People First HR Services

Do your research to find ‘right’ compensation

Colleen Coates

All you have to do is type the word salary into any web browser and you will get a plethora of options to choose from to find out how much you should be paid.

If you are the employee who is searching for this information, you may choose to focus on the highest of those that you find. If you are the employer, your view may be different on what the “right” salary is for that same position. I conducted a test of three different websites offering to give me the salary for an accountant, and I came up with three different salaries, with an overall difference of $30,000.

So what’s a person to do with such vastly different information? Well, like any other topic you search on the Internet, you have to consider the source and determine objectivity and reliability. As the employment rate in Canada drops and the search for talent tightens, organizations will need to become even more aware of how their salaries, incentives and benefits compare to their competitors for talent. Compensation surveys such as the Manitoba report sponsored by the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce provide total compensation information to help guide company decisions.

It’s no accident that successful companies are able to attract and retain key individuals. Through well-thought out compensation strategies, successful companies have learned to arm themselves with reliable data to help guide compensation decisions. These compensation strategies must be developed as part of an overall talent management strategy that helps companies ensure they are positioned to meet current and future talent needs.

According to a recent study, there are 22 key priorities for organizations who want to improve their talent management processes. The study suggests that leaders, owners and human resource professionals need to focus on the areas of performance management, sourcing and recruiting, workforce planning, competency management, learning and development, and leadership development. The following list is the top 10 of 22 programs and processes required for those who want to do a better job at developing and managing their people:

— Coaching program.

— Consolidation of staffing requirements.

— Processes to identify current and future talent gaps.

— Organizational and functional competencies maintained.

— Staffing metrics such as cost per hire.

— Manager and corporate goal alignment.

— Consistent development plans and processes.

— Clear and measurable goals for all employees.

— Job functional competencies established.

— Competencies incorporated into recruitment process.

Unfortunately, I would suggest that many organizations would say these processes are HR activities, but they should be viewed as mission critical business processes. While many of the business leaders I speak with would agree that the activities above are important to an organization’s success, I also hear that these same organizations are not satisfied with how these programs and processes are implemented in their own organization.

Upon further research into Manitoba organizations’ implementation of the above processes and activities I reviewed the results from the 2011/2012 Compensation Survey for Manitoba Employers. One question posed asked participants if they had a formal performance management program in place. An impressive 85 per cent of private organizations said they had a formal program in place, but only 50 per cent of smaller organizations (less than 100 employees). The untold story though is the lack of effectiveness of their performance management programs. In an informal poll conducted last year, we found approximately 70 per cent of organizations were unhappy with their performance management program.

If you want to be one of those successful companies that do a great job at managing and developing their people, you need to first focus on the people and processes that matter to your business. Spend your time on the 30 per cent of your people who generate 70 per cent of your organization’s value. Second, work with your business leaders to design and implement business processes that drive your organization’s success, such as those listed above. Lastly, automate processes wherever you can and where it makes sense. Bottom line is, add value to your organization by implementing a solid talent management framework that will support the needs of the business with enough flexibility to expand and contract with changing labour market demands, an uncertain economy and industry-specific challenges that arise.

Colleen Coates, CHRP, CCP, is a Practice Leader with People First HR Services Ltd. She can be contacted at



2011/2012 Compensation Survey for Manitoba Employers sponsored by the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 5, 2011 H2