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Labour Complexity

How Salary Transparency Empowers Employees – And When Not To Use It

Many companies resist the idea of sharing employee salaries, but this information public could be the most empowering thing those companies have done.

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In a 2016 Glassdoor report, only 36 percent of employees surveyed worldwide said their companies were transparent about salary – but almost twice that number, 70 percent, agreed with the statement that open discussion of pay boosts employee satisfaction and overall business success.

In fact, social media company Buffer has proven the positive effect pay transparency can have on a company. When Buffer set up shop, its leaders decided to post all employee salaries on the company’s public blog.

Everyone – from the CEO to an entry-level worker – could see what his or her colleagues were taking home.

To many readers, this level of salary transparency may seem problematic, but in fact Buffer grew its staff from 10 to 65 employees in six years. Company officials say conflicts around salary are rare. When all employees can see how much worth the company places on any given role, no one wants to be called out for slacking off.

Another interesting point: A recent PayScale survey of more than 70,000 employees found that people surveyed said they were less likely to quit their jobs when they understood how their pay was determined. Even employees making below-market wages can be persuaded to stay when the reasons for the discrepancy are transparent.

Related: How To Structure A Fair Salary That Will Motivate Your Sales Team

In the PayScale survey, 82 percent of respondents reported being satisfied with their jobs once they understand why were being paid less than they might be at a different company.

Salary transparency is not for everyone

Salary transparency isn’t the best strategy for all companies: Some executives simply aren’t comfortable making pay information so public. This is often true with startups, which sometimes struggle to pay employees competitive salaries.

Many entrepreneurs, whether they’re connected to start-ups or long-time companies, work on a shoestring budget; so when funds are limited, they instead offer unique employee benefits.

In addition, salary transparency may be a bad idea because it can raise conflicts based on assumptions about finances, abilities and how much someone is doing at work. While one employee may take longer to complete a task than another employee, the output might be the same.

In these circumstances, making salary data public could create animosity.

The practice could also inadvertently punish your rock star employees. If they have to fix a problem created by someone who makes more money, they may feel undervalued.

The most important factor for entrepreneurs, then, is to keep the team focused on keeping the company’s doors open – because conflicts combined with a loss in productivity could lead to no pay cheques for anyone.

Related: 10 Questions to Ask When Setting Your Own Salary

How to instill confidence in employees in other ways

confidence-in-employees

While salary transparency is not always the best option for every startup, there are other ways to boost employees’ confidence in their pay rate. Here are three:

1. Salary ranges for each position

salary range offers a minimum and maximum pay rate for each role, as well as several mid-range rates. Such documents, listing companies’ pay figures based on market-pay studies, are often similar in describing employees with comparative responsibilities in a given region of the country.

And they can be reassuring to job-seekers: Because most job-seekers today conduct online salary research, salary ranges based on regional and market factors assure them they’ll be compensated appropriately.

My own business takes a salary-range approach and offers percentage-based bonus structures to employees. This means that workers are compensated based on the percentage of tasks and projects completed within a specific time frame.

2. Project management software

Clear communication about tasks and responsibilities can streamline an organisation and keep employees informed about who is completing which tasks. Knowing that everyone is being productive helps employees see that, regardless of the numbers on a pay cheque, everyone is earning his or her keep.

Project management software can help entrepreneurs relay information to their teams efficiently and keep clients informed. Clearly laying out a company’s tasks and assigning them to the correct person can ensure that everything is distributed evenly and in an organised manner.

My team’s project management software allows us to see what’s on everyone’s plate so we know what everyone is working on – and who’s not producing. We also assign time frames to each portion of a project. Once a project is marked “completed,” we know who worked on what across the project’s development.

Related: The Salary Dilemma: Should You Be Open About Employee Pay?

3. One-on-one meetings

Nothing beats an in-person one-on-one meeting, especially with so many of us communicating digitally. Face-to-face meetings help build strong relationships with employees and show individuals they’re valuable to the company.

I’ve always had an open-door policy, but I found that employees sometimes feel uncomfortable interrupting me during the workday. So, I started hosting regular one-on-one meetings with everyone, allowing me to get to know each person and gauge his or her individual satisfaction levels.

