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Communicate about pay - you'll have everyone's total attention!
By Kim Harrison,
Consultant, Author and Principal of www.cuttingedgepr.com
As a PR practitioner, you can add value to your organization, especially the HR department, by acting as a catalyst on communication about pay. This topic is close to everyone’s heart – and hip pocket – but too often employees are left in the dark about how their pay is calculated.
The HR department tells new employees how much they will be paid, but it usually doesn’t say how that figure was decided, which is something absolutely everyone wants to know. Employees want to know the benefits they receive and every employee wants to know what they need to do to earn a pay rise.
Yet US research shows that only about 40% of staff understand why they are paid at their current salary level, and only about 35% know how their pay compares with the market. The rest have to guess.
To boost employee satisfaction with pay, you should act as a catalyst to communicate how pay rates are determined and which criteria are used, such as performance, seniority, and market comparison.
If your employer doesn’t already communicate this key information, you should have a word to your paymaster or HR manager about it. If they are reluctant, you can point out the benefits of doing this and, if necessary, pursue the idea with senior management. You can offer to write all the standard text of the information material.
All employees should be told about the total cost of their employment. An annual statement should be provided to every employee in a letter, leaflet, brochure or report. A good time to do this is when employees are notified of a forthcoming pay review.
Many employees have no idea of the total cost of employing them, and tend to vastly under-estimate the non-salary, benefits component of their employment costs, assuming them to be a ‘given’. Obviously some of the more flexible benefits relate more to senior executives, but the importance of communicating to all employees about the components of their overall pay package is still a key principle.
The benefits document is a valuable communication tool to educate employees about the details of their salary and benefits entitlements. Experience has shown that producing an individual benefits document for each employee will create beneficial strategic consequences by strengthening positive employee attitudes towards the employer.
Specialist consultants have software readily available to handle this process. This is a valuable investment because, at the least, such communication helps to reduce the time taken by HR staff to answer common pay questions and misconceptions about employee benefits.
Even if your employer does provide a statement of total employment cost to each employee, take the initiative and review the wording of the information material. Most of the time you will find it has too much HR jargon that many employees don’t understand. So jump in and get your hands dirty!
Non-salary costs can be a significant proportion of the pay package, encompassing benefits such as:
You can write a covering letter on behalf of the CEO or the HR manager broadly along the following lines:
This article is based on a chapter in the e-book, Excel with employee communication – the core area of PR practice, by Kim Harrison, which you can access at www.cuttingedgepr.com
About the Author
Kim Harrison is a recognized authority in the public relations field. His website, www.cuttingedgepr.com, provides a wealth of informative articles and resources on public relations techniques and management.
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