Organizations are beginning to recognize that the key to attracting and retaining top talent hinges heavily on a strategic, fair, and competitive salary scale. Yet, tailoring this structure to your unique needs can be complex.

Do you have the tools to properly analyze labor market data? Can your human resources (HR) team maintain the salary scale annually, in addition to addressing other responsibilities? Is there a way to design and update your salary scale more efficiently? This is where outsourcing is necessary.

Outsourcing the design and maintenance of your salary scale unburdens you and your HR team from this intricate task, allowing you to focus on your core business operations. Handing this responsibility over to more experienced professionals does not only save time; it ensures that your salary scale aligns with your strategic goals, global policies, market trends, and industry standards.

This article discusses why organizations should consider outsourcing the design and maintenance of their salary scale. We will explore how this pragmatic move can help you, from gaining expert advice to ensuring market alignment. If you’ve been second-guessing whether you need to outsource your salary scale design, our insights might be what you need to make an informed decision.

Your salary scale is the single most important document in HR. The structure determines how much an employee will be paid based on their role, their value for experience at each grade level, and the difference between one grade level to the next. It tells your stakeholders everything they need to know about your organization, including:

  • How you position yourself in the market
  • What value you place on your jobs
  • How you manage relationships across jobs
  • What are the possible career progressions
  • Where you stand on equity and transparency

A well-balanced salary scale is crucial for your people to work efficiently and achieve team cohesion. Your salary scale drives all other HR programs, including recruitment, staff retention, promotion, and career development.

Designing the scale is not only about deciding how much to pay an employee or listing pay grades. It is driven by building a fair and equitable compensation structure that shows how you attract and retain talent, as well as motivate staff. It involves balancing internal considerations and team dynamics with the external market.

However, designing and updating your salary scale requires a deep understanding of your business strategy, a thorough knowledge of the labor market, and keen insight into the motivations and expectations of staff. These tasks demand a high level of skill, expertise, and experience.

A well-designed salary scale establishes a framework for determining staff compensation and sets the standard for pay equity within your organization. It also helps ensure employees are rewarded fairly, boosting morale and motivation.

Your salary scale also serves as a roadmap for career progression, giving staff a clear idea of what they can expect as they advance. This transparency can help foster trust and loyalty among staff, leading to increased job satisfaction and lower turnover rates.

Further, a well-designed and updated salary scale can help your organization attract and retain top talent. By offering competitive salaries in line with market rates, you can position your organization as an employer of choice.

Designing a salary scale is not without its challenges, though. One of the fundamental issues is determining the appropriate pay range for each grade level within your organization. This requires a thorough understanding of the job market and the ability to assess the value of each level accurately, carefully balancing your organization’s workforce needs and overall budget.

Another challenge is ensuring pay equity. This involves making sure employees are paid fairly for their work. Achieving pay equity can be complicated, especially in large organizations with a diverse workforce across labor markets.

Keeping the salary scale up to date is also a concern. The job market constantly evolves, and the value of specific roles can change rapidly. The salary scale must be updated every year to reflect market trends.

Outsourcing the design of your salary scale offers several advantages:

  1. First, it frees up valuable time and resources. Designing a salary scale requires a significant amount of time and expertise. By outsourcing this task, your HR team can focus on other vital projects, such as employee engagement and talent development.
  2. Second, outsourcing gives you access to expert knowledge and insights. An HR consultancy firm like Birches Group has a deeper understanding of labor markets across continents. Additionally, firms such as ours can share accurate and timely information about salary trends and benchmarks.
  3. Finally, outsourcing ensures fairness and objectivity. An external firm can design a salary scale free of internal biases or conflicts of interest.

To illustrate the benefits of outsourcing your salary scale design and maintenance, let’s consider the case of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF), a nonprofit organization supporting activities in 19 countries. EGPAF had a centralized salary system but needed to ensure its salary scales kept up with the market, especially in Africa.

EGPAF tapped us to design its salary scale over several years. Doing so refined the nonprofit’s salary scales with a view closer to the local setting. We then looked at each African location, improving EGPAF’s pay structures and systems based on our NGO Surveys. Based on their budget, we developed three different salary scale options for each country.

As a result, EGPAF can now:

  • Name which comparators are relevant to them based on consistent comparator criteria developed for their salary scale review, and which scale design approach best addressed its internal compensation issues, all while staying within budget.
  • Get a more precise snapshot of the labor market through our salary survey data.
  • Anticipate and be better equipped when sudden changes in the market occur.

This case illustrates the significant benefits that can be gained from outsourcing your salary scale design.

Creating and maintaining a salary scale is a technical and creative process best left to specialists. If you’re considering developing or updating your organization’s salary scale, we at Birches Group are here to help. With our team of experienced professionals, we can provide salary scale options tailored to your needs.

We have extensive expertise in adapting or creating salary structures through our work with many clients from the public and private sectors. We believe proper salary scale design must be tailored to your needs and culture, as well as your compensation philosophy, market position, and budget. A well-designed salary scale must also align with the local market and adhere to corporate policy and compensation goals.

If you’re ready to learn more about how we can design and maintain your salary scale, contact us today.

Carla is a part-time copywriter in our marketing team in Manila. Before shifting to freelance writing in 2020, she worked as a marketing and communications specialist at the offices of EY and Grant Thornton. She has written about HR and career development for Kalibrr. 

Follow us on our LinkedIn for more content on pay management and HR solutions.

A discourse is taking center stage in human resources (HR): equity. More than just a buzzword, ensuring equity in the workplace is now a concern across organizations, sparking conversations between HR professionals and business leaders.

But equity is more than just fairness. Equity ensures every employee has equal access to opportunities, resources, and fair treatment. In an era where diversity and inclusion have become the core of corporate values, equity is impossible to ignore. Integrating equity into your organization’s HR strategies is crucial to cultivating employee satisfaction and success.

Additionally, it’s important to distinguish between equity and equality. While equality involves providing the same resources to everyone, equity acknowledges that individual circumstances vary and, as such, an organization should offer the necessary resources to achieve equal outcomes.

