The SESCO Report – April 2012


Compensation Surveys: To Guess is Cheap — To Guess Wrong is Expensive

SESCO recommends caution in using "published" surveys and salary data obtained across the Internet. The reasons are obvious:

Are the companies polled/surveyed comparable in size to your own? Big companies, you might know, tend to pay more than small ones. But the size of that disparity tends to be proportional to a job's elevation on the organizational chart.

Is the geographic focus appropriate? Here, the inverse is true. Geography matters little for high level positions and a lot for low level ones.

How were the jobs matched? This is perhaps the key and most important question. A benchmark study is of little value if the jobs in question aren't comparable with one another, and simply matching them by title doesn't do the trick especially in this area of hybrid workers and job titles.

What statistics were used? Many studies report a simple average survey, when in fact a median figure representing the mid-point of the range would be more appropriate. Typically the median is 3% to 5% lower than the average.

How old is the data? In rapidly moving industries, such as technology and healthcare, where salaries for certain jobs can increase significantly within a few months, current information is of the essence.

How many companies were surveyed? Experts say that a survey isn't credible unless it includes at least 20 organizations and discloses a full list of them in its report.

If an organization is interested in benchmarking their current compensation to the market, it is recommended that a "customized" survey be con-ducted. It is well worth the money. A customized survey would include selecting specific organizations with whom you compete for talent, selecting organizations with whom you are like or comparable, and finally identifying positions with subsequent descriptions to ensure that a true "apples to apples" comparison is made.

Subsequently, a customized survey needs to be carefully constructed. SESCO suggests that actual wage data, wages that are currently being paid to incumbents within a position, be obtained.

Requesting general information such as wage scales, high or low percentiles, does not give you a very accurate or complete story. Although this information is important to include hire or max wage rates for a given position, we suggest asking wage survey participants to provide an average actual rate that is currently being paid to all incumbents in the identified position. In this way, we can conduct a very accurate benchmark to what is actually transpiring in the marketplace.

SESCO specializes in compensation administration programs to include conducting wage and benefit surveys on behalf of employers. As your labor costs are your largest, single controllable cost and is the difference between being profitable or not, it's critical that compensation be actively managed.


SESCO's Tips for First-Time Managers

SESCO has been developing leaders since 1945. Our initial focus in developing professional and competent leaders, especially frontline supervisors, was in response to union activity. As we all know, unions just don't happen. When there is a void of effective leadership and communication, a vacuum is created and the union seeks to fill the void.

From these early years of practical, hands-on field consulting and running very successful union avoidance/union awareness campaigns, SESCO became a leader in developing managers and supervisors.

Today, our toolbox is full of leader-ship development and training programs — from "A to Z." Whether it be public seminars, in-house training, selling training programs for in-house use and training the trainer, our toolbox is extremely professional and effective.

From our experience, we offer the following tips for first-time managers:

1. Accept that you still have much to learn. You will have worked hard for your promotion and have ample expertise in your chosen field, but you may find that you lack self-confidence in your ability to lead. Be prepared to learn from others including your new team.

2. Communicate clearly. Always keep your team fully informed of project goals, priorities, and those all-important deadlines. Effective communication will be essential in both establishing our credibility and gaining the support of your team, so be sure to provide clear direction and always welcome questions and feedback from others.

3. Set a good example. Demand from yourself the same level of professionalism and dedication that you expect from others. If you expect the team to be upbeat and friendly, then make sure you are! If you expect written reports to be error free, then double check your own work!

4. Encourage feedback. Sometimes employees are unwilling to speak up about certain issues unless they are prompted. Canvass for opinions on issues such as support, training, and resources while maintaining an open door policy so that your team knows that you are willing to listen to their concerns and ideas as well as help provide solutions to any problems.

5. Offer recognition. By publicly recognizing the efforts and achievements of your team, you not only build up their confidence, but also encourage future contributions and effort. Praise does not always have to be formal praising employees can be part of your day-to-day communication with your team.

6. Be decisive. A quality leader needs to make decisions and stick to them. People do not feel comfortable with someone who changes his or her mind. You only have to look at public opinion on government U-turns to see how easily confidence in a leader can be weakened or lost altogether.

7. Help your team see the "big picture." Take time out to explain to your team how their assignments and projects fit into the company's larger goals and overall objectives. This will help demonstrate that every task they complete can have an impact on the company's reputation, success and bottom line.

8. Create an environment of constant learning and development and include yourself in this process. Encourage your team to explore new methods for reaching their individual goals and those set by the company. Allow them to make and learn from mistakes and be sure to reward new and innovative ideas.

9. Provide professional guidance. A good manager and leader will also be a mentor. Make yourself avail-able to staff members and show interest in their career development within the company. Don't overlook the motivational power of positive reinforcement your staff will appreciate your commitment to their progress.

