Editor's Note: As the labor market heats up, unevenly as always, it's time to ensure that these two core talent strategies - compensation and staffing - are linked by a common understanding of what it takes to get the right people in place at your organization. And what if they aren't? That is the question explored in today's Classic.
During an installment of our Lunch at the Compensation Cafe series a few years back, a member of our audience, Zak, posed a question about what to do when a staffing challenge bumps up against your compensation philosophy:
What should you do when you find a superstar candidate who breaks your compensation philosophy?
A great question, one which shines a light on the critical connection between your compensation philosophy and your staffing strategy (really, your entire talent management strategy). Certainly many HR programs - compensation included - must be designed with the flexibility to address legitimate exceptions to the rules. With this in mind, it is important to have a protocol in place to handle these in a consistent and objective manner tied to business needs and realities. It is when the exceptions become the norm that you have a real problem.
When your staffing efforts create an ongoing need to override your compensation philosophy and policies, it's time to bring leaders together for an honest discussion. This conversation might include questions like the following:
What kind of talent - truly and honestly - do you need to attract to your organization? If you are committed to a workforce of "superstars", you'd better be clear about what that term means to you. Specifically ... in terms of experience, credentials, attitude, potential, etc. And how that level of talent fits into your business and operating model.
Must the kind of "superstar" talent you have deemed essential to your business be bought? Can they be developed? Is your company capable of and committed to developing them?
What kind of career do you envision the "superstars" having with your organization? Abbreviated and sweet, where you tap their talents for the short time you can hold on to them, after which you resign yourself to their inevitable leap to the next thing? Or do you want and intend for them to stay and find a career (or at least the next step on their career ladder) with your firm?
Do your current compensation objectives, principles, approach, level and mix support this staffing strategy? Does bringing in a "superstar" workforce demand premium levels of compensation? If it does, do you have the programs and processes in place to ensure you're getting sufficient return on that outsized investment in talent? Or have you inadvertently resigned yourself to simply having higher labor costs than your business competitors?
Readers weigh in! How many of you have encountered an undeniable compensation/staffing disconnect? How do we identify the tipping point when we move beyond simple exception management to a genuine talent problem?
Ann Bares is the Founder and Editor of Compensation Café, Author of Compensation Force and Managing Partner of Altura Consulting Group LLC, where she provides compensation consulting and survey administration services to a wide range of client organizations. She earned her M.B.A. at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School and enjoys reading in her spare time. Follow her on Twitter at @annbares.