As organizations navigate an increasingly diverse and dynamic landscape, establishing a fair HR strategy goes beyond ethics and compliance.

This blog post will explore the hot topic of equity, its role in HR practices, and how HR can foster an environment where equity is a reality. Drawing from industry insights and proven systems, the blog article will help guide you toward cultivating a fairer and more equitable workplace.

What is equity?

As an HR professional, you have probably heard the term “equity” thrown around in your workplace. But what does it mean?

Equity is the fair treatment of access, opportunity, and advancement for all individuals. While the term is often associated with pay, equity acknowledges that every staff member has unique needs and circumstances.

Ensuring equity involves customizing resources and opportunities so that everyone has an equal chance of success. According to the Society for Human Resources Management, this includes “identifying and working to eliminate barriers to fair treatment for disadvantaged groups, from the team level through systemic changes in organizations and industries.” For example, providing added training to employees who lack specific skills can be an example of equity.

You might wonder why equity is significant and how it affects your organization. The truth is that equity is the backbone of any successful HR management strategy. Without it, your organization could face many challenges, including high turnover rates, low employee morale, and even legal issues.

How vital is equity in HR?

Equity in HR is more than a matter of ethics or compliance. It’s a strategic necessity. Employees who feel treated fairly are more likely to be engaged and productive. They are more likely to stay with your organization and contribute to its success.

A lack of equity, on the other hand, can lead to a toxic work culture. Employees who feel they are not treated fairly are more likely to be disengaged and unproductive. They are likelier to leave your organization, leading to high turnover rates and recruitment costs. Moreover, a lack of equity can also expose your organization to legal risks, as it could potentially violate anti-discrimination laws.

Another reason ensuring equity is vital in HR is that it helps attract and keep top talent. Job seekers are not just looking for a paycheck. They are looking for a workplace that values diversity and inclusion and treats all employees fairly. By ensuring equity, you can make your organization a more attractive place to work.

Ensuring equity in the organization is vital as the workplace constantly evolves. How can organizations support equity when their staff is dispersed across various locations, both locally and internationally? How do they ensure equal opportunities when most staff opt for remote work instead of coming to the office?

HR plays a crucial role in implementing policies and practices that promote fair treatment and challenge systemic bias. They must create an environment where every employee has a chance to succeed regardless of their background.

How do I build Equity into our HR strategy?

Building equity into your HR strategy may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some steps you can take to ensure equity in your organization:

Assess your current situation. Are there any areas where some employees are treated less favorably than others? Are there any policies or practices that could potentially discriminate against certain groups of employees? Thoroughly auditing your HR processes can help. Collect and analyze relevant data to identify any equity issues. Once you have identified these concerns, take action to address them.

Develop a clear policy on equity. Should individuals in the same job receive similar pay rates, regardless of their location in vastly different markets? Alternatively, should compensation be determined based on what the organization considers fair and competitive within the specific market where the employee is situated? Your policy should clearly articulate your organization’s dedication to equitable treatment for all employees, set up parameters for addressing and rectifying potential equity concerns, and emphasize the significance of communicating this policy to all employees while offering training in equity and diversity.

Implement fair HR practices. Promoting equity requires an integrated approach where every individual feels valued and heard. This involves creating an environment where diversity is celebrated and employees are given equal access to opportunities through unbiased recruitment processes, proper compensation structures, and inclusive workplace policies. Remember, the goal is not just to treat everyone the same but to give everyone an equal opportunity to succeed.

Communicate your targets and share your progress. Set clear, measurable goals for equity, and track your progress towards these goals. Be transparent about your progress and any challenges you are facing. Most importantly, set up transparent communication channels that allow for open dialogue about organizational decisions, fostering trust and empowerment among staff members.

Promote the importance of equity. Make sure that your organization’s leaders and staff are aware of the benefits of equity and why it is essential to success. Remember that equity is an ongoing commitment that requires continuous monitoring and improvement. By promoting an environment of fairness and respect, you can ensure that your people can thrive and contribute meaningfully to fulfilling the organization’s mission.

How Birches Group can help you ensure workplace equity

At Birches Group, we understand the importance of equity in HR. That’s why we’ve developed Community SkillsTM, a platform and tool that can help you ensure equity in your organization.

Community SkillsTM is designed to help assess your people’s skills and knowledge growth. It allows you to create a skills profile for each employee, which can aid in finding skills gaps and developing learning & development plans.

In addition, the platform offers benchmarks for various roles and functions to better ensure fair compensation for all employees. By using Community SkillsTM, you can ensure that all your employees are given an equal opportunity to grow and succeed.

Equity is a crucial factor in building a successful HR management strategy. It’s not just about treating everyone the same, but about giving everyone an equal opportunity to succeed. By understanding equity, recognizing its importance, and integrating it into your HR practices, you can create a workplace that is fair, inclusive, and conducive to success.

Contact Birches Group today to learn about our Community SkillsTM platform and request a demo.

Carla is a part-time copywriter in our marketing team in Manila. Before shifting to freelance writing in 2020, she worked as a marketing and communications specialist at the offices of EY and Grant Thornton. She has written about HR and career development for Kalibrr. 

Follow us on our LinkedIn for more content on pay management and HR solutions.

You probably finished 2022 with a performance evaluation round with a five-point performance rating system. To evaluate yourself, your supervisor, and your colleagues, you were probably given a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest rating.

I’ve worked with several employers, including at large firms and a nonprofit organization, and I’ve noticed that they follow the same approach to evaluating staff performance. To assess yourself, your supervisor, and your colleagues, you’re given a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest rating.

Most organizations use the traditional five-point performance rating system. But a five-point system carries with it a range of people management issues. Instead of motivating staff, it does the complete opposite. And the root cause is that employees want to receive a perfect rating of 5 out of 5. Anything less than that, even a 4, would be undesirable and be seen as a failure.

