This post was originally posted on Michelle Berg’s LinkedIn feed on June 17, 2022. It’s been updated today with more information.
Compensation conversations have never been so difficult as they are right now. During normal inflation periods, we normally see cut-backs, lay-offs and hiring freezes. But up until June, we were seeing salaries being paid at records heights, with flexibility and autonomy being part of the compensation package. Of course, all of this hype was for those roles that were built for Work-From-Home.
Then we started seeing the major decline in the stock market, which had tech companies follow suit on lay offs and cut backs. It hasn’t necessarily hit the west coast in the same way it’s hit the east coast and the US, but we always seem to be slightly behind.
But here’s the crazy part – what about those roles that CAN’T work from home. What are they doing? Well – we’re seeing a completely different story (and one that we are watching but are careful on having an opinion on!)
Our recommendation – which is easier said than done, is, don’t panic.
1.) Get transparent about your pay – demonstrate how you came to your conclusions in the first place, make sure you’ve done an analysis on your pay, and if you can’t address pay today, acknowledge that along with a commitment to when you will. Salary data is typically based on slightly older data and won’t be able to tell you “today” what people have adjusted their salaries to. But if you weren’t at the 50th percentile 5 months ago, chances are you really aren’t there now. Do what you can.
2.) Messaging – this is extremely important and educating your supervisors and managers on how compensation works in your company, supports alignment (and a better employee experience. Remember: inflation and salary increases are not the same. We actually see the biggest increases in low inflation years as there is more opportunity for spending. But again, even if the answer is “We aren’t addressing it right now”, making compensation part of your regular conversations with staff is important. We recently started with three organizations, (over 50 people), and not one manager understood why or how their pay was constructed in the first place, and furthermore, felt like they got a question daily about pay. If your managers are left in the dark, the conversations will continue to happen below the surface and may drive a whole new level of conversation supporting toxicity and disengagement.
3.) Get creative – this is about balancing short-term and long-term growth, and there is no magic formula. Even oil and gas (in their messaging anyway) seems to get it. Now is not the time for crazy spending. It’s about balancing needs and shareholder value. We’ve had one client decide to implement a daily transportation allowance for their retail staff, which, upon exceeding daily sales quotas, a bonus for transportation is given. It’s not a lot, but it’s recognizing that it costs more to get to work today than it did 6 months ago. While inflation drove the idea, it’s now also driving performance. It’s team-based, so not competitive other than they work together to hit their numbers. At first, the client was worried: If he puts it in now, can he take it away. I asked, “Does it matter if you’re exceeding your sales targets? Why not increase the sales targets once you’ve proven it works to work together as a team?”
Bottom line though? #Transparency. It honestly makes compensation conversations SO much easier.