These discussions often naturally drift to the topic of compensation because of our bonus structure. And here, I want everyone to feel rewarded for putting in effort, just as  I want everyone to have the opportunity to correct or self-evaluate when there’s an obvious lack of productivity.

Overall, the most important thing entrepreneurs can do for their companies is show employees how much their contributions are valued. This is particularly vital in the early stages. That’s why instilling confidence in employees about what they’re being paid and why can be essential for attracting the best talent and keeping it around.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Daniel Wesley is a Florida-based entrepreneur whose degree is in nuclear medicine. His work has been featured in many distinguished publications, including Entrepreneur and Time magazine. He is currently the chief evangelist at Quote.com and writes for both Credit Loan and debtconsolidation.com.

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Labour Complexity

Charity Begins At Home This Festive Season

3 Ways to invest in your own employees.

Nation Builder

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We often only think of corporate social investment (CSI) as an organisation’s actions in the surrounding communities (philanthropy and volunteering), but CSI is also inward facing. By promoting employee well-being, your business can be a vehicle for change, not only in the society around it, but also directly in the lives of those working there.

Here are some ways you can invest in your own employees during the festive season:

1. Involve your employees in a higher purpose

This might sound like a bit of circular reasoning, but studies have shown that involving employees in CSI activities has several benefits. People involved in meaningful activities tend to be more motivated and willing to go that extra mile because of the higher good associated with the work. CSI programmes also:

  • Increase co-operative behaviour and employee relationships
  • Enhance the sense of company identity
  • Improve employee retention and commitment
  • Create an attractive company culture.

Related: What’s The Fuss About Corporate Social Investments?

2. Provide the space for physical and mental breaks

The end-of-year and festive period is often a very stressful period. Balancing festive and family duties with increased pressure at work due to colleagues taking leave, looming year-end targets and planning for the next year can take a toll.

You, as the employer, can ease this stress by ensuring that there are systems in place that define holiday working policies. Promote time and productivity management to plan workflows and keep the momentum going in these last weeks of the year. Also make sure you have effective communication strategies in place for plans that are in the pipeline for the new year, so that employees can get their heads around upcoming changes. This will allow employees to plan ahead and build in time to switch off, knowing that all of the boxes have been ticked.

3. Constructive feedback/motivation

Also, take the time to acknowledge and show appreciation for the hard work that your staff has put in throughout the year. As the saying goes “valued employees are valuable employees.”

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Company Posts

How Medical Savings Accounts Are Changing – For The Better

By Jeremy Yatt, Principal Officer of Fedhealth

Fedhealth

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The concept of medical savings accounts (MSA) emerged in the industry in the early 1990s, reputedly when Discovery founder Adrian Gore was working at Liberty. At that time medical scheme benefits for different kinds of day-to-day healthcare were specified, so for example, you’d get a certain amount of Rands to spend on your over-the-counter medicine, or for optometry services. But this was problematic, as people’s daily medical needs are all so different. So, you’d have medical aid members calling their medical schemes saying, “I haven’t used my spectacle limit this year, so can I transfer it to use on medication instead?”.

The idea for MSAs was to pool these separate benefits into a total Rand amount, that you could then spend how you wanted, and more importantly, retain if you didn’t use them all. Initially, medical schemes were reluctant to follow this idea, as they thought it would lead to under-servicing: medical aid members might be unwilling to spend their savings, and so might not get the proper day-to-day medical attention until it became a crisis and they were hospitalised. However this was not the case, and MSAs proved very popular.

At first, there was no real limit on how much of your contributions as a member could go into your MSA, so most schemes allocated around 40-50%. Many schemes also pushed major medical procedures like MRI scans into savings, which was effectively a way of forcing members to self-fund these costly medical expenses. As a result, the Medical Schemes Act was amended in 1998 to impose a 25% limit on the benefits that could be put into MSAs, which largely forced the schemes to be responsible for these major costs.

Related: Why Your Employees’ Health Is Your SME’s Wealth

Under the previous structure there was no disincentive not to use your benefits, particularly as they didn’t roll over from year to year like Medical Savings do. It was therefore not uncommon for a call centre to get queries from members asking how much was available in their different benefit areas, so that they could make sure they used them all up.

MSAs solved these sorts of problems by giving medical aid members increased convenience and autonomy, which is why schemes have been using them for the past 20+ years.