I’ve experienced this dilemma firsthand. When my work performance was rated a 4, I was disappointed. I couldn’t help but compare myself to my coworkers, who received higher ratings closer to a perfect 5. Looking back, this traditional five-point system for measuring performance is far from helpful for several reasons.

In this article, we’ll explore why a five-point performance rating system may be detrimental not just to people managers and human resources but to the organization. We’ll also share what your human resources department can do to address this all-too-common mistake.

Does striving for excellence work?

To achieve success and become a market leader, organizations ‘aim high’ in setting employee expectations and performance standards. The strategy: celebrate the few exemplary and high-performing staff members who will inspire others to do the same. Additionally, employees are encouraged to do exceptionally well at their job every time.

The consequences of such an approach are potentially disastrous, however.

What are the drawbacks of aiming for a perfect rating?

Many organizations believe that setting ‘exceed’ or 5 out of 5 as the gold standard for performance is the best way to meet their goals. But this can lead to undesired behaviors, as seen in the situations below.

Divide and conquer. Setting extraordinarily high expectations can lead to false confidence and optimism. If staff work hard to exceed expectations, there is a greater chance of being adamantly focused on their own goals than collective goals. This can lead to division and conflict as staff members try to reach lofty individual goals.

Expectations versus reality. Setting ‘exceed’ as the performance standard can also create unrealistic expectations. When staff members believe they can achieve incredible things, they may be disappointed when reality doesn’t meet their expectations. As a result, they become too critical of their work, always striving to improve, even when the work is satisfactory. Employees may feel they can’t succeed, leading to demoralization and frustration and harming team morale and productivity.

Under pressure. Doing one’s job well can sometimes be challenging, but it is even more problematic when it involves working under conditions that aren’t conducive to success. When the pressure is high, it is easy for performance to suffer.

Compare and contrast. Instead of working on their tasks and achieving their goals, employees may be more likely to focus on how they compare to others. And when comparing their work with that of their colleagues, staff may feel they need to do more. This can lead to resentment and conflict, and it can also damage morale.

Alienation. When managers reward only high-performing staff members, they may inadvertently harm employee engagement. Managers who target star employees may risk alienating others who feel they cannot meet expectations. This hurts employee engagement and affects the organization’s culture and vibe.

At a certain point, striving to excel and exceed expectations may become frustrating or demotivating. To avoid setting up your organization for failure and to keep staff accountable, consider shifting to a performance standard that is more realistic and meaningful to them.

What does Birches Group recommend?

Remember that people want to feel valued and that everyone in the organization matters. Setting the attainable goal of achieving targets and improving one’s skills and performance are better ways to motivate people.

In contrast to the traditional five-point performance rating system I’ve seen in several organizations, Birches Group uses a simpler, less problematic four-point system. At Birches Group, performance is measured on a four-point system—Fail, Needs Improvement, Achieve, and Exceed—where Achieve is the gold standard and Exceed is the highest and reflects exceptional work. What I appreciate about this more straightforward approach is that there is less pressure, politics, and alienation. Everyday achievers are held in high esteem. Most staff are achievers who deliver what is expected of them in a performance year. Through the Birches Group four-point rating system, the organization can celebrate the many ‘good’ or the many achievers while allowing the exceptional few to be rewarded accordingly. The fact that there are different kinds of performers—the good, the great, and the exceptional—is acknowledged.

Bottom line

Recognize only a few exemplary employees, and you could set up your organization for failure. If you want staff to remain productive, engaged, and empowered, celebrate the many achievers across your organization and aim for progress. Doing so will also help your people stay focused, deliver results, and ultimately help them feel that they matter.

Contact us to learn more about Birches Group’s Community™ Performance and schedule your demo today.

Carla is a part-time copywriter in our marketing team in Manila. Before shifting to freelance writing in 2020, she worked as a marketing and communications specialist at the offices of EY and Grant Thornton. She has written about HR and career development for Kalibrr. 

Follow us on our LinkedIn for more content on pay management and HR solutions.

One of the critical functions of HR that significantly impacts an organization is recruitment. Hiring talent is a multi-faceted process with many steps. In the blog, we discuss the 4 biggest problems in recruitment and how to fix them. These steps begin with having clear job descriptions, sourcing qualified candidates, conducting job interviews, and setting the starting salary of new hires. All these steps, coupled with the lack of standards and the personal biases of the hiring panel, could be a minefield of challenges and potential pitfalls.

Areas where organizations often make recruitment mistakes include vague job descriptions focused on tasks and not effectively screening applicants based on a solid and objective framework. Without the proper structure and processes, an organization’s recruitment efforts can quickly go sideways. Instead of hiring a perfectly qualified incumbent based on their skill level, managers and recruiters typically settle for the most charismatic person who happens to apply. But how can they determine if that candidate meets the role’s requirements?

Recruiting new employees can be daunting, so organizations must ensure corporate standards when assessing talent. What if an organization’s approach to recruitment can be fairer and more transparent—with purpose-driven job descriptions, structured job interviews focusing on the candidate’s experience, a solid skills-based framework for assessing candidates, and a transparent and objective approach to setting starting pay?

This blog post will present some of the most pressing recruitment challenges faced by managers and panel interviewers—and helpful ways organizations can solve them. A hint: it’s about revamping the process.

Vague job descriptions

Job descriptions describe the purpose, scope, and impact of a job. It should be clear, concise, and, most importantly, detailed enough to provide a clear picture of why the role matters. It must describe the role’s various functions, its placement within the larger unit or team, and how it contributes to the mission.

Unfortunately, due to the lack of guidance and proper tools, managers often try to write job descriptions by creating a mile-long list of tasks.

