Category Archives: compensation

Executive Comp Gets its Credentials

It’s not surprising that the WorldatWork Society of Certified Professionals has developed a new certification for executive compensation, available in October.

As the Washington-based agency notes in its recent announcement of the move, “In the wake of the economic crisis and continued scrutiny of executive compensation by media and shareholders … executive compensation practitioners are being called upon to design and manage programs that attract, motivate and retain dynamic executives and leaders who have the ability to drive positive business results.”

The new certification — designed for executive rewards practitioners, consultants and human resource professionals involved in the design and administration of executive compensation — would help to “ensure that companies are working with knowledgeable and competent executive rewards practitioners,” the release states.

Don Linner, executive compensation practice leader for the Washington-based total-rewards company, says the alternative — poor executive comp practices — “can lead to intense public scrutiny, organizational instability and turnover.”

It’s about time this expertise became legitimate, test-worthy and trustworthy, especially in this environment. Had something like this been in place several years ago, it might have spared a few organizations I can think of some unwanted publicity.

Pay Gap Favoring Men Isn’t Universal

The gender pay gap, where men typically earn more than women, continues to persist. But according to a story posted on Time’s website today, there’s at least one segment of the workforce where the gap now favors women.

In a just released analysis of data from 2,000 communities, Slingerlands, N.Y.-based market research firm Reach Advisors reports that the median full-time salaries of young women who are unmarried, childless and under 30 are 8 percent higher than men in their peer group in 147 of  the 150 biggest U.S. cities.

Because the research was intended primarily for market-research purposes and not to shed light on HR practices, Reach Advisors’ president James Chung declined to comment for this blog post. But in the Time article, he primarily credits education for the difference.

“For every two guys who graduate from college or get a higher degree, three women do,” the Time article said. “This is almost the exact opposite of the graduation ratio that existed when the baby boomers entered college.”

Chung’s conclusion is certainly in line with other studies that show college degrees result in better wages.

Though the economic advantage sometimes disappears as women age and have families, Chung told Time he believes women may now have enough leverage so their financial gains aren’t completely erased as they get older.

In time, I guess we’ll find out whether Chung is right. But at least for now, it’s nice to see study findings that suggest the pay gap in favor of men isn’t true across the board.

And the Mergers (Uh, Make that ‘Acquisitions’) Continue …

… with today’s announcement that Kenexa will acquire Salary.com.

HR technology expert Bill Kutik, who writes a monthly column for HREOnline as well as co-chairs our annual — and upcoming HR Technology® Conference — has the following reaction:

“Kenexa has long sought a Compensation Management solution to round out its suite of Talent Management applications. Even though Salary.com started life selling compensation surveys to corporations (and radically, even to individual applicants!), it has developed a strong market reputation for Compensation Management software and subscriptions for it have represented a substantial part of its revenue.

 “Recently Salary.com tried to widen its footprint, as outlined in February, and clearly some of those were mistakes, including its acquisition and then sale of Genesys, one of our mainframe HRMS providers. The CEO and founder left between those two events.

“The largest question remaining is how quickly Kenexa can integrate Salary’s software onto its new 2x platform, which is already used for Kenexa BrassRing for recruiting and its existing large-company Performance.

 “On the Wall Street conference call Wednesday morning (both Salary and Kenexa are public companies), CEO Rudy Karsan said that could “take years.” But maybe sooner.”

Everybody’s an Intern!

Came across an interesting legal alert from the folks at Jackson Lewis today reminding employers to pay attention to the rules and regulations governing the use of interns.

Mind you, we’ve heard, read and written about this fairly regularly through the years, but what caught my attention was just how prevalent interns may be in American businesses this fall. Seems the recession’s layoff victims who’ve given up trying to get traditional full-time work anytime soon will be trolling for internships right alongside college students.

Many of you have probably heard that as well, too. I had. I just didn’t know how many there might be, and what a range there would be in years of experience and age.

A survey by CareerBuilder,  included in the alert and released earlier this month, shows more than half of the employers polled saying they’ll probably hire interns as full-time, permanent employees. It also shows nearly a fourth of them saying they’re seeing workers with more than 10 years of experience and those ages 50 and older applying for internships at their companies.

Better check out the criteria from Jackson Lewis on how these “unorthodox” interns should be treated, and paid or not paid. It may be great to have the pick of the litter for positions you’re opening in the coming months, but make sure you don’t crash this handy system by breaking the law.

Unions Hiring Nonunion Workers

“… even unions recognize that union workers are sometimes just too pricey for the job,” writes Brian Doherty on Reason magazine’s Hit & Run blog, referring to the Wall Street Journal story about the carpenter’s union hiring nonunion workers — at minimum wage — to protest at a construction site.

Of course, this is not news to HRE readers. We wrote about the carpenter’s union outsourcing its picket-line duties about three years ago

In our story, we quoted Paul Salvatore, a partner with Proskauer, who was fairly blase about the whole issue, noting that the days of people refusing to cross picket lines for ideological reasons have mostly disappeared.