10. Be patient with yourself. Developing strong managerial skills takes time especially as you adjust to your new position. Seek guidance from colleagues, your line manager, or your professional network when you need it. In doing so you will enhance your leadership abilities and make strides toward becoming a great manager.

If you are interested in coaching, counseling and developing a single leader or developing your entire leadership team, feel free to visit our website and view our training programs and options, or simply call your SESCO consultant to discuss a customized program meeting your needs and expectations.


"Interactive Process" Required by EEOC Before Terminating Employees

The EEOC has been pursuing employers not utilizing the "interactive process" that is required by the Americans with Disabilities Act as Amended.

Before any employee is separated due to exhausting Family and Medical Leave (12 weeks) or exhausting sick and/or vacation leave (for employers less than 50 employees), the EEOC requires the employer to engage in a communicative/interactive discussion with the employee to determine if there are any accommodations that can be made to work with the employee and keep them on payroll. This interactive communications process has created on-going, difficult challenges for employers trying to staff and maintain service and production requirements and standards.

To ensure compliance, SESCO offers the following advice:

When talking to employees before separation, SESCO suggests, "We would like to talk to you about your options with our company and continued employment."

When considering a reasonable accommodation expressed by the employee, talk to others within the organization in addition to the direct supervisor or manager. Typically managers respond "no" to any accommodation request.

Challenge physicians who want to keep extending leaves. If the doctor can't say that the employee will return at some point, the employee is probably not a "qualified individual" for the purposes of reasonable accommodation.

If and when you make an accommodation, like new hours or new duties or allocating job functions across other employees, make the accommodation conditional. A statement to the employee would be, "We're not sure this accommodation (new hours, new duties, etc.) will work, but we are going to give it a try."

Employers must be prepared to show an EEOC investigator or jury that they went through the interactive process. Be sure to:

- Solicit the employee's ideas as to what accommodations might work.

- Have a discussion with the employee to discuss the options.

- Visit with others who know the job to explore possible accommodations.

- Document all as above.

In summary, the key before any sepa-ation is to ask yourself:

1. Is the separation due to the employee's medical condition and subsequent exhaustion of FMLA or other policies/benefits as provided? If so, continue to number two (2).

2. The employer must engage in an interactive communications discussion with the employee prior to termination to determine if there are any accommodations that could be made to avoid separation.

3. What is reasonable to one may not be reasonable to another. Reason-able is not well defined by the EEOC and the ADAAA and as such, employers need to show that they have considered many options and alternatives prior to termination.

4. Always show compassion to the employee if separation is the ultimate decision and document all communications and actions.

For more information on the interactive process, SESCO has produced a free whitepaper for SESCO clients and in addition, SESCO publishes forms and policies to be utilized in ensuring compliance.


SESCO Client Feedback

"Bill is well informed in all the aspects, answers questions promptly. SESCO is a very professional team, always willing to help and provide information." ~ Jackie Maldonado, QI-HR Manager -Greater Prince William Community Health Center

"I like working with Bill and Joel. Everyone is so professional — yet down to earth — able to communicate on various levels. They all have vast knowledge!Able to answer my questions quickly. We are reassured and confident with the services and advice provided by SESCO. SESCO is great!" ~ Jane B. O'Conner, Director of Human Resources — Clinical Management Concepts

"Jamie is very dedicated to helping our business run efficiently as possible. She always returns phone calls/emails quickly. Jamie is very friendly and down to earth; very easy to work with. SESCO is a great company! Very helpful.
" ~ Shana Krapovicky, HR Manager — Wilson Auto Group, Inc.

From Effective Leader/Manager attendees:

"Jamie Hasty is a great facilitator — loved how engaged Jamie had the
group; enjoyed discussions and case studies. As a manager, I learned some awesome methods that I will immediately put to use. Also loved the materials, location and meals. Best seminar I have ever been to."

"Materials were great. Instructor presented material well. Great class discussions. I also loved the major award at the end!"

"The handouts are fantastic and will be excellent reference tools after."

"Jamie was very easy to listen to and made it interesting."

SESCO Client Inquiry — Staff Response

Question: We are considering hiring students to work this summer. What sorts of things do we need to take into account?

Answer: Generally speaking, minors under the age of 14 should not be employed by private, non-agricultural businesses. States usually regulate the time of work and the maximum hours of work for minors under the age of 16. Also, minors are normally guaranteed an unpaid meal period after a certain number of continuous hours worked. You may be required to get a work certificate or an age certificate. Minors under 18 are not allowed to perform certain jobs that are considered hazardous in nature. Finally, employers are required to post child labor notices and keep an accurate account of the minor's daily time worked to include unpaid meal periods. It is recommended that you check on the specifics of child labor regulations in your state prior to hiring persons under the age of 18.


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Special Thanks to New SESCO Clients!

Tennessee Automotive Association
Nashville, TN

M.C. Dixon Lumber Company
Eufaula, AL

Bialek Environments
Rockville, MD

Rustburg Family Pharmacy
Rustburg, VA