There are several problems when job descriptions focus on a list of tasks or inputs:

  • First, a list of day-to-day tasks doesn’t demonstrate why the role is crucial to the organization. How can candidates genuinely understand what they’re applying for if they only see a list of what they need to accomplish at the end of the day or week?
  • Second, when job descriptions use inputs, this does not give the incumbent room for flexibility or creativity with their approach to work. The concept of input stems from the old days of ‘clocking in and out’ from the office every day and ensuring your manager sees you at the office to give the impression that one is working hard. But does being in the office and clocking in truly mean that work is getting done?
  • Finally, a checklist of tasks often uses vague language, such as ‘assist’ or ‘prepare,’that fails to describe the impact of the role. The use of vague language affects how the job is evaluated at the proper level and, subsequently, affects compensation, learning & development objectives, performance measures, and career milestones.

So, how can this be avoided? By writing purpose-driven job descriptions that focus on the what and why rather than the how or where. An effective job description has a clear mission statement at its core. It should describe to the candidate why the role is crucial and what it is expected to deliver.

Additionally, a targeted skills profile must be incorporated into the job description to guide the recruitment process. By indicating the desired skill level required for the job (whether Basic, Proficient, or Skilled), managers or the hiring panel can better identify qualified candidates that meet the level of expertise required for the role.

Little to no structure to job interviews

It’s not unusual for job candidates to feel they are being grilled during an interview. The hiring panel asks questions that gauge the knowledge and experience of applicants. What do they know about the organization? What are their strengths? Where are they in their career?

The problem is when interviewers only ask candidates why they want the job. When going through the typical job interview process—where interviewers often think of questions on the fly—they fail to let the candidate demonstrate their experiences reflecting the required skill level for the job.

In many job interviews, questions are not given much thought. The concern is getting through the countless resumes and long line of applicants to finally fill the vacancy. But what ends up happening is that candidates are often asked questions that have little or nothing to do with the job, ultimately leading to a bad hire.

How can organizations get around this? Interviewers must be armed with questions integrated into the job’s skills profile and following the development approach, which indicates how a skill level may be mastered.

Birches Group’s Community™ Skills Recruitment tool provides interviewers with questions linked to the selected skills profile—from Basic to Proficient to Skilled—using a competency-based model. The questions encourage the candidate to relate a real-life experience or event that illustrates their capacity to respond to a given situation.

With standardized interview questions for every skill stage at each grade level, interviews finally become job-based, structured, and consistent.

Lack of corporate standards for assessing candidates

In assessing candidates, managers or the hiring panel have never been provided standards they could use to objectively base their assessments. Often, they tend to fall back on the usual years of experience, personal preferences, and even gut feeling. Not having clear criteria for assessing candidates and instead relying on personal judgment or salary history usually lead to hiring mistakes.

Following the structured interview questions provided by our Community™ Skills Recruitment tool, an assessment can be made by scoring the candidate’s responses to the appropriate skill level for each question. Depending on the level of knowledge and experience the candidate demonstrates, the interviewer can select from either the Basic or Proficient stage. But when a candidate’s responses appear to reflect a depth of knowledge or highly refined experience, this can warrant the interviewer to select the Skilled stage on their scorecard.

Once the job interview is complete, a scoresheet with the progressions of questions and skills ratings is presented, guiding subsequent discussions on the candidate’s assessment.

A consistent set of questions linking the skill level to the job grade ensures a neutral assessment of each candidate’s qualifications without examining their salary history.

Lack of a fair and equitable approach to setting starting pay

Many organizations do not have a clear approach to determining fair and appropriate starting salaries beyond their hiring rates when setting starting pay. When there is a desperate need to fill a vacancy, managers often end up negotiating starting salaries beyond what the organization is prepared to offer. When starting salaries are determined on a case-to-case basis, the organization is left with staff paid at different rates despite having the same work and skill level. This opens managers and HR to problems like mismatched expectations, which can cause employee resentment.

Organizations need to ensure that their hiring practices are fair and equitable. If candidates are assessed based on their skill level, the same approach can be applied when setting starting pay. The Community™ Skills Recruitment tool provides a framework for managers to easily determine starting salaries based on the candidate’s confirmed skill level.

Organizations can array the salary range for each grade level against our five Community™ Skills stages. When setting starting pay for a successful candidate, our Community™ Skills Recruitment tool automatically calculates the appropriate starting salary based on the candidate’s skills scorecard during their job interview.

When the skills profile is integrated into designing the job, structuring the interview questions, assessing candidates, and determining starting pay, organizations now have a consistent, fair, and equitable approach to the recruitment process. Biases, particularly age, gender, and race, no longer become a factor, while experience can be assessed more accurately.

A final note

Organizations face many issues when it comes to screening and hiring candidates. The most frustrating is not knowing what the applicants are truly capable of. To avoid the four problems earlier discussed, organizations must rework their approach to recruitment. They need to establish standards for assessing talent. Instead of looking at tenure, degree, or salary history, organizations must engage in skills-based recruitment that links back to the job level. By taking this approach, organizations can bring consistency, standards, and equity to one of the most unstructured but crucial HR functions.

Contact us to learn more about Birches Group’s Community™ Skills Recruitment tool and schedule your demo today.

Carla is a part-time copywriter in our marketing team in Manila. Before shifting to freelance writing in 2020, she worked as a marketing and communications specialist at the offices of EY and Grant Thornton. She has written about HR and career development for Kalibrr. 

Follow us on our LinkedIn for more content on pay management and HR solutions.

The labor market is constantly changing and evolving. It changes to reflect demands and pressures from different sectors, industries, and locations. New jobs emerge, old ones disappear, and wages fluctuate—sometimes due to external forces and local or regional economic factors. Organizations must stay on top of trends and monitor the labor market to remain competitive. Those that don’t keep up risk being left behind and failing to meet the needs of their people.  

One way for organizations to stay ahead is to monitor the labor market. Doing so helps human resources (HR) teams understand how their organization is affected by market movement. Reviewing and interpreting labor market data allows HR teams to address critical questions such as: 

  • How can we determine how much the market pays for similar roles? 
  • How can we competitively position ourselves against our target peers? 
  • How can we become an employer of choice in the local labor market? 

Keeping an eye on the labor market enables organizations to make informed decisions about hiring, pay management, employee benefits, retention strategies, and more.  

