The Survey Group - NewsLink Archive

NewsLink Archive

Unlimited Vacation: Benefit or Burden? (April 2016)

I remember quite clearly the moment when I became an adult — it happened precisely when I realized that, at any given moment, I could eat as much ice cream as I wanted. I was in control of my own destiny! I dashed to the freezer, but then paused mid-spoonful. The weight of my responsibility had suddenly hit me: without anyone setting limits on how much ice cream I could eat, I now had to make that troubling decision myself. Unlimited vacation time, it turns out, has a lot of the same complexities for employees. Read on...

Salary Surveys: Why You Need Them (March 2016)

For those who attended our "Introduction to Compensation" seminar a few months ago, you might remember us chatting about the importance of participation in compensation surveys. (For those who didn't attend, you missed a wild time.) And yet, while most company leaders enjoy hearing the words "compensation survey" only slightly less than the words, "tax evasion penalties," the benefits go far beyond what you see at first glance. Read on...

Are Your Employees Engaged? (February 2016)

Thinking about getting your employees engaged? You know, getting down on one-knee and asking them to be more involved with your organization. But seriously, do you really know how engaged they are or aren't? Have you tried to measure it? Employee engagement surveys might sound like a snore, but they actually serve a key purpose: Engaged employees are satisfied and satisfaction results in increased loyalty, better job performance, and more goals scored in inter-office foosball tournaments. Read on...

10 Goals for Human Resources (January 2016)

For us HR pros, now's a fantastic time to do a little housecleaning and get our programs in top shape for 2016. This checklist I've put together can help you get rolling. Read on...

Turnover is Rising (October 2015)

Turnover. Unless we're talking about the delicious apple variety, "turnover" is usually a word that spooks employers. As it well should - as the economy continues to improve, turnover rates in New England are on the rise. Losing an employee can be a huge resource vacuum. Not only are you saddled with lost productivity and the cost of finding a replacement, you'll have to retrain the new hire, too. Losing a steady stream of employees, well - that's a tough reality some companies are now facing. Read on...

Outlook for 2016 Salary Increases (September 2015)

Month after month, companies from around the country are showing that compensation programs are once again increasingly important when it comes to hiring and retaining those "high performers" that keep your business at the top of its game. Read on...

War for Talent? Time to Get Yourself an Arsenal (May 2015)

In the recruiting industry, the phrase, "War for Talent," gets bandied about like pigs feet at a luau. Personally, I think it's a bit overdramatic. After all, as a group, we HR pros tend to lean towards the gentler side of things. Couldn't we scale it back to "Skirmish for Skills" or "Commotion for Competence?" Then again, with thousands of jobs being added each month, unemployment at its lowest point in years and turnover on the rise, maybe "War for Talent" isn't so far off the mark. Read on...

'Tis the Survey Season (April 2015)

Nowadays, it seems like everyone has their “season.” Accountants have tax season; Red Sox Nation has baseball season; and for HR professionals, we have survey season. Read on...

Benefits of a Flexible Worplace (February 2015)

I don't know where you live, but looking out my window right now I see a big, fluffy wall of white. This winter's massive snow storms in the Northeast and beyond have forced many organizations into not only exceeding their hot chocolate budgets, but also into becoming aware of how they can use flexible work arrangements to keep projects moving forward and customers well served. Read on...

10 Resolutions for HR Pros (January 2015)

Each January, many of us make New Year's Resolutions for our personal and work lives. I'm no different. This year, my resolutions include giving up chocolate entirely, ending my habit of saying the same thing twice to people, completely finishing a tube of chap stick, and ending my habit of saying the same thing twice to people. Shoot. In any case, here are TSG's top resolution suggestions for the coming year. Read on...

HR Staffing Ratios (December 2014)

I hear a lot of different reasons from HR clients about why they have trouble getting all their work done: Poor lighting, weak coffee, a sudden abundance of LinkedIn invitations… you know the drill. But, nothing crops up more than the legitimate complaint of "not enough people power." Read on...

