Compensation is a Balancing Action (Not an Act)

Have you ever used one of those workout things called a “Bosu Ball”? A Bosu Ball is half a workout ball attached to a round plastic platform. Many people workout standing on the soft, round ball side.  My trainer turns it upside down and makes me stand on the flat plastic side. Balancing with the round side on the floor requires concentration and constant adjustments.  Add some basic weights or movements and the process makes you stronger, while exhausting you. The trick is making frequent small adjustments.  If you wait until a large adjustment is needed, it is probably too late. So why am I telling you about my core exercises? I realized the other day that my workouts were also perfect training for compensation professionals. We often talk about having balanced compensation programs.  We work to get Total Rewards just right. We are constantly looking for the perfect mix of cash, STI, LTI, recognition programs and more. So many of us look at balance like a multisided scale.  Put just the right amount of weight on each platform and balance will be achieved.  So long as nothing drastic happens we can focus our attention elsewhere for a while. However, often a “while” turns into multiple years.

In fact, compensation balance is more like standing on that ball or riding a snowboard. The best view balance as an action rather than a status. Ironically, if people weren’t involved, both the ball and the snowboard can maintain perfect balance forever.  Once you add a human, the static nature of the device flies out the window. Compensation programs are also like this.

It is fairly easy to balance your compensation program on paper. As soon as you incorporate managers, employees, fluctuating stock prices and currencies, changing attitudes and regulations, programs require as much attention and concentration as a kid barreling down a snowy hill. The key is to train and practice enough that you learn how to make the small adjustments that help you avoid the giant adjustments, or crashing into a tree.

The amazing thing about balance is that as you practice it can become second nature. Each workout with my trainer was more complex than the one prior, without being dramatically more difficult.  After a few months, tasks that I found impossible on the first day required little effort as my brain constantly made the required small adjustments.

Compensation is a balancing action, not a balancing act. If you read the Compensation Café blog and similar resources, you are already ahead of the game. Resources like these are your “Bosu Ball”. Pay attention to the small adjustments that your Total Rewards need and see your plans evolve naturally to fit the needs of your company and staff.

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