What Employers Should Know about Today’s Salaries and Raises

With the economy on the rebound, the conversation surrounding employee compensation has surfaced once again. Employers must know what their employees are worth and what they are looking for in terms of corporate culture in order to attract top talent in the field. Kimberly Duffy-Wylam, president and managing partner of Vantagen, a human resources and benefits consulting firm and wholly owned subsidiary of ParenteBeard, which is ranked among the top 25 accounting firms in the U.S., shares with us what employers need to know about compensation in today’s market and what they can do if they cannot offer employees the raise they are seeking.

What do employers need to know about compensation in today’s market?

Over the past few years, people have not paid attention to compensation because “you’re lucky to just have a job” was definitely a mantra out there. However, if you’ve survived the recession and you’re still in business now, there still is a real labor pool challenge in this country and you’ve got to get back to being competitive with wages.

How often should raises be provided?

Over the past five years, the economy has played a major role in terms of salary increases being non-existent, very low, or not on a regular basis. However, if the organization is growing and has the finances to do so, raises are common every 12 to 18 months. If the company is struggling through the economy, they may be spaced out a little bit longer. It really depends on the organization, as there is no hard, fast rule in terms of when a salary increase is going to come.

What steps can employers take if they cannot offer an employee the raise they want? Should nonmonetary incentives be considered?

Most employees do not leave because of their base pay, and they can overlook not getting a raise in the past year-and-half if they have other perks. This is where employers can get very creative. This is where the employer really needs to know the pulse and the climate of their employee base. Not everybody is just looking for money. Some people are looking for a flexible work schedule – Fridays off, or half days on Fridays, casual dress days, company paid lunches or morning coffee. Sometimes an intrinsic value is just having access to the CEO or leadership team through things such as lunch-and-learns with people at the top, because that makes the employees feel important. Recognition is also a great reward, as well bonuses or even a better benefit plan. These are all ways that you can incentivize employees to stay in lieu of, or in addition to, increasing base compensation.