The WorldatWork 2015 Total Rewards Conference and Exhibition is now in the rearview mirror. Thanks to some timely reporting from on-the-scene reporter (and Compensation Café editor and local Minneapolis resident), Ann Bares along with regular Café contributor Dan Walter, the readership has already benefited from of one or two conference insights.
This year’s conference focused on the key theme of “Grow”, as a lifetime goal for total rewards professionals, with a sub-focus on the importance of new ideas, inspiration and innovation, for organizations to maintain their future competitive advantage.
At Ann’s urging (and gracious shoutout) from last week, I thought I would summarize the key points from our presentation, Show Me The Money: The Case for Increasing STEM Pay Scales. Our two key takeaways, which I’m not sure were too much of a “secret”, revolved around:
- Assembling and clearly articulating the case for a pay structure adjustment, ideally triangulated from multiple sources (employee perceptions, attrition, recruitment and market pay) – and the need to occasionally look at data a couple layers below the level of the obvious (in our case, non-STEM attrition vs. STEM attrition levels)
- Identifying the source of your competitive advantage, and then investing in that resource will be critical for organizations in the future, whether your organization is part of the private or public sector. Admittedly, in government, these initiatives and obtaining the necessary approvals sometimes do take slightly longer, but continued persistence combined with proper program execution and workforce communication post-approval, will deliver the desired results
Other Conference Trends and Buzz
Local reporter, Ann Bares, noted a couple of conference trends, based on either workshop topics or the focus of the conference speakers.
The new FLSA exemption standards generated some buzz among conference attendees. I missed that session, but sat with a couple of attendees at lunch who were smart enough to read between the lines of simply the legal compliance aspects of the change alone. My tablemates recognized that the change was maybe less focused on the increased overtime payment implications, but was a “re-run” of the goal behind the Fair Labor Standards Act when it was originally passed in 1938 – which was to expand employment in the U.S., and not to “protect” employees, by legally guaranteeing overtime payments at certain thresholds. This round of revisions to the FLSA standards is probably less about employee protections also, and more about creating a greater economic incentive with U.S. employers to hire more workers. This will ostensibly reduce excess labor supply, which is generally acknowledged by most armchair economists (and a few total rewards professionals), as the economic domino that must tip over before wage and salary growth will occur with any consistency.
Predicting The Future
Like many of my fellow conference participants, I found one of the remaining open seats at Steve Gross’s hugely popular session on Total Rewards 2020. The session was quite good, and Steve is always an engaging and thought-provoking presenter. I took more than a small amount of satisfaction in noting that many of the predictions for total rewards for 2020 (and beyond) had already been identified and expounded upon in this forum, under various titles, by the insightful and astute volunteer Café contributors. Additionally, the uncanny audience accuracy in response to the “show of hands” exercise that Steve conducted in canvassing the attendees on future trends, had me wondering whether many of the audience members were in attendance simply to confirm their existing awareness of future trends for 2020. Perhaps?
The Softer Side of Total Rewards
Both a cross section of workshop topics, along with the focus of the conference speakers underscored some other notable trends.
The keynote address by Dr. JP Pawliw-Fry, and its focus on pressure and stress and the accompanying neuroscience research, dovetailed nicely with the closing talk by Shawn Achor, which focused on the benefits of creating an optimal environment to enhance the emotional (happiness) state in employees. Other sessions also reflected an accelerated focus on behavioral economics/cognitive psychology and social neuroscience influences in pay and compensation, along with the continued importance of big data analytics, predictive analysis, data visualization and simply good data to provide "decision advantage" – particularly in the area of total rewards.
Everyone probably has a different perspective. What’s yours?
Chris Dobyns, CCP, CBP, is Manager of the Office of Human Resource Strategies for one of the largest U.S. intelligence agencies. The Office of Human Resource Strategies is responsible for compensation and incentives, occupational structure, recognition and rewards, HR policy, and human capital program evaluation and assessment for his Agency. Chris has worked in the area of compensation for more than 30 years, and has been employed in various compensation-related positions by a number of large, private sector companies including, Sears, Roebuck, Arizona Public Service and Westinghouse Savannah River Company.