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Hey, HR Lady...

Q I am an administrative assistant to a CEO and he just asked me to put in a benefit plan for our company. This is a huge task and I feel like a fish out water. Please help!
Katelinn from Bend

Dear Katelinn –
No worries, I will walk you through it. First line of business is to hire a benefits consultant who can look at your current plan, help you determine an employee benefit budget and employee benefit survey. Your consultant will advise you every step of the way. The good thing about hiring a benefit consultant is that you don’t pay a dime, that is right, not a dime since they typically get compensated off commissions from the health insurance carrier.


When it comes to benefit consulting The HUMAN Touch recommends Liz Farrugia of The Partners Group, Julie Hammond of Beecher Carlson or Patrick O’Keefe from Cascade Insurance Company. These folks are worth their weight in gold, are a pleasure to work with and give you lots of free advice and do much of the work for you so you can put in value-added cost effective benefits that will please your boss and your employee population.

Q How can we convince our employees that our compensation plans are competitive?
David H. from Bend –

Dear D.H. –
First, before you “convince them” you have to make sure that they are in fact competitive with the industry. Invest your time and energy in doing some market analysis on benchmark salary data. There are many firms out there that will help you develop a comprehensive program. As I recommended in the past www.olmis.org or the Bureau of Labor’s http://www.bls.gov/bls/blswage.htm provides the most relevant data and it is free. You need research to show your employees that you are paying competitively. Your employees are likely to search the web themselves and present their own data using www.salary.com or www.payscale.com. You want to use the Federal and State data because these are based on solid economic research across many disciplines on job specific research corresponding with geographic indicators.


You can do a search by position, geographic area etc. You can get Oregon comp ratios as well as info by County. The survey presents data in the 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th, and 90th percentiles. A good rule of thumb is you want to hover around the 50th percentile. You don’t want to be the highest paying firm in town nor do you want to be below the 10th percentile or you will get a reputation for being a low paying employer and that may detract potential candidates from pursuing employment. You should revisit the numbers at least twice a year to insure you are paying competitively and make adjustments where necessary. Be prepared to show your employees the data. When they actually see the numbers it builds confidence and their paradigm might change for the better because alas the grass is not always greener.


Lastly, sharing your comp data and how your program works shows that you are transparent and that employees are paid using a fair and systematic approach. Everyone will sleep better at night.
HR Lady’s quote of the day: “The one who demonstrates humility first always wins” – Mike Doden, Owner, Rebound Physical Therapy.


Julie Leutschaft is the owner of The HUMAN Touch, HR Consulting & Career Counseling Services. Visit The HUMAN Touch at www.thehumantouchHR.com

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