The concept of an MSA isn’t far removed from a loan. Like a loan, an MSA lets you use a sum of money when you want to, but you still have to pay for it regardless of whether you use it or not. It forms part of the registered gross contribution to the medical scheme. Take the example of a member who has R12 000 they can access in their MSA each year. Effectively they are paying for this “loan”, contributing R1000 a month, starting in January. However an MSA means they can use all of that R12 000 upfront, such as if they need expensive dental treatment (crowns etc.) at the start of February that costs R12 000.

In this situation, the member has only paid for R1000 worth of that R12 000 “loan” (with their January contribution), so they effectively “owe” the medical scheme R11 000, which they then pay off over the remainder of the year. If the member left the scheme straight after their dental work, the scheme would then contact the member to repay the R11 000, as they still owe that amount.

Related: Is There A Link Between Physical And Financial Wellness?

The concept of giving members access to medical financing led us to develop our new MediVault offering for day-to-day medical expenses. Describing it as a loan holds negative connotations for some, but it’s not that different from the concept of an MSA: in fact, we see the MediVault as a natural evolution. All it means is that you won’t need to pay for day-to-day savings upfront. Instead, you’ll be allocated money for these everyday medical expenses in your personal MediVault and, once you’ve taken the money out, you only have to pay it back over a period of 12 months – completely interest-free. This is a far better option than taking out an expensive loan from a traditional loan company, or getting it from an unscrupulous loan shark.

Our MediVault offering is not at all about loaning funds to people irresponsibly. We’re not creating a monster that’s going to indebt you – we’re just changing the way you can access funds for your healthcare. After all, health is everyone’s most worthwhile investment, and we want to give people the flexibility to make it their top priority.

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Labour Complexity

Year-End Reviews Are Not Always A Positive Experience

This is largely due to parties entering into it without proper preparations, thinking that it can be done in one meeting.

Adri Dörnbrack

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Performance reviews are similar to entering a race. It’s all about race day, but what you put in before the event (the discipline to wake up and train, the commitment to push yourself and stick to your training plan) is what makes race day either a great positive journey or a terrible experience. The same principle applies to performance reviews. It should not be a once-a-year meeting. It should be part of the monthly job description for both the manager and employee to be able to compare, adjust and review on an ongoing basis. Then, once a year, all the insights gathered during the year should be reviewed to plan for the next year. 

Performance excellence reviews contribute to the culture of a company

We always say that attitude determines outputs or achievements. Personal attitudes, and the character of the business, is the culture. A great culture will lead to great achievements.

Performance excellence reviews are the tool we use to compare, adjust and shape what we want to achieve and then benchmark to know if it has been achieved. 

Employee performance reveals a lot about the business’ achievements. A business is great when it is profitable, cares about and looks after their people, and contributes towards the wellbeing of society and/or the planet. It is all about performance. What you put in is what you get out. And this is what we need to understand. 

Related: How to Set Up Employee Assessments

Performance excellence reviews can be a positive experience

Know the individual and their needs. There are really no one size fits all generic option.

There are however a few general good practices :

  • Managers should firstly understand the value that performance excellence reviews contribute towards overall achievements.
  • When the manager is positive about the reviews and the value it adds, automatically the employees follow.
  • On a monthly basis, review the employee’s feedback relating to the progress of the functions / tasks.
  • Be understanding as a manager – not all functions might haven been able to be completed due to job changes or the complexity of a growing job function.
  • As employee, understand that a manager is employed to manage the performance of the team, the department and the business. This entails understanding the employees’ performance.
  • New employees need to be reviewed more frequently eg. Bi weekly. When the employee has found their feet, review monthly or bi monthly.
  • Do not review performance once a year only. Review frequently, and once a year have a focused meeting around performance to discuss what was achieved during the last 12 months.
  • Managers should be responsible, and held accountable, to get all staff to complete their reviews (monthly, quarterly etc). It is the managers responsibility and it should be one of their functions.
  • Employees should know that performance reviews are simply there to understand the job, and help to align the job and the person’s talents to get the best outputs. It’s about continuously striving towards efficiency and effectiveness.
  • As a manager: Communicate progress feedback and offer assistance.
  • Be consistent. Review frequently.
  • Celebrate achievements.

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