This blog post will explore why organizations should track the labor market and how to do so effectively. When the organization knows what is coming, it can plan and ensure it is well-positioned when the opportunity to grow strikes. 

Establishing market composition and position 

Using labor market data can help organizations clearly and consistently establish their competitive strategy, notably their: 

  • Target composition, or which group of employers are similar and more relevant to the organization. Consider organizations from the same sector, employers you lose your staff to, and organizations you often hire staff from.  
  • Target position, or how competitive an organization wants to be. Identify the ideal percentile (e.g., 50th, 75th) of the labor market the organization wishes to attract.  

Determining its target composition and position enables an organization to understand where it stands against key employers in the market. It also guides the organization on what it needs to do to lag, match, or stay ahead of relevant comparators. Organizations must consider their compensation policies and budget to establish their target composition and position. 

Setting benefits 

Labor market data also gives up-to-date insights into benefits widely provided in each country. In addition to salaries, benefits come in the form of cash (allowances and bonuses), in-kind benefits (company bus, gift baskets, company products, etc.), and non-salary benefits (retirement plans, healthcare coverage, family benefits, and leave provisions). 

As the organization reviews compensation and benefits surveys, it can easily identify mandatory, cultural, and market practice benefits, as well as benefits that address local hardships. And while salaries often attract key talent to an organization, benefits make up a significant part of the compensation package in developing markets. By providing the proper compensation and benefits, the organization can remain competitive and retain talent.  

Identifying HR gaps and making the necessary adjustments 

Identifying the gaps in HR practices is another way organizations can benefit from monitoring labor market information. Some of the few questions that organizations will want to address are: 

  • Do our hiring rates remain competitive? 
  • Are we able to retain the talent we need? 
  • Are our employee benefits competitive in the market? 

When the organization encounters talent management issues—such as challenges in attracting the right talent or holding on to staff—it may be time to make adjustments to the compensation package. 

If the organization is looking for data scientists—but hasn’t found suitable candidates—it may be time to rethink the starting salaries to ensure they are comparable to other organizations hiring for a similar job. Or perhaps the organization starts to lose staff after some time. It may need to reassess policies on pay movement, benefits packages, or career advancement to entice staff to stay longer.  

Understanding the impact of the data

Organizations need to go beyond the labor market data. They must understand how changing HR policies and practices in reaction to emerging trends, shifts, and volatility affects staff. So, the question that needs to be addressed is: Do the organization’s policies and initiatives reflect labor market changes and demands? 

A recent example would be the shift from working at a traditional office to working remotely or in a hybrid format. After years of being accustomed to working from home (in response to the COVID-19 pandemic), employees now expect flexible work arrangements—so much that they are willing to leave the organization if it does not offer the option. 

Another example is managing dispersed teams. With many employees now preferring to relocate to places that are sometimes far from the office, how will adjustments to compensation and benefits affect staff based in different areas? Should organizations still base salaries on city rates or adjust them based on where the staff chooses to relocate?

Thus, organizations need to use labor market data and its implications to help inform their policies. Other key questions that organizations need to answer when looking at labor market data include: 

  • Is our compensation program reaching the talent we need? 
  • How can we maintain our relevance in the labor market? 
  • Are there opportunities for improvement? 
  • Will changing our policies and practices help or hurt us? 
  • What are the implications of these changes on staff? 

Managing compensation even through uncertainty 

Now more than ever, organizations need to closely monitor the market. With inflation rising in countries across the globe, employees need to know that their employer has a plan to help them get through turbulent times.  

Organizations can best manage economic turmoil by monitoring the labor market coupled with a special measures policy. When volatility happens, chances are employees are going to ask HR how the organization will help their families manage their day-to-day expenses. When market conditions warrant adjustments to compensation, this is easily defensible when you have the market data to support it.   

When unpredictable events such as economic volatility, natural calamities, armed conflict, and periods of unrest affect the regular dynamics of the labor market, organizations must keep participating and monitoring labor market movement. By doing so, the organization can determine proper triggers, based on data, that would justify changes to compensation and benefits, as well as the frequency to which adjustments are made.  

Bottom line: Know where you stand 

The labor market continues to shift. It may be difficult for organizations to keep up as the market relies on changes from other sectors of the economy and events from around the world. As such, it is critical to keep track of the ever-changing landscape. This ensures that organizations adapt and adjust policies and measures to meet new demands, positioning themselves for success.  

To do this, organizations need up-to-date data about the labor market to know what conditions are like in their area. Tracking the labor market through salary surveys can offer helpful insight into emerging trends that could impact the organization. Monitoring will help employers understand current conditions to make informed decisions about jobs, the market, and skills and performance. In the end, keeping one’s eyes on the labor market helps organizations stay competitive.  

Does your organization need labor market data, especially on developing markets? We at Birches Group offer the most comprehensive salary survey coverage, with data on over 150 countries. We survey markets of varying sizes and focus on leading employers that set trends. Get in touch with our consultants to get started. 

Carla is a part-time copywriter in our marketing team in Manila. Before shifting to freelance writing in 2020, she worked as a marketing and communications specialist at the offices of EY and Grant Thornton. She has written about HR and career development for Kalibrr. 

Follow us on our LinkedIn for more content on pay management and HR solutions.

Establishing fairness in pay involves careful and thoughtful decision-making that is not as straightforward as simply assigning the same salary to all employees in the same position. Staff development is never uniform. Employees develop at different paces, with some gaining skills and experience around specific areas of the job faster than others. To ensure fairness and equity through pay, employers need to carefully assess the unique skills and knowledge of each employee, while providing clarity in approach.

Clarity in Pay Through Transparency

Historically, disclosing one’s salary has always been considered private and taboo. Salaries have always been an emotional and sensitive subject, as it is typically associated with one’s value to the company.  According to this LinkedIn article, one of the reasons for keeping wages and salary ranges private is that companies want to keep the status quo. They are afraid to upset employees which can inevitably happen when pay gaps in the organization are exposed. But the reality is that every organization will have pay gaps, and a major step in eliminating those gaps is through transparency.

