Career Boosting Newsletter

Sign up now to receive your free subscription to the Cutting Edge PR e-News newsletter, packed with cutting-edge news and information specifically for PR people. You can unsubscribe at any time.

* = required

Current Newsletter

To view the current issue of Cutting Edge PR e-News, click here.

Free Articles

A great resource for learning more about key areas of public relations practice, which will help your career path. You can read about the following topics:
PR plans
PR and the internet
PR ethics
Employee communication
Change communication
Employee recognition
Crisis communication
PR management
Media relations
Event management
Corporate reputation
Core PR skills
Marketing communication
Communication measurement
Speeches and presentation
Investor relations
Visual communication

Browse free articles


"Kim, just wanted to say thanks for a fantastically informative site."

Paula Hanson


Read our testimonials

Communicate about pay - you'll have everyone's total attention!

By Kim Harrison,

Consultant, Author and Principal of

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:

  • Sick leave

  • Public holidays

  • Holiday leave

  • Long service leave

  • Workers compensation premium

  • Payroll tax

  • Goods and services tax on most purchases

  • Fringe benefits tax on employee benefits

  • Bonuses and rewards

  • Employee recognition program

  • Superannuation

  • Insurance paid on behalf of employees

  • Vehicle provided by employer

  • Vehicle running costs and repairs

  • Home telephone provided by employer

  • Mobile/cell phone

  • Computer, laptop and/or palm

  • Employee assistance program (consultant advice and guidance on personal issues that may affect their work performance)

  • Education cost reimbursement         

  • Children’s education cost reimbursement

  • Childcare costs

  • Workplace gymnasium

  • Paid maternity leave

  • Parking fees

  • Professional development courses

You can write a covering letter on behalf of the CEO or the HR manager broadly along the following lines:

"Dear [name of employee, preferably first name]

Hard working and dedicated employees are the backbone of every successful organization. At [name of organization], employees like you are our most valued resource and we believe it is important to provide you with a competitive salary and benefits.

This [booklet/report] briefly summarizes the salary and benefits that are provided to you, as well as their total cost to [name of organization]. This will help you understand the value of the total package provided to you in your employment here.

Please read this information carefully. If you wish to clarify any information contained in the summary, please call the human resources department on [HR phone number].

I encourage you to share the general information in this booklet with your family so that they are aware of the range of benefits provided to you. Your total non-salary benefit package provides added security for you and your family.

I appreciate your contribution to the success of [name of organization].



Chief Executive"

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


About the Author

Kim Harrison is a recognized authority in the public relations field. His website,, provides a wealth of informative articles and resources on public relations techniques and management.


Click here to go to the Free Articles Index