June 14, 2021

Pent-up demand for classification and compensation studies leads to shortage in market

By Rick Labib-Wood, EH&A Senior Associate

So, you want a class and comp study? Be careful what you ask for; you may get it. This looks like the season for them and for some very good and not very surprising reasons.

There seems to be a pent-up demand. Business as usual became pretty much a back burner issue (maybe even put into the refrigerator) during the unavoidable rush mode for handling pandemic-related, get-it-figured-out-now stuff (a technical term) that is only just starting to recede a bit for schools (we all hope). And now, there may be a new infusion of funds to at least pay for the work of the study and maybe even for some implementation of results.

That urgent climate during COVID meant lots of employees had to pivot and do new kinds of things or do the familiar things with new precautions in place that required adaptation and rethinking of how and why – a test of strong, flexible leadership and a committed and dedicated workforce. And classified employees stepped up and made things happen. But what will be the COVID residue as operations attempt to return to “normal?”

The caution is whether (1) the different tasks assigned during the pandemic will remain a part of jobs in the post-pandemic era, and (2) whether those differences, if they continue forward, constitute a substantial change in the job’s scope, complexity, responsibility, or other job-differentiating factors at play in a district-specific classification plan. Moreover, these issues remain at play along with a number of other new trends affecting the compensation landscape as we enter the third decade of this century.

As recently as mid-2019 only a few months before the pandemic and ensuing lockdowns, among the top seven emerging compensation trends, according to Lauren Busey and Larry P. Daniels at Milliman, were total rewards, employee financial wellness and well-being, and pay equity. Now, less than two years later and post-pandemic, Sambhav Rakyan, in an article for InSights an HR monthly magazine, sees a shift in the top compensation priorities: restructuring pay for remote working, differentiating rewards for critical digital talent, protecting employee data, and measuring return-on-investment (ROI) on compensation spending by “…evaluating compensation actions holistically rather than by individual programs … to improve an organization’s understanding of their cumulative impact.”

At EH&A / MGT Consulting we can readily do what Yogi Berra called “It’s déjà vu all over again” and perform traditional school-district-oriented, high quality class and comp studies that engage employees in the process and yield results that are perceived to be transparent, relevant, inclusive and reasonably fair. At the same time, we want to encourage our clients to take a fresh look at their approaches to compensation, pausing long enough to determine if they want more of the same or if instead this is a time to try on new approaches to an age-old question, recalling that Yogi also said “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.”

If you are interested in discussing a management study or a classification and compensation review in a specific department or across your district, please contact us. We can discuss a strategy with you on how a study can be conducted with employee engagement but with minimal disruption to effectively implement the necessary and equitable changes in job descriptions and compensation.

For more information, contact our Human Resources Practice Group Leader and Senior Associate Rick Labib-Wood at rick@ehanda.com or at 760.815.2098.