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New Year’s Resolution (Early Edition)

New Year’s Resolution (Early Edition)

Is it ever too early to start thinking about the New Year?  Especially after the year we’ve had (2020!)??  In most cases, I’d probably say yes, September is way too early. But this time, I’m looking forward to a New Year.

And with the thought of a New Year, who doesn’t start thinking about New Year’s resolutions?  A resolution (loosely defined here for my purposes) is something we think could make change for the positive, something we’ve always been meaning to do but never quite got around to.  A report I read said these were the top 10 New Year’s resolutions for 2020:

  1. Actually doing my New Year’s resolution
  2. Trying something new
  3. Eat more of my favorite foods
  4. Lose weight/diet
  5. Go to the gym
  6. Be happier/better mental health
  7. Be more healthy
  8. Be a better person
  9. Upgrade my technology
  10. Staying motivated

It’s the same list most every year, although I’d hazard a guess that the list might look a little different after having survived 2020.  Might even mention toilet paper.

What about your work resolutions?  If you are a compensation professional, resolutions for work should always include basic yet important resolutions to continue to learn and grow in the profession.  And then there is the ongoing list (referring back to my definition of resolution) of things we’ve been meaning to do but just never got around to.

Here is my HR/Compensation New Year’s Resolution list for 2021, and just maybe a few things that might apply to the end of 2020 as well.

  1. Focus on ways to make good programs even better.

This may include short- and long-term incentive plan designs, but if your programs are already working as planned then consider how effectively are they communicated – are you getting credit with your employees for what you offer?

Secondly, can your average manager effectively communicate Total Rewards?  If they haven’t been trained, would you expect them to be able to just because they are good at engineering or marketing?

  1. Pay attention to the changing legal and social landscape.

Pay equity is an evolving topic and worthy of your time, attention and priority.  Although all states don’t have pay equity laws yet, all it would take would be a majority vote in your legislature and a like-thinking governor to get your attention.  I speak from experience.

  1. Benchmark something.

A pretty generic statement, but when was the last time you checked to see how competitive your shift-pay differential was?  What percentage of employees can be rated in the top category?  If your pay structures were competitive?  The list is long.

  1. Use Total Rewards statements.

Who of us hasn’t thought about trying to convince employees they are well-compensated, especially in the “hidden paycheck?”  Takes a pretty good data base and good internal and external partnerships though.  You’ll never get it done unless you start asking those partners what their capabilities might be.  And planning, planning, planning.

  1. Get more involved in sales compensation plans.

Sales compensation can be a mystery if you’ve never been involved or immersed in it before.  Might this be a good time – thinking about the new year – to offer to be involved?  If you aren’t confident to take it on you can at least offer market data and be a part of the team.  Sales executives actually value your market data, especially when trying to understand how to pay their best performers.

  1. Write Job Descriptions.

Really?  Job descriptions?  Isn’t that last on everyone’s list – ever?  Just because we don’t enjoy the work doesn’t mean there isn’t value in it though.  Ask anyone who has had to match jobs in salary surveys, write recruitment ads, defend lawsuits, etc. (Besides, it will improve your creative writing skills which you will use throughout your career.)

  1. Write or review policies and processes.

Policies don’t write themselves, unless there are no policies (wow, that was profound).  A policy should be a statement of your intent when it comes to something, plus some explanation.  For example, how do sales people get paid when they are on a LOA.  Usually involves some internal discussion/debate to figure it out, but then you can execute consistently.

Processes are a little different in my mind, generally speaking to benefit you or your team to be able to replicate an approach, an analysis or such.  For example, how is market pricing done – weighting of surveys, how to match blended jobs, etc. 

In my experience, larger companies can generally get these sorts of resolutions knocked out because they have larger staffs that might be able to team up and knock something out.  Medium and smaller companies may be not – maybe you need a hand to take that new ground this year, check that resolution off the list for good.  So try something new — we at Alliance Compensation can help with your list. We have the experience, expertise, and work with excellence to get you your desired results.

And best of all, you don’t have to diet OR go to the gym!


Jim Harvey is a Managing Partner with Alliance Compensation LLC ( , a team of seasoned experts and a trusted solution for clients across the Western US in public and private companies. He has over 35 years of experience in corporate leadership roles and consulting, and lives with his wife and three dogs in Sherwood, OR.

Is it ever too early to start thinking about the New Year?  Especially after the year we’ve had (2020!)??  In most cases, I’d probably say yes, September is way too early. But this time, I’m looking forward to a New Year. And with the thought of a New Year, who doesn’t start thinking about New […]

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