He also compared the nonunion picketers to ghost writers. “These are ghost picketers, if you will,” he said.

On the Clock: Men vs. Women

The New York Times Economix blog has an interesting post and graph this morning that takes a look at the composition of the American workforce by time of day.

In the post, Casey B. Mulligan, an economics professor at the University of Chicago, posits that one of the reasons women are typically paid less than men is because women work more “desirable schedules.”

According to Mulligan:

“The vast majority of workers perceive work from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to be more desirable than work during the off-hours, and many of the off-hours workers are compensated with higher pay for the less desirable schedule. A variety of factors — including, some economists and many women’s rights advocates say, gender discrimination — may cause women to be paid less than men, but part of the reason may be the hours they choose to work.”

Total Rewards with a Twist of Customization

Two studies released Monday at the WorldatWork’s Total Reward 2010 Conference in Dallas, Texas shed light on what employers might want to do differently as they begin to staff up again.

During a session on the conference’s opening day, researchers from Texas A&M University shared the findings of a recent study of accounting students that found the influence of particular rewards and benefits frequently depended on the outcomes being sought (i.e. attraction, motivation or retention). The study, “The Relative Influence of Total Rewards Elements on Attraction, Motivation and Retention,” found that career development was especially important to students pursuing a career in accounting. Meanwhile, work/life benefits and performance recognition were much more important to those who ended up employed at one of the Big Four account firms for several months. (Response rates of the different groups studied over the several year period ranged from 159 to 232.)

Similarly, a study entitled “Beyond Compensation: How Employees Prioritize Total Rewards at Various Life Stages” found that respondents valued different rewards at different stages of their lives, with development significantly more important for employees under 40 and benefits much more important to breadwinners, especially female breadwinners. (The study of 678 adults was conducted by Next Generation Consulting and Dieringer Research Group.)

Most HR leaders aren’t going to be terribly surprised by the studies’ conclusions. Indeed, both seem to be in line with the findings of earlier research projects. But if there continues to be any doubting Thomases out there who still think they can get away with a one-size-fits-all approach to total rewards—and one suspects there are—then perhaps these findings will give them reason to pause and reconsider.

Rebecca Ryan, CEO of Next Generation Consulting, suggested to attendees that employers might be well served by stealing a lesson from Starbucks’ playbook and the way it was able to build its business by customizing coffee and latte drinks—as in “I’ll have a triple decaf Grande Latte with skim”—when it comes to designing their total-reward programs.

Meanwhile, Mercer Senior Partner Steve Gross is scheduled to share the findings of a third survey on Tuesday that found companies continue to invest in their total-reward programs during the economic downturn and modify the elements of “total rewards.”

The study revealed that 50 percent of the 741 responding multinational companies responding consider “work-life initiatives” a staple of total rewards, while four in 10 reported they either enhanced or added wellness programs during the past 12 months.

All three studies were sponsored by WorldatWork. The Total Rewards 2010 Conference runs through this Wednesday and is expected to attract around 1,500 attendees.

What Doesn’t Get Reported

It always impresses me how much we journalists are forced to leave in our reporter pads and memory cells when we cover events or conduct interviews.

Take this one session I wrote about from our recent Human Resource Executive Forum® in New York. The session — focusing on re-engaging workforces after the recession to carry them through the recovery and beyond, and moderated by Charlie Tharp — was well attended and well run (thanks in large part to Tharp on both accounts).

When American Express CHRO Kevin Cox started describing the day he got the call from a fellow senior executive about what the federal government actually had in mind in terms of new rules and oversights for bailout-funded financial institutions — including Amex — when it comes to executive compensation, you could have heard a pin drop. There were silently nodding heads all around me. Basically everyone seemed to be hanging on his every word.

I was spellbound, too, by Cox’s full transparency about that moment and the feelings he had. I used his quote about his company’s “near-death experience” but there was so much more he said, about the helplessness he felt when other senior leaders came to him asking if there was any way around this new chokehold from the nation’s capital. He talked about feeling completely powerless to do what he was supposed to do as the head of HR. He described where he was at the time the call came in — on vacation — and what it was like staying on his cell phone for the next few hours, getting patched in here and patched in there.

What really impressed me, too, were the expressions on the faces of fellow HR practitioners in the audience. You could see it, feel it in the air. They not only seemed to share the pain, many — I sensed — had already experienced something similar in waking up to the new reality, the new sheriff in town, the new less-than-supportive “take” on corporate America they could feel emanating from D.C. 

We’ll actually be looking at this new reality through the eyes of some of the nation’s most powerful employment attorneys in our June issue, so stay tuned for that. For now, take it from me, within this country’s HR circles, the impact of the “new deal” in Washington is palpable.  

Not in it for the Money

Executive recruiters say there’s a good reason HR professionals don’t get the outrageous bonuses given to some in the finance industry.

They just don’t care that much about the money, they say, according to an article on eFinancial Careers, a UK job board that is part of Dice.

Instead, says one recruiter, HR leaders are “driven by the relationship they have with the line manager and what’s going on in the business.”

I’m sure money would be nice, too!