Provide "Better-Than-Market" Total Compensation

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"47 percent of people actively looking for new positions say company culture is the main reason" --

Does this make you wonder if you might have some work to do around your office?

A couple of weeks ago, we started a series about simple strategies to improve your work culture.  I’m going to share some of my experiences with the companies who are finding success in creating a great culture. 
#1 – Providing Feedback
(If you missed it, check out the link HERE)

#2 – Providing a Flexible Work Environment
If you missed it, check out the link HERE

#3 – Provide “Better-Than-Market” Total Compensation   

Most people tend to think of compensation as something totally separate from company culture. However, compensation is one of the ways that you express how much you value your employees. And as you know, employees who feel valued look forward to coming into work, have higher morale and productivity, and stay longer. So it’s important to periodically take a fresh look at how you stand compared to the market related to total compensation.

Do you know what total compensation is? The elements are listed below.  We like to think of these as levers. Each are important, but if you are able to offer more compared to what is common in companies in your industry in one area, it will allow you to sometimes offer less in another. 

  1. Salary

  2. Bonuses

  3. Health Benefits

  4. 401K

  5. Vacation and Sick Pay (also now referred to as PTO - paid time off)

Let’s look at each of these individually.


In times of low unemployment as we are in right now, we suggest that you pay at least 10% over the market rate for all your positions, and up to 30% over market for positions that are “low talent availability – meaning those job candidates are HARD to find”.  For now, some of those candidates in Atlanta are experienced bookkeepers, controllers, paralegals, and sales people. For these positions, if you aren’t at 30% over market, you have a large chance of losing people even if you have an incredible culture. is a great place to start your research. If you want a professional analysis of the market rate for the jobs in your company, we can help you with that! 


As you know, bonuses, profit sharing, etc. are great ways to recognize employees for their work.  These can be a big motivator for employees to work harder and cut costs in order to increase profitability.  However, bonus opportunities need to be clearly defined and fairly implemented or they will become a de-motivator and greatly increase employee dissatisfaction.

When you’re working hard to build a certain culture within your company, bonus plans can be a great tool in helping to do that.  Tie in specific behaviors and work habits, etc. that you want to reward on top of results that you want achieved.  This shows your employees that you are serious about creating the culture you talk about and that you are wiling to put money against it to back it up.

Health Benefits

Only about 35% of today’s employees are covered by a spouse’s plan and don’t need health benefits. We know that offering benefits is expensive and can be very difficult for a small business to afford. But with the high cost of an individual getting his/her own plan, benefits comparisons are becoming a huge factor in how candidates evaluate different job opportunities. To make yourself an attractive employer, you may need to find an affordable plan, offer to cover the out of pocket costs for an individual to get their own, or at least offer a stipend toward those costs. 


Most employees feel that this is definitely a “nice to have” and not a necessity.  Note that if you offer a 401k or IRA, that DOES NOT replace the need to pay properly.


Here is where you, as a small business, can make up for not having the highest pay!  Offer more vacation.  Employees are valuing time off, flexible work options (like we talked about in the last post), etc. as much as pay during some seasons of life. Most companies are starting their professional employees at 3 weeks vacation now.  And clients that give 4-5 weeks a year report high work satisfaction and longer tenure.  Although there is an opportunity cost in giving more vacation, it may be more doable for you than offering higher salaries.

A CEO told me the other day that he felt that they had such an awesome culture that people didn’t care if he paid below market and didn’t offer benefits.  I’m concerned about this CEO’s strategy.  This could work for the short-term. But even people working in a great corporate culture need to pay their bills. As the difference between what you pay and what your competitors pay gets larger, your favorite employees might surprise you with a letter of resignation. Don’t let that happen. 

Why don’t you take the next 30 days to evaluate where you are as it relates to Total Comp and take a few steps towards confidence in this area?  I think it will be a great use of your time and perhaps even save your favorite employee. 

The Power of a Flexible Workplace

feedback banner (1).png

“47 percent of people actively looking for new positions say company culture is the main reason” —

Does this make you wonder if you might have some work to do around your office?

