ERC Announces New International HR Resources for Members

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In 2012, ERC surveyed our members on their need for International HR resources and support. Due to our members’ growth of international operations and questions about how to manage employees outside the U.S., ERC is excited to announce the addition of several new global HR resources available to ERC members through our HR Help Desk. 

Supported by tools and resources including the BNA International HR Support Network, the Mercer International Geographic Salary Differential report, and Mercer Global Pay Summary Survey, ERC members can now receive guidance on questions regarding HR policies and practices in other countries, compensation data, employment law, and managing global employees or assignments. 

If you have an International HR question, contact our HR Help Desk at 440/947-1278 or hrhelp@yourerc.com.

7 Common Compensation Questions

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7 Common Compensation Questions

Types of sources to use, frequency of market studies, handling employee questions about fairness, etc.—these are just a few of many compensation issues and questions that you face every day. We've compiled answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we receive related to compensation.

1. What sources do most employers use to benchmark compensation?

Most employers use more than one salary data source to make compensation decisions.

Common choices of salary data sources include Mercer, Willis Towers Watson, Kenexa, CompAnalyst, ERI, and Aon Hewitt.

Local, state, and industry-specific surveys are also used, particularly in organizations with fewer than 200 employees.

2. How frequently should we be formally reviewing compensation?

The best practice is at least every two years; however, if your organization has made a number of changes to jobs, has fallen behind on benchmarking pay in the past few years, is competing for hard-to-find talent, or is focused on retaining above average talent, then it may consider benchmarking compensation more frequently.

In these cases, we suggest an annual review. Although you may only formally review compensation every other year, it's important to at least stay abreast of the latest compensation trends each year and review key positions.

You need to make sure that your key players' pay is in line with the market at all times.

3. What's the future outlook for compensation?

Salary increase budgets in the U.S. are expected to remain at about 3%, consistent with many past years. 

However, the rate of pay acceleration has in the market has increased dramatically which makes the need to watch for market related changes in pay that much more important. 

4. How do the rising costs of benefits play into compensation decisions?

Some employers have questions about how the rising costs of health care and other benefits play into decisions about compensation. Benefits and health care costs have become a larger component of the total compensation package offered to employees, so it's more important than ever before that employers are looking at total compensation in addition to base pay in order to make appropriate pay decisions.

There's also no question that rising benefits costs and uncertainty about the Affordable Health Care Act will likely be a consideration in overall costs. 

That's why it's important to review benefits and pay data annually to make sure you're in line with the market on both. This will provide you more insight on what changes you need to make in terms of cost-sharing, benefits contributions, and pay increases.

5. How should I evaluate compensation data?

Things to look for when evaluating compensation survey data:

  1. First, you will want to make certain you utilize credible, employer reported data from robust and reliable sources.
  2. Second, you'll want to research who participated in the survey and what geographic region the survey represents.
  3. Third, make sure you also know when the salary survey data is effective so that you make appropriate aging adjustments to ensure that you are comparing data according to consistent time periods.
  4. Fourth, look at participation in the survey, specifically the number of employers participating for each breakout reported.

Breakouts which have statistically significant participation are more reliable than breakouts with limited reporting.  That's why you may see less reliable salary trends in positions that have less participation.

6. What should we do if we find that pay isn't in line with the market?

Nothing or something—it all depends on your compensation philosophy, what the position is, which employee is in the position, and your ability to make the change.

If the employee is a solid performer, your philosophy is to pay at or above market, and the position is valuable to your organization, you should consider a phased approach to adjusting an employee's pay to market-competitive levels.

If the employee is a bottom performer and their position isn't valued, sometimes it's okay to do nothing. As an employer, you don't have to make pay adjustments unless you feel they are warranted and worthwhile.

7. One of my employees thinks their pay is unfair, what should I do?

Employees often question the competitiveness and fairness of their compensation and how they are paid relative to employees in similar roles at other organizations. Let's just say that pay is never a workplace issue with which employees are most satisfied.

This often stems from lack of transparency with regard to compensation administration and the proliferation of unreliable, employee-reported pay data available online.

Here are things you can do to make sure employees are aware of the steps your organization takes to keep compensation competitive:

  • Do your homework. Conduct market studies to see how employees' pay stacks up to other organizations.
  • Create and communicate a compensation philosophy or policy about how your organization intends to pay employees relative to the market. Most importantly, make sure employees understand it.
  • Explain the salary survey sources you use to benchmark compensation.
  • Show employees how you pay them relative to the market, such as actual market or survey data.
  • Communicate the process by which your organization makes compensation decisions as transparently as possible. It will make the process seem less mysterious and secretive.
  • Provide total compensation or rewards statements. Employees often don't realize how much they are earning in benefits and other perks your organization provides and these figures usually surprise them.

