Wednesday, July 16, 2014

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"Seattle's 100 Best Companies To Work For" by Seattle Business Magazine

The July 2014 issue of Seattle Business magazine has a list of the top 100 Best Companies To Work For as determined by a survey of employees run by Fieldwork Webwork. As the magazine article itself states "Firms that make the list get there because the people who work at those businesses like their jobs, their bosses and their benefits." In other words, the top 100 businesses have great Total Rewards as expressed by their employees in this survey.

There are a couple of notable omissions from the first paragraph of the article which starts on page 35...

1) There's no mention of the sample size or how the sample was determined. 

After some more digging there is a statement on page 44 that states that "thousands of employees" were surveyed on the topics of "benefits, communications, corporate culture, hiring and retention, leadership of executive, performance standards, responsibility & decision making, rewards & recognition, training & education and workplace environment." So benefits is specifically called out. I'm not sure what performance standards is supposed to relate to, is it employee performance, organizational performance, some other type of performance? I don't know. And I guess pay is lumped into "Rewards & Recognition". 



In Total Rewards parlance, there are five key factors: pay, benefits, recognition, learning & development and culture & work experience. I believe the survey's "rewards & recognition" actually covers all the other items in their list. But I digress. 

2) There's no mention of pay!

Holy smokes, no mention of pay in an article of the "Best Businesses To Work For". 

Well, I guess I shouldn't be that surprised. Most recent surveys of employee satisfaction point to things like working relationships and benefits packages as more highly engaging than pay. I always think of pay as the keys to entry. In most cases the base pay has to be competitive before other things like work life balance and working relationships come into play.

The survey reports results for three major categories of business: 

Small = 1 to 30 employees
Midsize = 31 to 99 employees
Large = 100+ employees

I'm thinking that "humongous" firms such as Boeing, Microsoft, and Amazon were not part of this survey if large is considered to start at 100 employees. 

The listing of the top businesses begins on page 44. A "top scoring category" is included for each of the top businesses. Here's a tally of the "top scoring categories" for the small, midsize and large lists.



Interesting that two top scoring categories across the board are "leadership of executive" and "work environment". The "performance standards" category didn't show up once. Maybe they should define that category a bit more. Benefits shows up in third place a couple of times. "Rewards & Recognition" barely makes a blip.

Here's a visual breakdown of the top scoring categories by business size.

Small Business


Midsize Business



Large Business



These surveys always catch my eye and I end up buying the magazine. So kudos to Seattle Business. They achieved their goal. Also kudos to the firms that are on the list. Seriously, great job, because you're doing something right. It's no small feat to get outstanding results from a survey of your employees. 

So what conclusions can we draw from these awards. People that go to work for smaller firms definitely value a specific mix of total rewards. An emphasis on great leadership, charisma, vision mixed with a great place to work with like minded individuals is going to succeed in garnering great feedback from that group. 

I would guess that as the organization grows in size and the access an employee has to "leadership of executive" diminishes then other factors come into play. Factors such as stability and affordability of benefits, consistent and meaningful performance evaluation, and setting of clear and achievable work goals and measures. There are lots of examples available in magazines, journals and on the web to support this thinking but I'm primarily giving you my reaction based on 20+ years of experience. 

For me it all comes down to creating a mix of total rewards that expresses the business philosophy, culture, goals that will attract, retain, and motivate employees to drive success of the business. It's different for every organization. Every organization, whether it's stated or implied, has those factors in place. The key is to manage the total rewards elements in a way that actually does support and drive success. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

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"Top Companies for Compensation & Benefits"

A new survey by Glassdoor puts Google as the number one place to work with Costco coming in second. The technology news site The Verge has a summary of the survey...

If a big paycheck is what you're after, Google is your best option among potential employers in Silicon Valley. In fact, the company also bests non-tech businesses when it comes to compensation and benefits. Google ranked first in a new survey from Glassdoor, coming in ahead of Facebook, Microsoft, Adobe and others. Engineers in Mountain View enjoy an average base salary of $128,000. Facebook’s engineers make slightly less at $120,000. Microsoft and Amazon round out the list of top tech firms, paying base salaries of $111,000 and $105,000.

Based on discussions I've had with people that work at Costco, I can back up the the claim that it's a top organization when it comes to compensation. Not just base pay though, they have a great benefits and work-life balance. Costco is a big-box store that I feel good about spending my money because they treat their employees with respect as evidenced by the excellent total compensation they offer.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

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"Here’s What Female And Male Journalists Actually Make"

Here's a survey that I don't think I've ever seen done. It's a small sample size relatively speaking (900 journalist), but I think it's large enough to draw conclusions. The article has some great displays of data as well. Depressing but not unexpected findings given the dearth of surveys of other industries and job types that arrive at the same conclusion.

Senior female journalists make about 80% of what their male counterparts make.

Is progress been made to close this gap? I don't know. I thought so and maybe some progress is occurring in specific industries or job types. I hope so.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

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"7 Lessons Anyone [YOU] Can Learn from Macklemore & Ryan Lewis"

Regardless of your musical tastes and whether or not you enjoy the music of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, it's hard to deny the tremendous success the duo has had over the past year. And this was not an overnight success, despite what it appeared to be last year. So it's with that sentiment that I link to this article by another very successful Seattle based artist, Chase Jarvis.

Here are the seven lessons that Chase lays out in his article based on his experiences knowing and working the Macklemore & Ryan Lewis:

  1. Freedom is More Important Than Money
  2. Setbacks are Temporary
  3. Only YOU Are in Charge of Your Personal Brand
  4. Have a Point of View
  5. Collaborating with Your Friends is a Good Thing – surround yourself with good people
  6. Don’t Let Them Put You in a Box
  7. Community is King 

Why am I linking to this article? To me, it's all about total rewards. It explains quite a bit about why someone would prioritize certain rewards over others, take lesson number one for instance.

Give it a read and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

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"Average Employee Only Takes Half of Earned Paid Time Off"

Linking to another WorldatWork article about paid time off usage. This gels with my experiences talking with people in companies. Just because an organization offers a benefit doesn't mean that all the organizational factors are in place to allow employees to actual use the benefit. All the pieces of the puzzle need to fit together and line up to support the employees in their work and in their lives in general. Ultimately, this will lead to more committed and effective employees that support the organization.

The article and the source report from Glassdoor is worth a read.

Monday, April 21, 2014

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"Incentive Pay Survey" results from WorldatWork

Good overview of short term and long term incentive use in both private and public organizations from the latest survey conducted by WorldatWork in conjunction with Deloitte Consulting LLP and Vivient Consulting. I'm not sure if you need to be a WorldatWork member to view the video. The link works without signing in. It's about 10 minutes long and packed with interesting information.

Monday, April 14, 2014

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"Executive Compensation Trends" Webinar Link

Following up on the "10 Steps To Great Market Pricing" webinar, I just finished watching the "Executive Compensation Trends" webinar, hosted by the same group.

It starts off a bit slow but really picks up at around 10 minutes in. There is some great data points and the webinar gives a good overview of executive compensation components and trends.

The speaker from Equilar is a bit hard to hear due to a low quality microphone or poor connection, but it's not terrible, just not great either. Despite that, I would recommend the webinar, especially if you're in the process of learning about executive compensation.