7 Ways to Retain Your Best Employees (October 2014)

Turnover – it's a word that strikes fear into the hearts of many employers (unless you happen to employ chefs, in which case, turnovers are just a menu item.) After all, voluntary turnover rates (defined as an employee deciding to leave a job on his/her own) are up to 16.8%, nearly two points higher than the 15.0% rate we saw in 2013. Read on...

Solving the Compensation Puzzle (September 2014)

I've long been a fan of jigsaw puzzles. They're challenging, they don't require batteries, and there's nothing quite like the satisfaction of placing that final piece. That said, they can also be a pretty good recipe for migraines and soul-crushing frustration. At times, your compensation program may also feel like a bit of a jigsaw puzzle. Read on...

Exempt or Nonexempt, That Is the Question (August 2014)

Wasn't it Bill Shakespeare (or B-Shakes as he would be known today) who said "Exempt or nonexempt, that is the question"? After all, I'm sure he logged plenty of overtime hours writing Hamlet, so filing a complaint with the Department of Labor would certainly have crossed his mind. Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) lawsuits, like the one Bill might have filed, are on the rise (up 5% in just the last year alone). But not to worry – as long as you follow the tips below when it comes to overtime pay and exempt vs. nonexempt employee status, you'll be in the clear when it comes to even the toughest Department of Labor (DOL) Audit. Read on...

Sharing Compensation Data: Is it Legal? (July 2014)

When it comes to staying inside the law, I tend to walk the straight and narrow: I come to a complete stop at STOP signs. I void where prohibited. And I have never, not once, even considered tugging on Superman's cape (that's illegal, right?). So when several TSG members told me that their lawyers had advised them not to give out their salary and compensation data, "for legal reasons," I thought I should put together a little guide on the topic to ease everyone's mind. Read on...

Flip Flops - Dress Code Violation! (June 2014)

(Disclaimer: If I had my way, we’d all be in flip-flops every day. But, apparently that’s “frowned upon” in the corporate environment. Read on for how to navigate this touchy subject from an HR perspective.) Read on...

Our Top 25 Non-Cash Rewards (May 2014)

I don't know about you, but I've always been a believer in that age-old maxim: "Cash is King." And yet, I'm also well aware that over time, even royalty can lose its impact (don't tell the Queen Mother). Nowhere is this more true than on the subject of compensation. Particularly as organizations are forced to do more with less, other means of rewarding employees - besides cash - will necessarily come into play. Read on...

10 Elements of Successful Sales Compensation (April 2014)

I came across a notice for a seminar titled "Design a Sales Compensation Plan in 10 Minutes or Less." While it certainly sounded appealing, I have a feeling that this seminar may have been designed by the same folks that brought us "Raise a Child in 10 Minutes or Less!" I'm all for saving time, but it seems like these programs might be glossing over a thing or two. Read on...

How to Spot a Secret Compensation Program (March 2014)

For such an information-packed world, there sure are a lot of secrets out there – The CIA, Coke's secret recipe, how the candy bowl at the reception desk mysteriously gets emptied a day after it's filled (why is everyone looking at me?) Even so, in this era of open communication and transparency, secrets are often painted as a bad thing. When it comes to your compensation program, though, should it be kept a secret from your employees? Read on to find out...

Maxed Out Employees - Red Light (February 2014)

Ever play "Red Light/Green Light" as a kid? If you didn't, you missed out. After "Red Rover, Red Rover," it's an all-time classic. When it comes to dealing with salary-maxed employees, it can feel the same way - everyone rushing towards you at once, as you try to decide when it's time to yell "Red light!" Read on...

8 Reasons You Should Participate in Salary Surveys (January 2014)

I ran an "Introduction to Compensation" seminar earlier this month, amid much fanfare (okay, maybe "fanfare" is a bit of stretch). Among many things, we chatted about the importance of participating in compensation surveys. If you're anything like the average company leader, though, you're probably wondering, "Who needs compensation surveys, anyway? Aren't they agonizing and painful for all involved, much like the polar vortex?" Read on...

Outlook for 2014 Salary Increases (December 2013)

Everyone always seems to be waiting for something. Kids wait all year for Christmas; some people wait years to get married; others still are on the edge of their seats awaiting the release of Star Wars: Episode VII (or is that just me?). Read on...

