Why Do Companies Pay Cost of Living, Not What the Job is Worth? [Reader Question]

Another reader question today, this time on compensation. If you have questions you can always email ben@upstarthr.com and we’ll fit it into the queue if possible!

Why do companies pay employees by cost of living of the city/country that the employee is working from rather than the cost/value of the work? Can employees game this system to earn more money?

This is an interesting question, but the truth is it’s not either/or–it’s both. Employers must consider both internal equity and external/market equity when building a compensation structure.

Employers pay what the job is worth, or they will never be able to hire anyone. Try offering a software engineer $10,000 a year and see if they want to work for you. This is about internal value and equity–what value does this job have to the firm relative to other jobs? There’s a general hierarchy in terms of pay rates, which is why an administrative assistant earns less than the CEO.  Continue reading

6 Surefire Strategies to Recognize Remote Employees

award-3741918_1280Remote employees are becoming more and more common in the modern workplace. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly a quarter of US employees do some or all of their work from home.

While the trend is positive across virtually all industries, it’s particularly common in certain fields. For instance, more than 50% of technology workers report spending some time working remotely, while the number of employees working remotely in the healthcare sector is substantially less.

Given the shift toward remote work, many companies are now asking themselves how best to keep employees feeling engaged and recognized from afar. The task is daunting, as many of the typical one-off opportunities that managers used to take when recognizing team members don’t naturally present themselves in an environment with distributed employees.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to more effectively engage and recognize remote team members:

  1. Make Time for Real Conversations

Messaging tools like Slack are great for quick questions, but encouraging real conversation makes a big difference. Not only is much of communication about inflection, facial expression, etc – but conversations, whether over the phone or through video chat, encourage folks to ‘check in’ on each other more generally. These pleasantries can feel like inefficient uses of time, but in fact, they provide a crucial opportunity for employees to connect and recognize each other.

  1. Support Continuing Education

Employees who work remotely often have less built in access to training and educational opportunities than someone working from headquarters. One way to truly show your remote employees that you are invested in their development is to provide them high quality access to online learning opportunities. One example is Udemy for Business, which gives employees access to a set of educational courses to complete on their own time.

  1. Offer Mentoring Opportunities

Mentorship relationships often occur naturally in traditional workplaces. However, that’s often not the case in workplaces with substantial number of remote employees. Consider being more prescriptive with a mentorship program if you have a substantive remote workforce, surveying junior employees about they type of mentorship connections they would appreciate and then proactively connecting them with senior members of your organization.

  1. Recognize Special Occasions

There are key times to remind someone they are valued, such as birthdays, work anniversaries, onboardings and farewells. For these occasions, consider replacing the paper card that’s passed around and signed in a traditional workplace with an online group card for employee recognition. With Kudoboard, for instance, colleagues spread across the globe can add messages, pictures, videos or GIFs onto a collaborative card to celebrate a recipient’s special occasion.

  1. Surprise Them

Ever wonder why gambling is so popular (even though the odds are often bad)? It’s the psychological concept known as intermittent, variable rewards. In other words, an occasional surprise reward to recognize an employee’s efforts can make a big difference. We’d rarely recommend that a manager be more unpredictable; however, using this strategy judiciously by being a bit creative about when you provide a boost can be surprisingly motivating.

  1. Bring Everyone Together

Remote workforces are a tremendous asset. However, there’s nothing that can replace an in-person gathering to foster connections and make recognition feel real. No matter how committed you are to a remote workforce, consider some regular cadence (quarterly, bi-annually, etc.) to bring your employees together to ensure that a cohesive culture continues to thrive.


We’re Only Human 51: IBM #Think2019 with Special Guest Madeline Laurano

Last week Ben and his closest 40,000 friends visited San Francisco for the 2019 IBM Think Conference. The event, despite the rainy weather, was a smashing success. HR Track sessions were standing room only and the customer panels, featuring world leading firms such as UnitedHealth Group and AECOM, were fantastic. 

In this episode, Ben is joined by Madeline Laurano of Aptitude Research to talk about the event and some of the key takeaways from the event. Additionally, Madeline digs into some of her new research on quality of hire and how to measure it. 

IBM announced some major partnerships last week, but one of them is a new partnership with Skillsoft to bring the best of content and IBM’s talent frameworks together. The announcement link below shares insights into how this is working for Sprint and some of the other pertinent details. 

Resources mentioned in the episode: 

7 Reasons to Hire an Executive Search Firm

business-3152586_960_720One of the best ways of ensuring you have the best professionals working for you is by hiring an executive search firm. The firm provides top-notch talent by making a detailed inquiry into all potential candidates that would work for you. However, that’s not the only function of search companies.

Usually, the organizations also act as an intermediary between a company and executive. In this manner, they help to negotiate deals between the two parties. They also make it easier for executives to move from one company to another.

With the growth of the digital sector, there is an increased need for highly skilled professionals who are both competent in several areas including business planning and governance. So, recruiting companies are more likely to hire executive firms to assist in this intricate process of finding the right executive.

So, why should you consider hiring an executive search firm? Here are 7 reasons why you should have an executive hiring firm in your company.

1. Save time and money

Before hiring an employee, you generally have to go through CVs. This can take a lot of time. Companies usually scan-read a lot of CVs when hiring. This can make you miss many important details. This can be disastrous, especially if you want to hire an executive for a top position.

Search firms make sure they make a detailed analysis of each executive. However, if you want to save yourself a lot of time or don’t know how to craft your resume, you can find a cheap essay writing service for such needs. Finding highly talented employees saves you money because you will have increased productivity.