A couple of weeks ago, we started a series about simple strategies to improve your work culture.  I’m going to share some of my experiences with the companies who are finding success in creating a great culture. 
#1 – Providing Feedback
(If you missed it, check out the link HERE)

#2 – Providing a Flexible Work Environment
33% of employees would change jobs for one that allowed them to work WHERE they want at least part of the time.  Gallup Survey, It’s the Manager   

So, flexibility is KEY!  What does it mean to have a flexible work environment?  Two things…

  • Flexible Time – Time is the new bargaining chip. People are as interested in more free time as they are in money – especially our millenials! Do you offer a way for your team to work 7am-3pm or 9:30am – 5:30pm? Work 4 ten-hour days instead of 5 days per week? Just allowing this flexibility – and allowing them to shift it when their life changes (not every week – but once in a while) – will make you a valued and appreciated employer and put you ahead of almost every large company in town.

  • Flexible Location – While 100% virtual teams are very difficult, allowing team members to work from home 1-3 days per week has been proven to IMPROVE productivity. People will also actually stay in their jobs totally engaged for longer (and today this means something). From Gallup’s book, "It’s the Manager," “the highest engagement falls in a sweet spot of working remotely three to four days a week." Yes, it is important for managers to be trained on how to manage workers when they are remote, (this needs training and is not easy). It is also important to set expectations for employees and only allow this for employees that have proven to be trustworthy. But for great employees who have a good track record, this can be a win-win scenario. The company gets greater productivity and an engaged worker, and the employee gets to have a day or two without traffic – working in their pajamas with coffee.

Owners who think “I can’t trust my employees. They will be at the movies,” might need to realize that this new way to work is coming – whether you choose to adopt it or not! The old school mentality of requiring everyone to be onsite during the same hours will soon mean that your workplace is dated. “Currently, 60% of companies offer their employees telecommuting opportunities.”  2016 SHRM Benefits Survey.

And, if you choose to be Inflexible, you will have a hard time hiring and retaining top talent. You will be able to get employees, just probably not the BEST ones. Many large companies are still not embracing flexibility, so small employers can beat big employers in the race for great hires just by marketing their FLEXIBILITY!
Maybe you and your management team need to take 15 minutes in the next couple of weeks to determine how you could employ a more flexible work strategy. 

Shorthanded, but Reluctant to Hire?

Do you need help from an additional staff member but do not want to take a financial risk?  Reading this recent AJC article, it is understandable why small businesses are sitting on their needs for more staff, and choosing not to hire. 

“A hoped-for boom in small-company hiring never happened because owners haven't wanted to take on the added risk and expense of more staffers.”  

Has this happened at your company? We understand. We are a small business too! 

A great solution for you may be to hire ON THE INNOVATIVE OUTSOURCING PAYROLL. That is right – we can hire your extra set of hands, and we take on the risk. You just pay hourly for the hours worked. You get the help you need without the long-term risk.  Part time is where this works best, but full time might also be an option depending on the job description. 

For example: 

  • Controller - 10 hours/week

  • HR person - 8 hours/week

  • Bookkeeper - 25 hours/week

  • Executive Assistant to CEO - 20 hours a week

Do any of these sound like something you need?  If so, now is the time! Contact us to get started.

The Year Ahead: What Employers Need to Know

Cindi Filer, CEO of Innovative Outsourcing shares a helpful reference from her legal labor resource who offers this concise reference for the year ahead.

When my legal resource, Eric Magnus, Jackson Lewis, P.C, provided me with this very inclusive reference to the year ahead for employers, I knew that you would benefit from this information, too!  CLICK HERE to read the report.

Employers can expect sweeping changes in the year ahead. Here is of our exclusive outlook, “2017: The Year Ahead for Employers,” an executive summary of key developments in the past year and what employers can expect in the coming months. It is a quick read and ideal for senior management and those responsible for Human Resources.
— Eric Magnus

If you have a need for further legal advice on HR topics, please contact Eric Magnus at Jackson Lewis, P.C.  He can be reached at 404-525-8200.

So Dec 1 is the new April Fools' Day for the Dept. of Labor

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Cindi Filer, CEO of Innovative Outsourcing updates you on a new court ruling that may affect you.

Over the past few months, we have been keeping you up-to-date on the December 1 implementation of the Department of Labor’s White Collar Overtime Exemption, raising the minimum annual wage (salaried or hourly) for overtime exemption to $47,400.  