In recent years, both lawmakers and leading companies have been addressing gender and race-related pay gaps through laws and compensation policies. In 2006, Denmark introduced legislation that required companies to disclose wage statistics between men and women with the same job if the company has more than 10 men and women working in the same position. In this study done by Professor Morten Bennedsen from the Economic Institute at the University of Copenhagen and INSEAD Business School in France, the law appears to have decreased the pay gap between men and women by 13%. In Canada, public sector employers are required to disclose salaries and benefits of employees that are paid $100,000 or more in a year which led to a 30% drop in the gender pay gap according to a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research .

In Birches Group, we too, believe and practice transparency in pay which is demonstrated through a couple of ways. First, the company’s salary scale is published to all staff. All employees are allowed to see the salary ranges not only for their grade level, but also others. Simply making our salary scale public allows everyone in the organization to see predictable movement within each grade level, the difference between one grade level to the next, and possible career progression for each role.

Second, our compensation policies on setting pay, variable pay movement, and milestones to determine promotion readiness are made clear as part of the company’s onboarding process and refresher trainings are regularly provided to all staff. When organizations make it clear how employees are paid and how they can chart their careers, staff feel more empowered to take equal ownership of the level and pace of their development, positively contributing to employee retention, while holding the organization accountable to provide clarity to their employees on how they are assessed and recognized.

Fairness and Equity in Pay by Measuring Staff’s Skills & Knowledge

Managing pay increases has always been a complicated process. People want to be paid according on their level of experience, but traditional approaches have never allowed managers to clearly measure experience apart from time (through time-based “steps” in the salary scale) or performance (through merit pay).

Using time-based steps or increments was never effective in recognizing one’s experience. As long as an employee completes another year with their employer, they get one or two steps in their pay regardless of whether they do their job or not. Merit pay, on the other hand, allows for variable pay movement based on the employee’s performance ratings from the preceding year. While this approach was designed to award pay increases to employees with good outputs and results, using performance ratings is not reliable because it doesn’t guarantee the same results the following year. When performance is used to drive pay increases, the organization is essentially rewarding an employee’s one-time achievement with a salary increase forever.

To truly establish equity in the workplace, we at Birches Group, believe pay movement should be based on the level of skills and knowledge the employee brings to the company. Over time, as an employee acquires and demonstrates new levels of skills and knowledge, their capacity to perform their job becomes better, making it a more effective and objective way to drive pay increases.

A big challenge to employers has always been how to measure one’s experience – “How do I know, what you know?” Birches Group has come up with a framework and an assessment tool that can explicitly measure your employees’ skills and knowledge. Using our Community™ Jobs approach as the underlying foundation, Community™ Skills consists of a progression of five skills stages across six indicators which is used to measure the continuous growth of an employee within their job.

Through Community™ Skills, pay management policies can be developed and aligned to use skills and knowledge growth to drive variable pay movement. Community™ Skills can also be used to demonstrate equity and fairness through deliberate developmental assignments for staff, as well as providing an objective criterion for succession planning and promotion decisions.

Pay equity and transparency in the workplace doesn’t happen overnight. Companies must take active steps to ensure clarity around pay management policies, as well as standards on how employees are assessed and developed. Birches Group has extensive experience developing compensation policies for organizations across different sectors and markets. Our Community™ Skills tool can help organizations assess the capacities in their workforce, facilitate pay movement, as well as guide learning and development assignments. Contact us to learn how we can improve your talent management programs today.

Kai works in our Marketing Team in Manila. She creates online content around Community™ concepts and assists in developing promotional campaigns answering why Community™ should be each organization’s preferred solution, focusing on its simplicity and integrated approach. She has had years of experience in social media content creation handling different brands over the years.

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When companies need to set or review salaries, they normally use local market data as their external reference. But what do you do when there is no local market data available? This is common in smaller countries where there are not as many established employers and little to no survey providers are present. As HR consultants, we have received many inquiries on this matter and have seen companies resort to using salary data from nearby countries in the region as their proxy.

While it is understandable that in this case, companies would think that salary data closest to them in terms of proximity could be a valid alternative because perhaps countries within the same region would share similar characteristics, this is certainly not the case. We conduct salary surveys in over 150 countries, three times a year and would argue that while the country next door would have many similar jobs as your own, salary rates and pay packages are considerably different.

In Birches Group, we believe that local staff salaries should always be based on local market data. Here’s why:

The cost of labor in every country varies significantly, even if they all belong to the same region. Local conditions and availability of talent are what drive salary movement in any country. Talent that could be widely available in one market, may be very limited in another. So, when smaller markets reference their salaries against larger markets, especially if they are regional locations where wages are usually three to four times higher, those salaries would be overstated if put into the local context.

Using the example above, this is a chart that illustrates the equivalent pay range for a BG-10, a Seasoned Professional, in each of the Southeast Asian labor markets. If you are an employer in Laos and lack salary data for a BG-10 level, it would not be advisable to reference the equivalent salary range in Thailand just because you share a border with them. Similarly, if you were to apply Thailand pay ranges locally in Myanmar, not only are you significantly overpaying, but this would also be challenging to defend and maintain moving forward.

Market practice on compensation and benefits is different for every country. For some markets, certain allowances or benefits are mandated by local law, while other markets do not share the same requirement. In other countries, employers provide benefits to address local hardships, such as a company shuttle provided to staff to address the lack of public transport. But if you look at other countries in the same region, this may not be the case. Also, some countries have benefits that are cultural in nature making it unique to their market, while others could have something else. If you reference pay practices from other countries, you risk ignoring the unique conditions of your own market. See this example below:

The chart above illustrates total compensation pay packages for a BG-10 Seasoned Professional in ten countries in east and southern Africa. If you look closely, each component of total compensation varies for every country. Using the example above on pay practices, if you are an employer in Tanzania for example, the pay mix at the BG-10 level is comprised of not only cash benefits on top of base salary but in-kind benefits as well. But choosing to use salary data from Kenya because they are close and they are a regional hub, the pay mix toward total compensation is not the same. If you apply this in the local Tanzanian context, you are missing market practices on in-kind benefits compared to other employers in the local market.

So What Should You Do?

If your organization is in a small market in need of salary survey data, we recommend working with a survey provider whose methodology is designed for developing markets. Survey providers are equipped to launch local salary surveys that can bring employers the market data they need to inform their pay management policies accordingly.

Birches Group’s Community Market Compensation and Benefits Surveys are designed with developing markets in mind. And because developing markets are dynamic, our surveys cover all elements toward total compensation to give our clients the full context of the local labor market. Contact us to access the market data you need or to learn more about our subscription options.

Want to know if your existing compensation practices have the elements of a good compensation program or if there are areas that could use some improvement? Take our quick Compensation Program Assessment Quiz

Bianca manages our Marketing Team in Manila. She crafts messaging around Community™ concepts and develops promotional campaigns answering why Community™ should be each organization’s preferred solution, focusing on its simplicity and integrated approach. She has held various roles within Birches Group since 2009, starting as a Compensation Analyst and worked her way to Compensation Team Lead, and Training Program Services Manager. In addition to her current role in marketing and communications, she represents Birches Group in international HR conferences with private sector audiences.

Follow us on our LinkedIn for more content on pay management and HR solutions.

What is the Great Resignation? Avoiding the Great Resignation, can companies or organizations do it? The trend of mass resignation can’t entirely be attributed to the pandemic, and some might even argue it isn’t a true phenomenon. But one cannot deny the number of recent resignations mostly stemming from employee dissatisfaction.

Because of the sudden shift in the work dynamic brought by the pandemic, employees have started thinking about what they truly value. Many questioned whether they were okay with companies returning to the way things were. Others questioned if there was a ‘normal’ to return to after the last two years. But for many of these employees, there was no going back. Let’s look at some of the reasons people resigned:

  1. Lack of Autonomy – Employees want the freedom to work in a way that suits them. They want to make decisions without their managers or supervisors looking over their shoulders. Being micromanaged doesn’t communicate trust and can be highly demotivating. It also takes away the sense of accomplishment the employee can get from putting in hard work.
  • Burnout – Staff are physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted. They work long hours, and the work doesn’t give them any sense of accomplishment. Employees often struggle to find their purpose in the organization and focus on putting in the hours. Add a long commute and external stressors, and it’s a perfect recipe for burnout.
  • Inadequate Compensation and Benefits – Many cite low pay or lacking benefits as reasons for resigning. While having a competitive salary is always attractive, many now look for flexible work hours, output-based work systems, paid leaves, and work-from-home options. According to an article by LinkedIn on remote work, employers that offer remote or flexible work are better positioned to attract talent in a post-pandemic world. Work flexibility has become a top priority for employees when considering a new job.

Avoiding Employee Dissatisfaction and Being Part of the Great Resignation

Organizations can avoid employee dissatisfaction and being part of the Great Resignation through a purpose-driven organizational framework. We at Birches Group believe that organizations of all sizes and industries can improve employee satisfaction using a simple integrated method that starts with the job description.

Most organizations do not grasp the integral role that job descriptions play and how it facilitates several core HR functions. Clear, consistent, and purpose-driven job descriptions allow employees to shift from time-based work to one focused on purpose and outputs. When employees understand their work, they don’t need to be micromanaged by their supervisors. Employees can be empowered to make their own decisions and be trusted to do the job.

While it doesn’t seem like the obvious solution, clear, consistent, and purpose-driven job descriptions impact every aspect of human resources and workforce management. By taking this first step, organizations have the flexibility to structure their work model into a hybrid where employees can work from home when they need to and come to work to collaborate. At the same time, this addresses burnout. Working from home allows employees the freedom to work in a way that works for them and their lifestyle. Organizations can measure the work of their people through their outputs and focus on their staff’s skills development. Looking over the employee’s shoulders is no longer necessary. Gone are the days when employees need to clock in and out to prove they are working efficiently.

Because the importance of job descriptions is often overlooked, very few managers and HR practitioners are trained on how to write good job descriptions. Job descriptions should be more than just a checklist of things to do. A list focuses on process and individual tasks. In contrast, a good job description focuses on the role’s purpose and output.

Create Clear, Consistent, and Purpose-driven Job Descriptions in Three Easy Steps

As part of Birches Group’s larger Community™ approach and platform, our Job Design tool provides organizations clarity and ease in describing work. A good job description can be written in three steps:

Step 1: The Mission Statement – The mission statement is crucial, connecting the role to the organization’s larger mission and emphasizing why the job matters. It gives context to the role by describing the unit it belongs to, the broad function of the unit, and the position of the role in supporting the unit and its organizational objectives.

Step 2: The Functional Statements – The functional statements describe the intended functions and focus of the role. Organized using our three Community™ factors—PurposeEngagement, and Deliverywe offer guide questions and a lexicon of verbs, so each statement aligns with the appropriate grade level.

Step 3: The Skills and Qualifications Profile – The profile describes the level of generic expertise required for the role. This expertise can be specialized knowledge, experience in related fields, and language requirements that could facilitate the recruitment process for the role.

Through these three simple steps, our Community™ Job Design tool provides organizations a way to craft clear and consistent job descriptions that can easily be adapted according to the role’s job level and unit.

Good job descriptions help organizations address employee satisfaction and engagement issues because every employee wants to know their work matters. Through this first step, organizations pave the way to build an integrated, comprehensive model of work where employees know their contributions are valued.

To learn more about our Community™ Job Design tool and how it can help you create clear, consistent, and purpose-driven job descriptions, contact us.

Kai works in our Marketing Team in Manila. She creates online content around Community™ concepts and assists in developing promotional campaigns answering why Community™ should be each organization’s preferred solution, focusing on its simplicity and integrated approach. She has had years of experience in social media content creation handling different brands over the years.

Follow us on our LinkedIn for more content on pay management and HR solutions.

