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Total Compensation in the Age of Cholera

Total Compensation in the Age of Cholera

by Frank Roche on November 21, 2008

in Pay

I’m working at home today, which has its benefits. It’s quiet. Then I flipped on CNBC. Things aren’t good. And that made me think about Total Compensation in the Age of Cholera.

Having a lot of leverage in your pay plans is great in an up market. Everybody wins. Heck, when the market is up, it’s fantastic to offer below-median base pay and above-median total cash. Bring on the bonuses. But did we forget to tell employees that leverage works two ways in pay plans? It’s not Up Up, and Away in My Beautiful Balloon anymore. It is Total Compensation in the Age of Cholera.

I’m not trying to be Mr. Gloom-and-Doom. But it’s a reality. Crafting total compensation statements is going to take some real positioning. You’re going to need to talk clearly and plainly to your employees about business realities. You’re going to have to give your best and brightest a reason to stay when money is tight. You’re going to have to really mean “pay for performance.” And you’re going to have to talk about big things in combination with little things. Everyone’s in this together. It’s the Age of Economic Cholera. We can make it go away…but it won’t be by doing what we’ve always done when we talk about total compensation.

For you Monty Python fans, I think this “Bring Out Your Dead!” segment is one of their funniest ever.

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