Happy Halloween … and the Holidays In-Between (October 2013)

Between free candy, pumpkin-carving, and neighbors saying, "Sir - aren't you a bit old to be trick-or-treating?," there's really nothing not to like. This year, I'm debating between dressing up as a "Super Fan" (complete with a World Champion Red Sox uniform and fake beard) or as something "Super Scary," like Dracula, or a member of Congress. Read on...

Job Title Conundrum (August 2013)

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." You'll likely recognize that line from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. (If you don't recognize that line, you may be required to retake 9th grade English.) Minus the metaphor, Shakespeare's logic is simple - it's the thing that counts, not the name. Well said, Bill. Read on...

2014 Salary Increases (July 2013)

It's the moment we've all been waiting for. Across the land, employees perch on the edge of their seats, rubbing their hands together in anticipation. No, nobody's brought in cupcakes (but good guess). It's time for yearly salary increases, and everyone from Boston to California is gunning for a few more dollars in their paychecks. Read on...

Checklist Mania (March 2013)

I can't deny it - I love checklists. From to-do lists to grocery lists, packing lists to honey-do lists, I have them all. (Coming soon: A checklist for the types of checklists that I'd like to make in the future.) Read on...

Can You Name 6 Reasons for Participating in Surveys? (April 2012)

Some have tax season, others have allergy season and Red Sox Nation has baseball season. But HR professionals have Salary Survey Season and it is going on right now. Read on...

Give Us 100% and We'll Give You Great Compensation Data (March 2012)

As you may already know, in response to your feedback we have consolidated all of our compensation surveys into one comprehensive survey, the 2012 Benchmark Compensation Survey (sorry, but I had to repeat the exciting news!). Read on...

How to Cure Pay Compression (February 2012)

In my Compensation Management seminar last month, several patients, I mean attendees, mentioned that pay compression was a chronic compensation issue in their organizations. Pay compression exists when new hires are brought in at higher salary levels than current incumbents in the same jobs. As the rate of hiring increases due to organizational growth, so will the associated symptoms, including compensation side effects like salary compression. Read on...

How to Manage Labor Cost (January 2012)

When I teach Compensation seminars, I tell attendees if they have anything to do with managing the salary program, they should give themselves a promotion to CFO of Labor Cost. Since salaries are the largest cost item in most organizations, it is extremely important HR professionals manage the process of salary planning effectively. Read on...

Is it the Job or the Person that Determines Pay? (December 2011)

Throughout 2011, I have frequently been asked this question. Just this month two TSG members asked me about paying for the job versus paying for the person in the role. And, during a Human Resources Director Group meeting last month, someone asked the same question. I told the 50 attendees at the meeting I would address the question in the next newsletter. Since I publically committed, this month I'll answer the question: Is it the job or the person that determines pay? Read on...

Give Me 3 Minutes and I Could Save You 8 Hours (November 2011)

Are you a current TSG member? Are you thinking about joining or considering rejoining as a member? If so, then take 3 minutes to read how we plan to save you 8 hours (or more) over the next year. Read on...

5 Ways to Increase Employee Retention (October 2011)

It's almost Halloween... Are you giving treats to your employees? I'm not talking about the kind that adds calories and causes cavities (and would undermine your Wellness Program). I'm referring to employee recognition. This month I highlight several programs your organization could use to make every day like Halloween and, in the process, increase employee retention. Read on...

Do You Know the Answer to the #1 Question Facing HR? (September 2011)

Those born in 1961 turn 50 this year, including The Survey Group. Turning 50 isn't really all that bad, not that I speak from personal experience or anything… 50 is the new 40, or is it the new 30? To commemorate this major TSG milestone we held our Annual Meeting and 50 Year Celebration at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston on September 27th. Read on...

How to Evaluate Admin Assistant Jobs (August 2011)

A CEO of a major high technology company with 90,000 employees asked his Compensation Department to evaluate more than 1,000 Administrative Assistant jobs across the company (true story). As a result, each Administrative Assistant had a job analysis interview and a position description questionnaire completed to understand the duties and responsibilities of each individual job. Each position was then placed into a grade level based on job content. Read on...