In Birches Group, we apply a total compensation approach when analyzing salary survey data.  While we understand that many employers are primarily interested about how their base salaries compare against other comparators, we should not forget that benefits also play an important role in many markets, particularly in developing countries.

For many years, Birches Group has been conducting salary surveys in over 150 countries around the world. Our experience working with high growth markets has shown us that when employers center their decisions on base salary alone, they are essentially discounting the value benefits have in that market and its possible impact on staff recruitment and retention.

If you are working with developing market data, here are three reasons why total compensation is the best approach:

  • Pay Packages Can be Varied – Every organization has its own pay policy. This policy then guides how organizations design their pay packages. Depending on how competitive they want their salaries to be, the types of benefits they can include, and their target peer group, you can imagine how varied pay packages can be in just one single country. In some markets, benefits could be government mandated, some could be cultural, and others could address local market conditions. If all these benefits are provided by majority of your target comparators, then it would not be enough to compete on base salaries alone.
  • Market Practice – As mentioned, some benefits are considered statutory, while others are cultural in nature. It is the responsibility of the employer to know what the local market practice is and tailor their pay policy around this. Not only do you have to abide by what the law states, but also some benefits are given for historical reasons. Concentrating on just cash could make you fall short in the point of view of your staff.
  • Being Competitive – Not all organizations compete the same way. Some companies like to have competitive base salaries but not provide many benefits, while others may not have competitive base salaries but offer very attractive benefits. The only way HR can properly determine competitiveness is through a total compensation view. We believe that it is important for employers to have a “healthy” mix of base salary, cash, and in-kind benefits at every level, where pay packages are competitively aligned to your market but still following internal policy.

Birches Group surveys are designed with developing markets in mind. Our survey reflects employer practice for a wide variety of allowances and benefits, both cash and in-kind, demonstrating nuances commonly found in these markets. And because developing markets are dynamic, every country is updated on an ongoing basis three times a year, in April, July, and October. Contact us to access the survey data that you need.

Want to know if your existing compensation practices have the elements of a good compensation program or if there are areas that could use some improvement? Take our quick Compensation Program Assessment Quiz

Bianca manages our Marketing Team in Manila. She crafts messaging around Community™ concepts and develops promotional campaigns answering why Community™ should be each organization’s preferred solution, focusing on its simplicity and integrated approach. She has held various roles within Birches Group since 2009, starting as a Compensation Analyst and worked her way to Compensation Team Lead, and Training Program Services Manager. In addition to her current role in marketing and communications, she represents Birches Group in international HR conferences with private sector audiences.

Follow us on our LinkedIn for more content on pay management and HR solutions.

Salary surveys are an important HR tool. They are necessary for organizations to properly manage and maintain compensation every year. However, survey approaches can differ greatly from one provider to the next, particularly in the information they collect, their approach to job matching, and their treatment and presentation of employer data.

When deciding which survey data to use, it is essential for HR practitioners to familiarize themselves with the kind of information that each survey provides, the methodology behind the analysis, and the limitations that come with every approach. Here are some things to keep in mind to help organizations steer clear of typical salary survey missteps:

  • Limits When Working with Job Data – in our article, “Measuring Market Position”, we explained that too much emphasis has been placed on certain occupations just because they are considered ‘hot jobs.’ But occupational variance is not as significant as you think, especially when looking at salary surveys, because when you update your salary scale, you essentially update your grade levels – and grade levels are generic, not based on occupations. When looking at survey data, job data can be a useful additional reference if you want to look deeper into the market data. But it is important to note that job data is not what impacts your salary scale, but grade level data.
  • Limits When Working with Incumbent Data – we have mentioned in a few of our past articles how incredibly misleading incumbent data can be when used as a survey data reference. Many employers believe that if a salary survey reports actual incumbent salaries, the market data is somehow perceived as more ‘accurate’. In Birches Group, we believe that salary range data, not incumbent data, provides a more stable and realistic view of the labor market. Incumbent salaries are person-based, highly dependent on the qualities of the individual sitting in that position. When working with incumbent salaries, it is common to find outliers that significantly skew the overall market data because their individual salaries are influenced by other factors separate from the job. But when salary ranges become the reference, this provides a more accurate picture of market movement and serves as bookends that prevent outliers in the analysis.
  • Limitations When Working with Just Base Salary – some employers, when looking at survey data, tend to rest their analysis just on base salary information. The problem with this approach is that in majority of labor markets around the world, base salary is only one component of an employee’s actual compensation. To be considered as an employer of choice, you will need to look at the full package, and that includes benefits – cash and in-kind – as well as market practices on non-salary benefits such as pension, medical, etc. In some markets, benefits have a big impact when it comes to recruitment and retention. In other countries, some benefits are mandatory, some cultural, while others address local hardships.

Birches Group’s conducts compensation and benefits surveys in over 150 countries around the world. Our multi-sector approach is designed for high growth, developing markets where leading employers determine local market trends and practices. We capture data from a total compensation perspective because in many of these markets, base salary is only part of the picture. Additionally, because developing markets are volatile, our surveys make use of salary range data to provide our participants a more accurate movement of the market that is linked to the purpose of the job, not the incumbent. Lastly, our surveys are updated three times a year, every April, July, and October which guarantees our clients fresh data every time. Contact us to learn more about our Community™ Compensation and Benefits Survey in your country.

Want to know if your existing compensation practices have the elements of a good compensation program or if there are areas that could use some improvement? Take our quick Compensation Program Assessment Quiz

Bianca manages our Marketing Team in Manila. She crafts messaging around Community™ concepts and develops promotional campaigns answering why Community™ should be each organization’s preferred solution, focusing on its simplicity and integrated approach. She has held various roles within Birches Group since 2009, starting as a Compensation Analyst and worked her way to Compensation Team Lead, and Training Program Services Manager. In addition to her current role in marketing and communications, she represents Birches Group in international HR conferences with private sector audiences.

Follow us on our LinkedIn for more content on pay management and HR solutions.