2. HR may not understand the role

Sometimes, your internal team may not understand the full responsibilities that a certain executive has to perform. This then makes it difficult for them to hire the appropriate person. The internal team will not be able to:

  • Define the needed parameters,
  • Recruit skilled professionals,
  • Make correct decisions.

Search firms, on the other hand, have the knowledge needed when hiring for a specific position. So, you are more likely to get the right person than when you hire on your own.

3. The position is new

Hiring a person for a new position can be challenging. This is largely due to the fact that there is no benchmark that you can use as a reference. In such situations, you will need a skilled firm that knows all the necessary requirements for the new role in your company. The same applies when you want to change a position that might not have been successful.

4. Maintain relationships with partners and competitors

When you hire through a third party, you avoid potential conflicts that may arise between you and your competitors. The truth is that all companies want the best executives working for them, so this can mean having to fight for an executive who is very skilled. Doing so can cause a rift between you and other companies which may put you at an advantage. Search firms are impartial and discrete making the hiring process less complicated.

5. Access to highly skilled executives

If you are having a hard time finding the right person for a position in your company, then it’s time to consider hiring a search firm. Most search firms have many contacts across various industries. This makes it easier for them to find an executive who would fulfill the responsibilities of the vacancy in your company. Not only do they have a lot of contacts but high quality is also guaranteed.

6. The need for long-term employees

When you want to hire someone to work for you, you not only want the person to have the required skills. You want the person to be a long-term employee, especially if the person is highly skilled and sort after by others companies. One of the ways to tell if a search company is successful is by looking at the success of employees. Another criterion is the longevity of employees.

So, making sure you have long-term employees is a priority of search companies. Executive hiring firms have the ability to recognize candidates that will help you to achieve success.

7. When discretion is not an option

There are times when you might need to find a replacement for a position in your company. You want to do so with full discretion, especially when the position you want to be filled is still occupied by another person. Secrecy gives you the ability to control the hiring process. The best way to ensure discretion is through a search company.

In conclusion, poor employee choices can lead to reduced turnover which can be disastrous for your company. To avoid running into such problems, it’s best to use hiring companies that are specialized to find you highly skilled executives. In doing so, you will be securing a bright future for your company.






disrupthr hsv

#DisruptHR HSV 2.0 is Coming April 2019

TL;DR version: DisruptHR HSV is coming back to Huntsville! See links below for details. Early bird tickets available through March 31st.


It all started with an event. A real, no-kidding live event. Back in 2009 I had just started blogging, and a friend and I set up a mini conference as a way to get people together, expand relationships, and learn together. Little did I know how far my career and life would come in ten short years. The point is that live events create special bonds and connections. They offer chances to learn and grow, sure, but they also create a space where likeminded people can connect with each other, support each other, and learn from each other. Every time one of those connections happens, I like to think that the profession that I know and love gets just a little bit better and brighter.

Fast forward to August 2018. Kristina Minyard, a different friend of 10+ years, cohosted an event with me in Huntsville, Alabama, called DisruptHR HSV. DisruptHR events happen all around the globe, and we wanted to bring the innovation to our own local community. We’ve done this in many ways—we both speak locally, we both volunteer with our local HR chapter, and we are both avid advocates for better HR practices. But we wanted to take it a step further with a dedicated event.

To be honest I didn’t know what to expect. I hoped that we would sell 75 tickets and have a fun night to remember, but I didn’t know if we would do it again. It’s expensive. It’s a lot of work.

Then it happened. And I was totally blown away.

We sold out of tickets several times, were moved to the biggest space in the event facility, and eventually topped out at around 150 people in attendance.

The speakers for this event really made it, though. Some of them were experts, some of them were newbies, but all of them got up there and delivered five minutes of thought-provoking content to help the audience think differently about themselves, their work, and their lives.

We had a handful of amazing sponsors to help us cover the costs, and we are forever thankful for their support.
disrupthr shirts
Why the reminiscing? Well, because the event was such a success, Kristina and I have decided to host DisruptHR HSV 2.0 on Thursday, April 18th, 2019. Tickets are on sale here, and because our shirts were so popular we are selling shirts at cost with your ticket purchase to help spread the message. Speaker submissions are open for a little while longer. Sponsors should reach out to me about our new packages to reach this influential audience–we have increased the branding and reach from last year to help our sponsor partners have even more value.

We even had attendees come from Atlanta and Birmingham last year, because this event is one that you can’t find just anywhere else.

I hope to see you in April. Early bird tickets are available for a little while longer. Get them while you can!


We’re Only Human 50: Hitting a Milestone (Plus Special Guests)

Welcome to our 50th episode! In today’s show Ben takes a different approach with a solo show to catch up on some happenings at Lighthouse Research, some of the key activities coming up on the research agenda, and some personal reflections now that the book is out in the market. Listen in to hear from a handful of special guests that are very “close” to the show.

This is a lighthearted discussion to celebrate 50 episodes and to highlight fun topics coming down the line in the coming months. Check it out and be sure to subscribe and share with your HR friends!

We’re Only Human 49: New Research On Diversity and Inclusion Technology

Talking about D&I is nothing new for HR leaders, but what are you actually doing to measure and improve your firm’s approach? For some time the need was there to help people see why diversity mattered, but now the conversation has shifted to how to improve results. 

In today’s discussion, Ben talks with Stacia Garr of Red Thread Research and Carole Jackson of Mercer to explore the duo’s latest research on diversity and inclusion technology in hiring, development, analytics, and more. 

If your firm is thinking about D&I from a practical standpoint, today’s discussion is for you. 

Learn more about the report and the research by visiting: http://info.mercer.com/dandItech