and distribute the models to incumbents for review and comment; adjust job descriptions if necessary.
- Develop a final draft of job descriptions.
- Meet with department managers, as necessary, to review job descriptions.
- Finalize and document all job descriptions.
- Rank the jobs within each senior vice president's and manager's department, and then rank jobs between and among departments.
- Verify ranking by comparing it to industry market data concerning the ranking, and adjust if necessary.
- Prepare a matrix organizational review.
- On the basis of required tasks and forecasted business plans, develop a matrix of jobs crossing lines and departments.
- Compare the matrix with data from both the company structure and the industrywide market.
- Prepare flow charts of all ranks for each department for ease of interpretation and assessment.
- Present data and charts to the compensation committee for review and adjustment.
Establish grade pricing and salary range.
- Establish the number of levels - senior, junior, intermediate, and beginner - for each job family and assign a grade to each level.
- Determine the number of pay grades, or monetary range of a position at a particular level, within each department.
Determine an appropriate salary structure.
- Establish benchmark (key) jobs.
- Review the market price of benchmark jobs within the industry.
- Establish a trend line in accordance with company philosophy (i.e., where the company wants to be in relation to salary ranges in the industry).
Develop a salary administration policy.
- Determine the difference between each salary step.
- Determine a minimum and a maximum percent spread.
- Slot the remaining jobs.
- Review job descriptions.
- Verify the purpose, necessity, or other reasons for maintaining a position.
- Meet with the compensation committee for review, adjustments, and approval.
Obtain top executives' approval of the basic salary program.
- Develop and document the general company policy.
- Develop and document specific policies for selected groups.
- Develop and document a strategy for merit raises and other pay increases, such as cost-of-living adjustments, bonuses, annual reviews, and promotions.
- Develop and document procedures to justify the policy (e.g., performance appraisal forms, a merit raise schedule).
- Meet with the compensation committee for review, adjustments, and approval.
Communicate the final program to employees and managers.
- Develop and present cost impact studies that project the expense of bringing the present staff up to the proposed levels.
- Present data to the compensation committee for review, adjustment, and approval.
- Present data to the executive operating committee (senior managers and officers) for review and approval.
Monitor the program.
- Present the plan to the compensation committee for feedback, adjustments, review, and approval.
- Make a presentation to executive staff managers for approval or change, and incorporate necessary changes.
- Develop a plan for communicating the new program to employees, using slide shows or movies, literature, handouts, etc.
- Make presentations to managers and employees. Implement the program.
- Design and develop detailed systems, procedures, and forms.
- Work with HR information systems staff to establish effective implementation procedures, to develop appropriate data input forms, and to create effective monitoring reports for senior managers.
- Have the necessary forms printed.
- Develop and determine format specifications for all reports.
- Execute test runs on the human resources information system.
- Execute the program.
- Monitor feedback from managers.
- Make changes where necessary.
- Find flaws or problems in the program and adjust or modify where necessary.