But it is 2016, and in keeping with the year’s theme of “expect the unexpected,” last week a federal judge blocked the rule, siding with 21 states and an organized business group, siting that the “rule is unlawful and granted their motion for a nationwide injunction,” according to Reutters.

This means that this regulation has been delayed, as the Department of Labor now files an appeal.  In light of the changing political climate, even a successful appeal could be “Trumped” by new legislation, or the incoming Department of Labor may withdraw it all together.

What does this mean for you?

The December 1, 2016 implementation is no longer required, and at this moment, no one really knows what will happen.

What do we recommend?

If you have procrastinated and done nothing, this is one time that you might actually be reaping the reward. Keep an eye open for a new date and possible implementation, but this may never happen.

If you have made pay changes already in anticipation of this, you will need to make a decision to pull back or continue.  Again, we have no way of knowing when (or if) this will be enacted.

Plans for tracking and reporting hours

I know that many of you have put in place a method to report hours for all employees due to this implementation.  My recommendation is to keep this in place. For many reasons, it would be a good idea to have all employees report hours.  It is a safeguard for you in this litigious climate.  And it is also a prudent practice for your employees to view the hours they spend in an ongoing self-evaluation of their time management.

The bottom line

For many businesses like yours, this means you may have earmarked money for overtime that now can be channeled into staff expansion instead.  Consider hiring a part-time employee to help ease the work load of your full-time staff. We have great talent waiting for an opportunity to bring their highly professional skills to work for you part time.  Just give me a call, and we can talk about your specific needs.

So the calendar says December 1, but when it comes to raising the overtime exemption minimum compensation, it feels more like April Fools' Day instead!

Plan now to retain your best talent

Cindi Filer, CEO of Innovative Outsourcing, offers her advice.

Are you worried that your best employee will hand you their resignation? 

If you are, then you are one step ahead of the curve.  A current survey finds that one in three employees in the US is currently looking for a new job.  That’s 1/3 of your workforce and mine. "Not MY employees," you say.  But what if we consider that this may be a reality brewing right under your nose.  And then, let’s figure out what you can do now to retain your best employees.  Over the next few weeks, I'll be sharing some suggestions for retaining your top talent.

IDENTIFY THE CREAM OF THE CROP: The first step is to determine exactly who are your best employees.  Create a three-sheet reference like this: 

  1. EXCELLENT EMPLOYEES - This list should be the top 15% of your work force.  These are the people that you would cry or throw something if they turned in their resignation notice.  They might be the COO or the janitor, but they are good at what they do, and they are great to have around.
  2. WORST EMPLOYEES - This list includes the people that, if they resigned, you would cheer and have a party.  You get rid of them, and you don’t have to pay unemployment!  Hopefully, this list is very small, and your goal is to have no one on this list.  Anyone landing on this list should either be trained, become valuable, and make it off the list, or should be let go (after trying training and with great documentation). 
  3. EVERYONE IN BETWEEN - The majority of your team will land on this list.  These are good employees who get the job done.  You would be sad if they left, but you could likely replace them. 

This week, let's focus on Sheet One. These are your stars. You need to protect them.  Do you have any idea how close they are to leaving?  Evaluate every person named on this sheet, assigning them on a 1 to 10 scale the probability that they will be leaving the company soon.  Next to their leaving-probability rating, write what you perceive that each person values the most, (time off, money, autonomy, encouraging words, etc.)  

Next week, we will start to create a plan for each person. We call these retention plans, a strategy that you make to keep your best employees in this “Candidate-oriented” job market.

In the meantime, please reach out to me with specific staffing issues you need help addressing immediately. I'm here to help!

Plan now for the new overtime regulation

Are you aware that because of new regulations, all hourly and salaried employees earning less than $47,476 per year must be paid overtime for work exceeding 40 hours per week?  The Department of Labor estimates that when this new rule goes into effect December 1, 4.2 million additional employees will be eligible for time-and-a-half when they work over a 40-hour week. The Department of Labor believes this will create an increase in compliance.  Others fear that this will mean an increase in litigation. You can read more about that here.

So how does this affect your company? You must decide how your business will comply.  To help you plan now, I've called upon Eric Magnus, Jackson Lewis, P.C, to provide us with his excellent legal advice.  He outlines three options you must consider now so that by December 1, your business is prepared for compensation adjustments and equipped with time-tracking measures.  Here's Eric's advice: