GB520 Unit4 Case Study

GB520 Unit4 Case Study

Student Workbook – Case Study Introduction to Compensation and Designing a Pay Structure

Compensation is a critical area of human resource (HR) management, and one that can greatly affect employee behavior. To be effective, compensation must be perceived by employees as fair, competitive in the market, accurately based, motivating and easy to understand.

HR professionals might create the pay structure for their organization, or they might work with an external compensation consultant. There are several steps to designing a pay structure: job analysis; job evaluation; pay survey analysis; pay policy development; and pay structure formation. Each step is briefly explained below. For a more extensive discussion, please review Milkovich & Newman, 2008.

Step 1: Job Analysis

Job analysis is the process of studying jobs in an organization. The outcome of this process is a job description that includes the job title, a summary of the job tasks, a list of essential tasks and responsibilities, and a description of the work context. Also included are the knowledge, skills and abilities needed to perform the job.

Step 2: Job Evaluation

Job evaluation is the process of judging the relative worth of jobs in an organization. The outcome of job evaluation is the development of an internal structure or hierarchical ranking of jobs. Job-based evaluation is used more often than person-based evaluation, and so the former will be the focus in this case. There are three methods of job-based evaluation: the point method (which is the most commonly used); ranking; and classification. Job evaluation helps to ensure that pay is internally aligned and perceived to be fair by employees.

Step 3: Pay Policy Identification

Pay policy identification is the process of determining whether the organization wants to lead, lag or meet the market in compensation. The pay policy or strategy will likely influence employee attraction and retention. Pay policies can vary across job families (i.e., groups of similar jobs) and job levels if the top management feels that different strategies can be effective in different areas of the organization.

Step 4: Pay Survey Analysis

Pay survey analysis is the process of analyzing compensation data gathered from other employers in a survey of the relevant labor market. Gathering external pay data (e.g., base pay, bonuses, stock options and benefits) is essential to keep the organization’s compensation externally competitive within its industry. Employee attraction and retention can be improved by maintaining externally aligned pay structures.

Step 5: Pay Structure Creation

Pay structure creation is the final step, in which the internal structure (Step 2) is merged with the external market pay rates (Step 4) in a simple regression to develop a market pay line. Depending on whether the organization wants to lead, lag or meet the market, the market pay line can be adjusted up or down. To complete the pay structure, pay grades and pay ranges are developed.

In this case, you will design a pay structure using a case scenario and integrated application.

©2008 SHRM Lisa Burke, Ph.D., SPHR

Designing A Pay Structure


You are the newly hired human resource (HR) director for an engineering consulting firm that is expanding its operations to Chattanooga, Tenn. The organization is headquartered in Indianapolis, Ind. Based on the organization’s mission statement, you know the firm strives to create customized and technically proficient electrical engineering plans for regional clients. The following personnel are required to start the Chattanooga operation (the numbers in parentheses indicate the number of positions):

• Director of regional operations

• Assistant to the director of operations

• Operations analyst (2)

• Operations trainee

• HR director (this is you)

• Administrative assistant in HR

• Benefits manager

• Benefits counselor

• Payroll assistant

• Lead engineer (3)

• Engineer (6)

• Engineering associate for special projects

• Manager of information systems

• Senior information systems analyst

• Information systems analyst

• Security guard

• Front desk receptionist

You can see from the list that there are several job families, including operations, HR, engineering, information systems and office support. You can now begin the process of designing a pay structure for the organization.

Job analysis is central to many HR functions, including compensation, recruiting and training. You need to understand what tasks, duties and responsibilities various jobs will entail before you can assign fair and competitive pay rates.

Begin the process by gathering the needed job description information. To do so, combine information from O*NET (, an online job analysis resource developed by the Department of Labor, and existing internal corporate HR documents (such as previous job descriptions). Each job description includes the job title; a job summary; essential job tasks; the job’s work context; and job-relevant knowledge and skills that an incumbent must possess.

Benchmark jobs (jobs that are common and consistent across a wide range of employers) will be the focus of this exercise, because they will be used to design the pay structure. Appendix A contains the job descriptions of the benchmark jobs. You have one description left to complete; your first task is to create a job description for the benefits manager position.

48 ©2008 SHRM Lisa Burke, Ph.D., SPHR

Learning Objectives

In this case, students will learn to design a pay structure. To do so, you will:

• Write a job description, using the

O*NET website.

• Use the point method to conduct a job evaluation.

• Analyze pay survey data for benchmark jobs.

• Create a market pay line using Excel.

• Establish a pay policy line based on a pay level strategy.

• Create pay grades.

• Establish pay ranges.

Recommended Reading

Milkovich, G., and Newman, J. (2008). Compensation. McGraw- Hill Irwin. Chapters 1-8.


Designing A Pay Structure

» Task A: Create a complete job description for the Benefits Manager position using O*NET.

To design a pay structure, there must be a formal way to value the work inside the organization so that pay is awarded fairly. The job evaluation process will help develop this internal work hierarchy.

Different evaluation methods, pay strategies, and pay structures will be used for different job families in the organization. You decide to use a job-based evaluation approach for the operations, office support, and HR job families. A skills-based approach will be used for information systems and engineering job families, although it is not included as a task in this case. The security guard and director of regional operations jobs will be assigned pay rates primarily using market pricing and slotted later into the pay structure.

Company representatives from various job levels and families will periodically provide you with input during the job evaluation process. This will help you gain acceptance of the established job structure. You ask this job evaluation committee whether they agree with the specific benchmark jobs identified in the job analysis step (see below).

Office Support Operations HR

HR Director

Assistant to the director of operations Director of regional operations *Benefits manager

*Admin assistant (HR) *Operations analyst Benefits counselor

*Front desk receptionist Operations trainee *Payroll assistant

* Benchmark job.

The committee studies the various job titles and asks why the administrative assistant in HR is not included in the HR job family. You explain that administrative assistants perform similar tasks across departments and do not handle functional-specific tasks (e.g., HR). You suggest grouping the front-line administrative jobs in a separate job family called office support. The other job families that will be evaluated are operations and HR.

You decide to use the point method for job evaluation for operations, HR, and office support job families because it is the most commonly used job evaluation method. Next, the compensable factors, degrees and weights of each factor must be determined. With input from the job evaluation committee and your knowledge of the organization’s mission and work content, three common compensable factors are selected: skill, responsibility and effort, each having two specific sub-factors. For example, the compensable factor of skill is comprised of education level and the degree of technical skills.

You recommend weighting the skill compensable factor at 50 percent because the organization is very knowledge-intensive and depends heavily on its human capital. Responsibility is weighted 30 percent because each job has the potential to affect other jobs; and effort is assigned 20 percent because problem solving and task complexity are integral across jobs in the organization.

©2008 SHRM Lisa Burke, Ph.D., SPHR 49

Four degrees should be sufficient for rating the various jobs. For example, the four degrees for education level are identified as:

1=High School/GED 2=Associates 3=Bachelors 4=Masters/Graduate

Points are then calculated by multiplying the degrees by the weights.

You present an example of how this point scheme is applied to the front desk receptionist benchmark job (see below). The committee agrees with the approach.

Compensable Factor Job evaluation for front desk receptionist

Degree (1, 2, 3, 4) Weight Points

Skill (50%)

-Education Level 1 25% 25

-Degree of Technical Skills 1 25% 25

Responsibility (30%)

-Scope of Control 1 10% 10

-Impact of Job 2 20% 40

Effort (20%)

-Degree of Problem Solving 1 10% 10

-Task Complexity 1 10% 10

120 points

The next task is to calculate the job evaluation points for the remaining benchmark jobs using the established compensable factors and specified weights above. In other words, the degrees of each remaining benchmark job must be determined based on a logical rationale, and then the total job evaluation points for each benchmark job can be calculated. To do so, consult the job descriptions in Appendix A.

GB520 Unit4 Case Study