At this week’s Total Rewards 2012 conference in Orlando, speakers from Boeing reminded attendees that there often is more than one way to read a piece of data.
During a session titled “Compensation, Fix Employee Pay! When Compensation Professionals are Asked to Address Low Scores on Employee Surveys,” two Boeing comp professionals—Senior Compensation Specialist Cindy Jorgensen and Compensation Specialist Ron Steele Jr.—talked about their efforts to get to bottom of why employees at Boeing’s South Carolina facility had a low opinion of the company’s pay practices.
Steele told those in the room that Boeing’s pay is extremely competitive in South Carolina—where the company employs about 6,000 workers who are dedicated to the building of its 787 (pictured here). But apparently that wasn’t the consensus among Boeing employees there.
Asked to rate the fairness of pay during a 2011 employee survey, workers at the South Carolina operation gave Boeing low marks. (The survey was conducted with the help of Kenexa.)
At first glance, Steele said, the data pointed to a pay system that needed fixing. But a closer look suggested there might be other factors at work here.
To figure out what those factors might be, the comp folks began to drill deeper into the data, looking at (among other things) how the South Carolina findings compared to those found at other Boeing operations and in other industries; and by reading through page after page of verbatim comments from the employee surveys. (Boeing employees “aren’t shy,” Steele said.)
This was followed by a series of employee focus groups, which eventually shed some much-needed light on the issue.
In the end, the group’s persistence paid off.
Jorgensen and Steele concluded that the low scores had less to do with what employees were being paid and more to do with employees who didn’t really understand the pay system at Boeing.
That, in turn, led to a much more meaningful response (my words) focusing on initiatives that could have a positive impact, such as managerial training and employee education.