Adam Bryant, David Reimer

A company’s most powerful cultural signals aren’t communicated by talking points. They’re determined by who gets promoted and who receives outsized rewards. Yet compensation and bonus frameworks in most organizations are still based almost solely upon financial results. In an effort to rule out subjectivity, such plans emphasize — and often focus exclusively on — achieving numerical targets. This oversimplified focus on the what of … [ Read more ]

Incentives for a Strong Leadership Culture

Three key pay and performance metrics can help define and influence an organization’s values.

Bethanye McKinney Blount

Compensation is culture, period. It’s how you pay your people and it’s where the rubber hits the road. It’s the metric you can’t cheat. It’s naive to think that you’re just going to give people money and they’re not going to feel everything that’s attached to it. Pay is incredibly personal and emotionally charged. It directly affects how we live our lives and how we … [ Read more ]

Bethanye McKinney Blount

When you start talking about pay transparency, the first thing everyone thinks is “I’m going to know how much everybody makes.” I think a better way to frame it is “I’m going to understand why I’m paid what I’m paid and how I can increase my comp.” It’s about making sure employees understand their current reality and see a career development path in front of … [ Read more ]

Research: Better-Managed Companies Pay Employees More Equally

Companies that implement more structured management practices pay their employees more equally. We found that companies that reported more structured management practices according to the Management and Organizational Practices Survey (MOPS) paid their employees more equally, as measured by the difference between pay for workers at the 90th (top) and 10th (bottom) percentiles within each firm.

Opening Up About Comp Isn’t Easy — Here’s How to Get More Transparent

As a two-time founder and a seasoned engineering leader, Bethanye McKinney Blount has seen misunderstanding around comp rear its head time and time again. And in her experience, this hesitation to pull back the curtain on paychecks and think more deliberately about a compensation philosophy tends to cause problems down the line as startups scale. In this exclusive interview, Blount tackles the thorny questions startups … [ Read more ]

Forget Cash. Here are Better Ways to Motivate Employees

In today’s tight job market, employers must focus on how to attract and keep top talent. Giving away stacks of money may not always be the best incentive.

Josh Bersin

Much research shows that pay is a “hygiene factor,” not an “engagement factor.” In other words, in most cases if compensation is not high enough, people will leave—but increasing compensation does not directly increase engagement (with certain exceptions).

Unfair — and Unfixable? The Simple Truth About Salaries

Pay differences among workers can hinge on objective matters like experience. But salary disparity is often a function of more arbitrary factors — raising the question of why establishing compensation hasn’t evolved into a more fair, equitable and objective system. How do qualities as intangible and unpredictable as work ethic, creativity and esprit de corps get translated into compensation? Still, there is good reason to … [ Read more ]

Bethanye Blount

When somebody knows that their review is going to directly affect their comp, they are just waiting for you to stop talking and tell them what it says on that piece of paper you’re holding. Simply tell your report from the outset that they won’t be getting their comp change then and there. Then you can open the door for vastly more productive conversations around … [ Read more ]

Bethanye Blount

One of the greatest sources of compensation inequity is that question every candidate dreads: What are you making now? It’s a really common practice, and it compounds a lot of biases. If someone is not a great negotiator, for example, or took a lower salary to work in the nonprofit sector, they’re set up to under-earn for their whole career. The truth is, the last … [ Read more ]

Counterintuitive Comp Tips for the Unwary and Uninitiated

After two decades leading engineering teams for giants like Facebook and EMI to Linden Lab and Reddit, Bethanye Blount realized that the most meaningful, even existential, problems she’d encountered were not in code but in comp — and that there are data-driven best practices for solving them. Now, as co-founder of Compaas, Blount is on a mission to help startups ensure that the story their … [ Read more ]

Are Sales Incentives Becoming Obsolete?

To motivate, manage, and reward B2B salespeople, many companies use sales incentive plans that link large commissions or bonuses to individual results metrics, such as territory quota achievement. As digital channels continue to reduce and redefine salespeople’s role in customer buying, these traditional sales incentive plans are becoming less effective at driving sales outcomes.

The right sales incentive plan creates a double win. Salespeople win because … [ Read more ]

Top Execs Eschew Performance-Based Pay

Professor David Lewin says incentives make sense for all employees.

Boris Ewenstein, Bryan Hancock, Asmus Komm

Since only a few employees are standouts, it makes little sense to risk demotivating the broad majority by linking pay and performance. More and more technology companies, for instance, have done away with performance-related bonuses. Instead, they offer a competitive base salary and peg bonuses (sometimes paid in shares or share options) to the company’s overall performance. Employees are free to focus on doing great … [ Read more ]

Compensation at Startups

In the beginning stages of hiring key talent for an early stage company, an engaged founder may spend anywhere from 40-50% of his or her time recruiting key hires. Having a clear philosophy around compensation and rewards is essential to do this effectively. Additionally, you can benefit from access to up-to-date compensation tools and resources to help hire and retain the best talent.

Homebrew has put … [ Read more ]

re:Work Pay Equity Guide

Designing and auditing fair pay practices are steps organizations everywhere can take to create more equitable workplaces. Check out the re:Work guide on pay equity to learn what you can be doing now.

J. C. de Swaan and Neil W. C. Harper

Since standard stock options don’t differentiate between value created by external factors and individual performance, investors may be shortchanged and CEOs may be rewarded regardless of merit and top-performing CEOs may be penalized if their tenure coincides with a bear market. Indeed, McKinsey research shows that from 1991 to 2000, market and industry factors drove about 70 percent of the returns of individual companies, company-specific … [ Read more ]

Louis V. Gerstner

Too often a company’s executive motivation system flies in the face of strategic decision making. This occurs for two reasons. First, good managers tend to be promoted so fast that they never have to live with the medium- to long-run outcome of their plans. Second, incentive compensation is often tied either to short-term earnings performance or to stock-price movements, neither of which has anything to … [ Read more ]

Benjamin Schneider

I like to say that people come to work for money, but they don’t work hard for money. That’s an overstatement, but you get my point — that managers always want to incentivize everything. I think it’s a cop-out to always focus on money as the key to motivation when we have known for 100 years that it’s not the key once you get beyond … [ Read more ]