Can You Identify Eight Qualities of a Champion Employer? (June 2011)

As I was watching the Bruins Stanley Cup Parade with over a million fans cheering wildly, I wondered if there was a "championship" for employers. In fact there is something similar to a championship for employers and it is called the Best Places to Work, sponsored by the Boston Business Journal. Read on...

How to Design a Solid Sales Plan (May 2011)

Have you ever wondered if the sales people working at the clothing stores in the mall earn sales commissions? I thought they might, since when you pay at the register they always ask "Did anyone assist you today?" Read on...

How to Age Salary Survey Data (April 2011)

Since turning 30 I sometimes wonder, does everything improve with age? Since TSG celebrates its 50 year anniversary this year, I tend to think so. Wine, cheese, friendships, whiskey, vanilla, shade trees, antiques, beef, leather and yes, even humans, get better with age. Read on...

How to Evaluate Employee Reported Salary Data (March 2011)

We all want something for free, and the web seems to be the perfect place to find free stuff… Already this month I've had a CFO and an HR Manager ask me about the merits of using salary data from the web that is obtained directly from employees, for free. Read on...

10 Ways to Reduce Healthcare Costs (February 2011)

I know this isn't a newsflash… but benefits are getting more and more expensive! I just received TSG's renewal rates for medical, dental and life insurance and the cost of each is increasing significantly. What can we do to stem the tide of benefit-related expenses, especially those related to healthcare plans? This month I'll share the top 10 answers found in our 2011 Employee Benefits Survey, published this past month. Read on...

How to Communicate Rewards Programs (January 2011)

Do you know what's in your wallet? The other day when I cleaned out mine I counted 28 loyalty rewards cards that I didn't know much about. Although I constantly receive email communications regarding these cards, I couldn't tell you what each card gives me in terms of value. When it comes to your organization's compensation and rewards programs, do your employees understand their value? Read on...

Why 2011 Promises to Be Positive (December 2010)

We always seem to be waiting for something. You might be waiting for your cell phone contract to end so you can get a new model, or maybe you are waiting for the prices on the new 3D TVs to come down. Read on...

How to Determine a Promotional Increase (November 2010)

Do you have a distant relative you don't think about very often? Or maybe one you don't see unless it's a major holiday, like Thanksgiving? I have a few of these relatives, the ones we wish we could fit more regularly into our busy lives... I was thinking how salary increases are like our relatives. Merit increases are the close relatives we see regularly. Unfortunately, promotional increases are the distant relatives, out of sight, out of mind. In fact, this may be the first, or the only, article you will ever read about promotions. Merit seems to get all the attention. Read on...

What Is Performance Ranking and Should I Consider It? (October 2010)

Imagine for a moment sitting in a dark room with shades drawn...no, you aren't about to watch the latest HBO movie or take a nap. You are still at work and not alone. You, and several managers in your organization, are preparing for your annual ranking meeting required by your organization's relative performance ranking process. The shades are drawn so employees don't walk by, peer in, and see their names on a projector screen. This month I explain relative performance ranking and discuss its blessing and curse. Read on...

Happy Holidays from TSG (September 2010)

Did you think this was an early holiday greeting? Well, then Happy Columbus Day! When's that? October 11th… Actually, this is an article for those responsible for setting their organization's 2011 holiday schedule, or for those wondering if their organization's holiday schedule is competitive. Read on...

How to Implement Geographic Pay (August 2010)

I received a phone call the other day from a Human Resources Manager desperate for help with pay in New England. Her corporate office is in Detroit, Michigan and she is trying to attract and retain engineers in Boston with salary ranges developed using salary data from Michigan. I like the Motor City just as much as anyone, but utilizing Detroit salary survey data for Beantown employees may not be the best approach to paying competitively. Read on...

Why You Need a Comp Department (July 2010)

Several times over the past year and a half members have asked me, "Do we really need a compensation department when we aren't delivering increases, paying out bonuses or hiring staff?" My short answer is absolutely, positively YES! Read on...