It's important to note that even despite your organization's best efforts to be transparent, there will always be a number of employees who aren't satisfied with their pay.

This is natural and common and isn't anything to be concerned about provided your programs and administration are legally compliant and you are attracting and retaining top talent.

ERC offers compensation and benefits consulting services including market pricing, total rewards strategy, and more.

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Training Salaries on the Rise

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According to the 2012 EAA National Wage & Salary Survey, salaries for training professionals rose from 2011. In particular, the median salary for Training Specialist I showed the highest increase of 8% from 2011 when compared with other training jobs surveyed. Similarly, the median salary for Training Managers saw an above average increase of 5%.

The data reported in this survey seems consistent with other salary trends reported by the American Society of Training & Development (ASTD) indicating that compensation for training, learning, and development professionals' exceeds the average U.S. income of $46,000 and that the majority of learning and development professionals received a pay raise within the past year.

These trends could suggest increasing demand for training and development professionals nationwide as organizations  continue to expand their training practices and enhance their learning and development activities.

For more information about the 2012 EAA National Wage & Salary Survey or to purchase it, please click here.

The 8 Defining Qualities of Top Talent

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Over the years, ERC has researched what distinguishes a top performer from an average performer based on employers' perspectives. The results are strikingly consistent across industries and sizes. Regardless of the organization type, most employers define top performers very similarly and are looking for the same types of characteristics and behaviors in their employees.

What makes top talent different from average talent? Typically, these eight key qualities. 

1. They achieve results.

Top performers consistently achieve results and make positive contributions to their organizations. They "wow" customers, produce quality work, improve productivity, make good decisions, and model the right behaviors that lead to their success. They remain committed to excelling at their work despite challenges, and try different ideas and strategies to improve their results.

2. They're a go-to person.

Top performers are sought-after employees in the organization - not only because of their impressive knowledge and talents, but because they are easy to work with and dependable. They tend to be well-respected and valued by others in the organization for their abilities, insights, and perhaps creativity. They are often technical and functional experts that others can rely on to do the work well. They know their stuff and have a good reputation. They help other employees solve their problems.

3. They go above and beyond.

This is the classic differentiator of a top performer. Top talent do more than is expected and required in small and large ways. They seek opportunities to expand their responsibilities, challenge and develop themselves, and go above and beyond their jobs and to meet others' needs - including those of their coworkers and customers. They also typically perform above goals and standards.

4. They take initiative.

Top performers don't wait for someone to tell them to do a task. They begin new assignments before they are told, look for work to fill spare time, explore ways to solve problems or challenges, see new opportunities, volunteer for extra tasks, and can work well with little supervision.  They anticipate what needs to be done and make suggestions for how to add value, do things better, and work more efficiently. They act like a leader even when it may not be their job.

5. They're self-motivated.

Top performers usually don't need to be motivated in order to get the job done and done well. Their motivation is self-driven. They know their passions, interests, and priorities and pursue work that aligns with those. They typically have a purpose, set their goals high, and are persistent in reaching them. Their self-motivation fuels lifelong learning and development. They don't need to be told to develop skills because they usually are already taking steps to make themselves more valuable to the organization.

6. They think big-picture.

Unlike average performers, you can count on top performers to "get it." They strive to understand the organization's direction and goals and think beyond their immediate job. They may suggest enhancements to other areas of the organization, help coworkers or other departments, and align their personal objectives and priorities with those of the organization. They display an interest in helping the organization move forward and ask for opportunities to impact the organization.

7. They are a team player.

Top performers get along with others. They are able to collaborate with their colleagues and are cooperative with the needs of their team and organization, showing adaptability and flexibility to change and openness to others' views. They care about and are willing to pitch in and help their colleagues. They can balance both team and individual priorities. Top performers cultivate positive relationships with coworkers and customers, actively participate, communicate constructively, and are consistent and reliable.

8. They have integrity.

Great performers have integrity, and as a result, can be trusted by their peers and superiors. They can be counted on to exhibit the highest degree of ethics and honesty. They communicate and act with sincerity and dependability, saying what they mean and meaning what they say and doing what they say they will do. People consider them to be genuine individuals with the right motives.

If you're trying to achieve great things at your organization, it's critically important to hire and keep top performers with these qualities. Once you have the right people on the bus, you'll find that your organization spends less time managing performance and more time enabling it, less time disciplining and more time developing, and less time creating and enforcing policies and more time building a culture that attracts and keeps the best people.

