HR Perspective on Salary Management Part 2 – With Your Employer
By Shari Steinbach, MS RDN, RDBA Contributing Editor
While you are employed, circumstances may have you wondering about your current pay grade and if your salary is in line with similar positions. Lou Whiting, HR Retail Expert provides insights regarding pay grades, bonuses and how to have difficult compensation discussions:
1. How are pay levels/grades determined for new roles like that of a retail dietitian?
Establishing salary ranges for a new position take a bit of research. We will look at similar positions across the company to start and may also look at salary surveys for like positions in our region of the country. Since retail dietitian positions are fairly new, and they seem to have different accountabilities compared to dietitians in hospitals, we may also connect with retailers in share groups to see what ranges they may be offering for these types of roles.
2. Are store level employee's benefits different than corporate level?
There are typically more part-time positions at the store level which does affect the types of benefits offered. Some chains offer benefits even to part-time employees and these may include paid time off, 401k matches, health insurance, and employee discounts. Store level leadership is often included in a bonus program based on the individual store and/or company profits. Corporate leadership positions often get a bonus based on overall company success.
3. How are decisions made about who gets bonuses?
The decision as to whether to pay a bonus, and the amount of any bonus, is entirely at the company’s discretion and according to their bonus plan which can change over time. Some bonuses are paid out quarterly while others may only be once a year. Corporate positions that are usually in a bonus program include buyers, managers, directors, vice presidents and CEOs. The higher the position, the larger the bonus. For example, a manager may be eligible for 10% bonus and a director at 20-25%.
4. How are titles determined - (i.e.: specialist, manager, director, etc.)?
We look at the accountabilities and responsibilities of positions when deciding titles. For example, a specialist position may be someone who has a specific set of skills but no managerial responsibilities. A supervisor must have the ability to get others to meet performance expectations, to grow and develop but a supervisor has limited budget or decision-making leeway. Directors are generally responsible for a clear business unit or department within an organization and have some strategic expectations for continuously improving/growing their area’s impact. VP’s are generally considered officers of the organization responsible for leading major Divisions, Professional Functions (Legal/Marketing) or Strategic Business Units of organizations. VP’s are also expected to operate at a higher, strategic level – focused on the future, developing longer-term strategy, investment, alliances/partnerships and connection to major stakeholders.
5. If an employee has questions regarding pay grades and how theirs compares to other roles within the company, is it acceptable to ask HR?
Yes, this information is often transparent in broad terms of job titles, accountabilities and technical expertise and can be shared with you.
6. If an employee feels they are being underpaid compared to other positions, what course of action should they take?
First of all, don’t act out of immediate anger and frustration which can distract you from making a clear case for yourself. Also, be realistic about the issue. Sometimes there are good reasons another person makes more – experience, expertise or length of employment. When you do talk to your boss or HR, make the conversation about yourself and don’t mention specific names or salaries if you have information on others. Talk about your accomplishments that put you in position for an increase. You should also come prepared with some market research so you can show you have a strong understanding about the salary range for positions equivalent to yours. Check with agency recruiters, or individuals at non-competing retailers. If you get a no, ask about what you need to do to get an increase and when you can revisit the issue of a raise.