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I think you have made a solid recommendation that mirrors what I recommended for our executive structures following our freezing of executive salaries. Otherwise you might have a situation where a new executive is promoted to a level higher than an existing executive that had his/her pay frozen.


Thanks for the confirmation, and the observation. I also worry about compression issues stemming from a lack of alignment here. Of course, all that hinges on what the market will actually be doing down the road - when and how quickly it recovers. If only I knew the answer to that!

If your salary ranges are intended to accurately reflect the outside competitive market for your jobs, then you should act accordingly. Ranges are quite different from salary budgets. One is policy; the other is practice.

Those who plan nominal increases while their relevant peer competitive labor marketplace stays flat could therefore (a) keep their range structure unchanged if they wanted to reflect the external status quo replacement-cost movement reality or (b) bump it slightly if they wanted to increase their policy structure's relative comparative position against their competition.

This is the 25th anniversary of an article in the old Personnel Journal (now Workforce Mag.) titled, "Everything You Wanted to Know About Salary Ranges." It's still valid, as a comprehensive review of the practices and options.


In normal times, I would agree 110% with the "classic" approach of "ranges reflect outside market, salary budgets reflect inside practice". Problem is, this year is a bit of a game changer, probably not what the article writers had in mind when they penciled their classic piece. I don't think any of us have a clear idea of exactly what is happening in the competitive pay market - and it may, in fact, be another year or so until the dust settles and we get a good look at it. Given all that, I am reluctant to pass along my "same old" recommendations about program management. I think being cautious and keeping program elements in alignment is a sensible option until we see where all this is heading.

All that said, I appreciate the comment and the reminder - and I am interested to hear what approaches others have chosen for these "interesting times".

Yes, a purist approach would be to change the structure based on the market even though individual salaries are frozen. But there is nothing to stop a company adjusting its structure by a higher amount to catch up with the market next year when hopefully the cash is flowing a little better.

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About The Author

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    Compensation consultant Ann Bares is the Managing Partner of Altura Consulting Group. Ann has more than 20 years of experience consulting with organizations in the areas of compensation and performance management.

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