Making the most of your summer

July 19, 2021

Four things you can do over the summer to prepare for the busy season

It happens every year. The office goes quiet during the summer, as everyone takes some time off. You might be taking days off or even just enjoying a less hectic pace at work. Then, all of a sudden, September hits and compensation planning season is upon you. Why does the call come as a surprise each year? “What are the merit increase projections? What should we set aside for equity and market adjustments?” Then, it’s a scramble. Everyone is back in the office after summer vacations and looking to hit the ground running. They’re looking to you and your team to help them evaluate and price new jobs for the coming year and for HR and recruiters to help with job descriptions, create staffing plans … it all hits at once. Don’t you wish you would have done something to get ahead of the rush?

Well, here we are, it’s summer. While the office is a bit quieter, why not take some steps to set yourself up for success in Q4 and the coming year? Here are four easy things you can do over the third quarter to give yourself a leg up:

1. Talk to your clients.

Who are your clients? Why, the HR Business Partners and department managers that you support, of course. Now is the perfect time to put a half hour on each of their calendars and connect with them. By asking a few simple questions, you not only further the connection between you and your clients, but you also gather valuable insights that will help you better plan out your workload in advance. Questions you can ask include:

  • What’s working and what’s not?
  • Are there specific priorities or areas of concern for you? How can we help?
  • What can I/our team do differently in the coming year to better support you?

For example, the IT manager might tell you about a new team they’re creating or that they’re worried about attraction and retention for their Information Security team. Both of these examples would require support from compensation and HR to help them do things, such as create jobs, establish the right salary ranges, and provide onboarding support. In turn, you may also need to source a new IT-specific survey or evaluate policies/perks specific to the IT function.

Not only have you now reinforced the partnership and goodwill by listening to their needs, but you’ve given yourself an advantage. You have a heads up on a few of the projects that will be coming your way.

2. Conduct competitive analysis for job families.

Many times when it comes to compensation planning, you’re comparing just the benchmark jobs to survey data to gauge your competitiveness. However, it is best practice to do a deep dive on the majority of your job families every few years. Summertime is a great time to do just that.

Select two or three job families that may be in need of some extra-special attention. Maybe there has been high turnover in several of the roles. Or, maybe you’ve received several requests for equity or market adjustments for incumbents. Certainly you’ve been responsive to those individual requests, but now that you have a bit more time, some of the things you could look at are:

  • Take the current market data for the jobs and model an increase, prior to receiving new survey data. Look at the impact an increase would have on your ranges and incumbents.
  • Consider how your incumbents are positioned within the current range. Are most employees over the midpoint, nearing the top of the range? If so, that could be a sign that your ranges need to be adjusted or that your jobs need different ranges.
  • Assess the promotion track for the job family and how your compensation plan supports that progression. Is there adequate room for promotional increases? Has there been compression over time?

3. Assess your survey usage and data needs.

Like a lot of things in life and work, with salary surveys we may fall into a rhythm and just buy the same salary data year after year. But are you really getting the most bang for your buck with those surveys? Your business has likely changed over time, meaning your jobs have changed. Are your salary surveys providing the data and insight you need?

Every couple of years, it’s a good idea to look at how you are using your current salary surveys and where you might have gaps in your data. For example, you may have an industry-specific survey that you use for a small number of jobs. Take a look at your cost per job for that survey (the number of jobs mapped to that survey) versus those costs for some of your more widely used surveys. Are other options available that would provide quality data at a better cost/job? Would changing surveys also reduce the time and money spent on participation and purchasing? Additionally, are there jobs families where you have little to no survey coverage? Take the time now to research the available options to determine your survey purchase budget for the coming year.

4. Plan your next year.

Rather than operating as an HR firefighter, running from one request to the next, what if you had a detailed annual calendar that will help you take on projects at a measured pace while still being responsive to the day-to-day needs of your clients?

You know there are several annual recurring activities (e.g., annual increase planning and administration, incentive processing, performance management activities, survey participation, and many others). Plot those activities on the calendar first.

Next, if you’re taking our advice, you now know what your clients need from you in the coming year and can allocate time for these special projects. Depending on the activity, you may even be able to commit to timelines with your clients, to set expectations. We all have limited resources. It’s much easier to manage and achieve your goals with a well laid out plan.

While we’re not saying that you shouldn’t enjoy your Friday afternoon at the pool, by adding in a few steps you’ll be better prepared for the busy season ahead. Looking for more tips and tricks? We’re here to help!