communicating compensation

A Compensation Pro’s Guide to Communication

As a compensation pro, you’ve got a lot riding on your shoulders.

Your work is at the foundation of your organization, and if you don’t get pay right, nothing else matters.

You know what else is vital to your organization—and your success as a comp pro? Communication.

But as an industry, it’s something we struggle with.

In fact, communicating comp was identified as a top challenge in Payfactors’ recent report, The New Age of Comp, which surveyed over 1,000 North American comp pros.

We asked respondents, “In what ways do you currently equip managers to have meaningful conversations with employees about the value and mechanics of how they’re compensated?”

We found:

  • 38 percent of comp pros said they don’t provide any support for managers to have these conversations
  • 36 percent said communication materials are created centrally to explain compensation
  • 22 percent said information about compensation is made available on the corporate intranet
  • 33 percent said central messages about compensation are pushed out through email/newsletters

On top of these telling responses, nearly half of all comp pros surveyed said the main issue with communicating about comp is customizing messages for different audiences.

What’s all of this mean?

That we’re not arming our managers with the tools and resources they need to talk with their employees about pay.

That, while we may be creating materials to help explain comp, we’re not putting them where employees naturally think to look.

And—above all—we’re not customizing our messages to fit the different audiences within our organization.

What it all boils down to is this: our current communication practices and processes just aren’t getting the job done.

It’s time to have more meaningful conversations about comp with everyone at your organization. Here are three steps to get you on the right track.


1. Get to know your people

Your organization consists of at least three different levels of people: execs, managers, and employees. You need to tailor your communications to each of them. But to do that, you’ve got to get to know what makes them tick.

Talk with them to find out:

  • Their goals
  • Their preferred method of communication
  • Their knowledge about your company’s compensation practices

Don’t stop there, though.

Execs drive your organization. Work with them to figure out how comp can help them meet their objectives.

Managers are at the center of it all, so it’s essential to provide this audience with the support they need to understand and communicate comp.

Learn about their successes and challenges. Go in-depth with them about their team’s structure. Don’t be shy—get all the information you need to help them out.

Employees might need the most context when it comes to comp—but that’s why you’re here. Gauge their understanding of pay and how it’s determined, and go from there.

Remember—the people at your organization care about what you have to say, because everyone cares about their pay.

Go the extra mile to make sure they actually hear you.


2. Tailor your communications

Next, cater your message and mediums to each persona.

For execs, quick and to-the-point messaging is your best bet. Use metrics, graphs, and charts to show them what you’re saying. Make the conversation evergreen by including dashboards that provide continual updates.

Educate your managers on your organization’s comp philosophy. Equip them with the answers they need to talk about pay effectively and comprehensively. Encourage them to be transparent with their employees.

Employees need (and deserve!) all the details. Drop the jargon and speak to them in real terms. Engage them through fun events like lunch and learns, where you and your team can rapidly answer their questions. To employees, you’re the face of compensation—so own it!


Keep improving

The last step is simple: Repeat.

Iterate on the strategies that are working, and drop the ones that aren’t.

Never stop learning more about each persona at your organization. Never stop customizing your communication to fit them.

And the biggest key to having great conversations about comp? Never stop having them.

Want more info about communicating comp and what’s going on in the industry? Download The New Age of Comp Survey Report for free now.

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