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Using - If Only Because Employees Do

Early on, the medium-sized company Air Products opted for a Web-based solution to help in determining salaries.

December 20, 2000
Related Topics: Compensation Design and Communication, Internet
Bernie Rodgers admits he checks out Salary.comevery so often, too, but not as a salary benchmarking tool. “I know many ofour employees will be out there looking at it,” says the manager ofcompensation planning for Air Products North America, part of chemical and gasesgiant Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. The Allentown, Pennsylvania-based companyhas $5 billion in annual revenues and 17,000-plus employees in 30 countries.

    In his role with AirProducts, Rodgers designs programs and sets guideline benchmarks for thecompany’s competitive compensation salary programs. Divisional HR managers inturn carry out much of the day-to-day administration and planning.

    Early on, Air Products optedfor a Web-based solution to help in determining salaries. That solution comes inpart from the Hay Group and its subscription online compensation database, The reliability of the data and its accessibility and convenienceare the big reasons for using it, says Rodgers. The cost for PayNet ranges from$2,500 to $7,500, depending on the country involved.

    By fiscal 2001, Air Productswill be using Hay PayNet in a number of countries, including the United States,Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Spain, Portugal, and Korea. Basically, the system is anonline compensation survey database that allows the user to look at benchmarkjobs and see the results by pay line, whether it’s by function or salary gradelevel. “It’s more convenient and very flexible in the sense that instead ofhaving a bunch of three-ring binders floating around my office, once you getused to understanding how to use the Internet approach, it’s online andavailable so the information is there at your fingertips virtually,” saysRodgers. Because the database is so big, however, it takes a few sessions ofworking with it to fully understand how to use it, he adds.

    Like many of his counterpartsat smaller companies, Rodgers counts on multiple surveys. He likes Hay andTowers Perrin because, he says, both have quality organizations that put thesame effort into their Internet databases as in their published reports. Also,different consultants seem to have better approaches to different aspects of themarket. Rodgers likes Hay for the flexibility in allowing a user to slice anddice the database. He can select a particular job, then pull up data on a singleindustry or multiple industries by geographic locations or company sizes andmore. He uses the Towers Perrin surveys to focus on management analysis. AnotherTowers Perrin database survey, for example, actually helps him to look at wholejob families like Air Products’ finance family. The survey comparesentry-level, career mid-level, and high-level individual contributors.

    Rodgers is a bit wary of adhoc salary surveys from many professional organizations that are published onthe Web and appear on the surface to be fairly authoritative. “You can get alot of free information from the Internet, but you don’t always get a verygood explanation of the approaches that they have taken to compile the data andwhat they’ve done to ensure quality control.”

    And the surveys are just oneaspect of setting competitive salaries. Other factors include total compensationpackages in line with Air Products’ business strategies, as well as trendsinside and outside the industry. 

    The biggest advantage ofusing the Internet in the entire process, says Rodgers, is the time savings. Hedoesn’t have the time to dig through binders of information and do manualanalysis. And in the time it would take to contact a consultant for ad hocmarket pricing requests, he can log on to the database and extract the datahimself. He’s also looking at broader outsourcing of the process. But even ifthat were to happen, some internal work would still have to be done for a clearunderstanding of what a job at Air Products entails, and how it compares with asurvey benchmark job. Rodgers says: “You want to be sure you are talkingapples and apples.”

Workforce,January 2001, Vol 80, No 1, pp. 92-93  SubscribeNow!

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