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Answering Common Comp Questions from Managers: A How-to Guide

As a compensation pro, you’re in charge of something everyone at your organization cares about: pay.

Whenever a pay-related conflict arises (and you and I both know, they arise all the time), it’s you who comes to the rescue. 

Even though I can’t see your cape (I’m sure it’s just invisible), you’re a total superhero.

So why not spend your time on the comp frontlines equipped with resources that can simplify your job?

And guess what — I’ve got you covered. You didn’t think I’d mention time-saving, stress-alleviating content without offering it, did you?!

Right here, right now, I’ll unpack two of the most common comp questions you’ll hear from managers.

Without further ado…

Can I pay my star employee more?

Good question, Mrs. Manager! 

The short answer: Maybe. 

The longer answer: Maybe, and it depends on a few factors. 

The most important of these factors is how much this star employee contributes to organizational success.

To gauge this, ask Mrs. Manager: What unique skills does this star employee bring to the table? What might a long-term future look like for them at the company?

After you ask Mrs. Manager these crucial questions, it’s time you meet with your organization’s executives. 

Make sure you know what matters most to your organization right now. What goals is it trying to achieve? Which roles are vital to organizational success? 

Once you’ve completed these steps, determine if this star player has skills that help drive your business’ goals — and if they’re eligible for a raise.

Finally, explain to Mrs. Manager why your organization can or can’t award her top performer a raise. 

Don’t be afraid to mention comp’s side of the situation, too! If departmental budgets are tight (especially for Mrs. Manager’s department), then a pay raise might be out of the question.

But, if Mrs. Manager’s star employee truly impacts greater business success, then you may not be able to afford to deny them a raise.

Turnover is high, and I’m upset. My team is always changing. How can we fix this?

As I approach the answer to this common comp question, I can’t help but lay down this truth: Lots of times, employee turnover isn’t related to comp.

It’s related to managers.

That said, you’ll likely have to do some investigating to find out what’s at the root of Mrs. Manager’s team’s turnover.

If it turns out that pay is what’s driving people away, you have a decision to make: determine the cost of turnover and account for it in your talent strategy, or bump up employee pay.

If you’re going to bump up employee pay, then you’ll need to redefine your pay markets across the board and present a new, strategic offer to your employees.

(You might consider only raising the pay of top performers, just to keep costs reasonable. Up to you, though. 🤷‍♀️)

More questions from managers

I hope this helped you gain some insight into how to best handle some of the most common comp questions managers will throw at you!

Before I forget — Payfactors put together an entire cheat sheet on how seasoned Comp Strategists would answer common comp questions from managers. (And, it As more Qs than this post does!)

Trust me, you’re gonna want to keep this one in your toolbelt!

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