Additional Resources

NorthCoast 99
NorthCoast 99 is an annual recognition program that honors 99 great workplaces for top talent in Northeast Ohio. If your organization is interested in being recognized as a best place to work in 2012 and thinks it excels at attracting and retaining top performers, please click here to begin your application today and join us for a free informative program to kick off this year's application process. 

Benchmark Reports
Interested in targeted metrics for top performers and benchmarking how your organization's practices for attracting and retaining top talent compare to others in the region? Please take a look at our benchmark reports which provide tons of information on great workplaces and top performers.

Staffing & Recruitment Services
Looking for better ways to source and select top talent and help finding exceptional performers? Consider using ERC's consulting and assessment services. Additionally, our network of Preferred Partners provides several discounts and cost savings on staffing and recruitment services that can help your organization save money.

Healthy Employees: Staying "Heart Healthy"

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By Ron Todaro, RN, COHN-S

Cardiovascular diseases are conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), and stroke. Some of these conditions, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, have no obvious symptoms, but some may have symptoms such as pain, confusion, swelling, or shortness of breath. It's important to know your risk factors for these cardiovascular conditions and what you can do to avoid a diagnosis or manage an existing condition.

Heart Disease Prevention: Managing Your Modifiable Risk Factors

Treatment of heart disease can be difficult. That’s why it's better to try to prevent these health conditions, particularly in people with known cardiovascular disease risks. But how do you prevent heart disease? How do you maintain good heart health?

It may seem simple, but for the most part, lifestyle plays a huge role in keeping the heart healthy and reducing cardiovascular disease risks. Many of these suggestions are probably familiar to most people. They include:

  • Managing your stress levels
  • Eating fruits, vegetables, and foods low in fat and cholesterol — maintaining a mostly plant-based diet
  • Becoming active (at least 30 minutes per day) and either maintaining your current weight or losing weight if you are overweight.
  • Monitoring your blood pressure. If it’s high, get it under control following your doctor’s guidelines.
  • Screening your cholesterol and blood sugar levels. If your numbers have increased, you may be able to reverse the trend.
  • Following treatment guidelines if you have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes

Eat right, exercise, don’t smoke, and talk to your doctor about any health concerns you have or any symptoms you notice. The earlier heart problems are detected, the better the chance you can begin treatment before any long-term damage has occurred.

Survey Shows National Salary Trends for HR Jobs

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According to the 2012 EAA National Wage & Salary Survey, salaries rose modestly for HR professionals across the U.S. in 2011. The survey reports that HR Generalists showed the highest salary increase of 5% from 2011 and HR Assistants experienced the second highest salary increase of 4% from 2011.

Meanwhile, higher level HR professionals, such as Vice Presidents, Directors, and Managers showed more modest salary increases from 2011 of 1-2%.

The salaries for HR professionals reflected in this survey are consistent with other local and national compensation survey findings. In general, there has been less salary growth for many generalist-type HR functions in the years preceding 2012, as the data shows.  Nonetheless, national and local compensation surveys, including those conducted by ERC, continue to show that there has been more salary growth for specialist HR functions including compensation, training, organizational development, and staffing.

View ERC's Wage & Salary Adjustment Survey Results

The survey reports data from Northeast Ohio organizations regarding their actual and projected wage and salary adjustments.

View the Results

OSHA Summary Must be Posted By February 1

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As a reminder, OSHA rules require employers to post the OSHA 300 summary form of occupational injuries and illnesses occurring between January 1 and December 31, 2011 by no later than February 1. Employers, however, do not need to post the full log of workplace-related occupational injuries and illnesses.

Please note that the summary form needs to be completed even if no work-related injuries or illnesses were recorded and requires the certified signature of a company executive. Employers must keep the summary posted through April 30.

Employers can download these forms at the link below:
http://www.osha.gov/recordkeeping/RKforms.html

5 Myths About Workplace Communication

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5 Myths About Workplace Communication

Employers constantly find themselves battling communication issues between employees and managers in the workplace. These issues commonly stem from not understanding the basics of good communication, mistaking frequency for quality, and making inaccurate assumptions about how much information others want and need to know. Here are 5 myths about workplace communication that your organization should consider "debunking" to improve communication.

1. If your employees are talking to you frequently, you have good communication.

Regular one-on-one "catch up" meetings between your employees and supervisors do not guarantee that quality communication is taking place. Despite these meetings, misunderstandings and communication breakdowns can still happen. Frequency of communication, while important, has little to do with how effective the communication between your supervisors and employees actually is. Focus instead of what is actually being discussed in those meetings and how it's being said.

2. Line employees are the main reason that communication suffers in the workplace.

Sometimes...but not usually. Effective communication is important at all levels of the organization, but is most important and more commonly expected at the manager level. After all, managers spend the majority of their time communicating with all levels of the organization, including other departments, employees, managers, and leaders. Their job is to make sure people have the information they need to do their jobs well and that they have the information necessary to manage their departments and employees. This involves sharing lots of information and asking lots of questions. As a result, when there is a communication problem, it usually falls on the manager.

3. An open-door policy is enough to encourage employees to share their concerns and ideas.

If you think that your organization's open-door policy is enough to encourage employees' sharing of opinions, ideas, and concerns, you're probably placing too much faith in your policy. Simply saying that your organization has an open-door policy does not necessarily ensure that employees will actually take advantage of this policy and voice their concerns to management. You will probably need to make more proactive attempts to gather employees' ideas and encourage their input if you value two-way communication with your staff.

4. Employees aren't interested in, privy to, or already know information.

This may be true for some of your employees, but not of all of them. Many employees desire more information about the organization and what it's trying to achieve, and your organization has a responsibility to share it with them. When employees are treated as partners in the business and given access to sensitive information, they are more likely to engage in their work and create greater value for your business. Additionally, never assume that employees already know something that is important for them to do their job. A good deal of communication problems result from assuming that people already know information they actually don't know.

5. Information is the foundation of good workplace communication.

Information is important, but trust and communication skills are the true foundations of good communication in the workplace, and both need to be developed over time. Trust is also one of the major reasons communication fails in the workplace. When departments don't trust other departments, employees don't trust their managers, and leaders don't trust employees, information gets withheld, decisions are made without consulting others, conflicts emerge, and everyone starts choosing their words less wisely and thoughtfully. Similarly, communication skills need to be built and fostered among all levels of your employees, and especially your managers, through training, coaching, and practice.

Communication issues affect every organization, but "debunking" common myths and assumptions about communication can be a good first step to improve communication in your organization and especially between your managers and employees.

Additional Resources

Supervisory Series
In this series, participants will gain an understanding of how to communicate effectively with others in the workplace, in addition to dealing with everyday challenges of being a supervisor, resolving workplace conflict, and managing performance and coaching. This series is offered in AM sessions and PM sessions and begins February 7th.

Communication & Interpersonal Skills TrainingERC specializes in communication, interpersonal, and soft-skills training for all levels of the organization. Click here to view the many training courses we offer. These courses can also be customized to meet the needs of your organization.  For more information, please contact ckutsko@yourerc.com.

Communication Skills Training

Compliance and Tracking are Key FMLA Challenges

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According to the 2012 ERC/CareWorks FMLA Practices Survey, Northeast Ohio employers face numerous challenges associated with administering employee leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The survey cites that the biggest challenges employers face when administering leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) are tracking leave, determining the overall costs associated with FMLA absences, and overall legal compliance. Determining what constitutes a serious health condition and meeting paperwork deadlines designated by the Department of Labor (DOL) were also cited as challenges, but were less common.

Additionally, 56% of respondents said they believe they are capturing all situations at their organization which should be designated as FMLA, further suggesting that several employers are experiencing challenges with tracking and administering the law.

"Employers spend a significant amount of time administering FMLA, but continue to struggle with compliance.  Every step of the FMLA administration process requires a substantial amount of detail, so an employer needs someone who is highly trained on the FMLA regulations and can stay on top of each claim on a daily basis," says Holly Moyer, Senior Disability Management Consultant at CareWorks. Holly adds, "The legal exposure for FMLA is on the rise, therefore it is critical for employers to have a well governed FMLA Administration program in place that focuses on compliance and consistent claim handling."

To download the full results of the survey, please click here. Or, to learn more about CareWorks and the services they can provide for ERC members as a Preferred Partner, please click here.

ERC Preferred Partner CareWorks provides Absence Management and FMLA Administration. ERC Members save 5% off per EE per month fee or a $500 discount off Initial Set-up Fee

Affirmative Action Planning Reminder

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Affirmative Action Plans (AAPs) are required of federal contractors annually if they have over 50 employees and have a federal contract of $50K or more.  AAPs can be complex and tedious. Many employers find that outsourcing their annual AAP is time saving and reduces a heck of a lot of headaches. If you are interested in outsourcing your AAP work, give ERC a call at 440-947-1278 or email us at hrhelp@yourerc.com.