Benefits and Compensation

HR Salaries Jumping Up … But There Is a Catch

A consultant survey says that HR people have the opportunity to greatly increase their pay these days, but only if they develop the skills that merit such raises.

What level of salary increase is in your company’s plans for the coming year? Probably about 3 percent to 4 percent, if you fall within national averages. Not terrible, but not exactly life-changing either.

Well, how would you feel if we told you that HR people have been seeing their pay bumped up from 9 percent to 22 percent annually? Yes, that’s how we thought you would feel. And yes, we knew the next question you would have is, “how?”

Mercer HR consultant Catherine Hartmann knows the answer, and she was willing to share it in a recent webinar reported on by our sister publication, Best Practices in Compensation & Benefits.

For more information on Best Practices in Compensation & Benefits or to try it at no risk, click here.

“For those professionals heading down the road to corporate leadership,” the newsletter reported, “the salary news is good—very good. Some HR roles are beginning to command salaries at or near the levels of their counterparts in other business segments.”

“A really good compensation analyst is going to cost just as much as a good financial analyst,” Hartmann was quoted as telling her audience.

Some of the raises recorded on a recent Mercer survey of HR professionals:

–Comp & Benefits Administrator: Up 22.2 percent
–Comp & Benefits Director: Up 11.3 percent
–Compensation Director: Up 9.8 percent
–Benefits Director: Up 9.3 percent

In fact, says the Mercer survey, HR executives were among the top five highest-paid employees at 25 percent of the companies responding. In a similar 1999 survey, that figure was only 13 percent.


Of course, there is a catch. Many current HR professionals won’t see that kind of money without seriously upgrading their skill sets, says Hartmann. They need to make the transition, she says, from being “doers” administering programs to “doers and thinkers,” making a strategic contribution to the organization’s future.

Just how much is HR – or most other jobs – paid in your state? Find out at no cost or risk when you try your state’s edition of BLR’s Employee Compensation in [Your State] series. Click for info.

“We are now seeing HR serving as an advisor to corporate governance,” Hartmann says. “Chief human resource officers are being asked to help form strategies to attract, retain, and develop the right people to meet business requirements. They’re also being asked a lot more to help the CEO think through the company’s current and future succession planning.”

She adds that this work includes finding ways to retain the company’s rising stars– who will likely leave unless they see a promising career path clearly before them.

To be able to fulfill this wider role, Hartmann recommends that HR professionals:

–See HR as more than just an administrator of current programs.

–Gain the wider knowledge you’ll need about company finance and operations, perhaps by finding a mentor to help educate you.

–Learn your company’s goals for up to 5 yeas going forward, and then develop plans for how HR can create the comp, benefits, and other programs to find and keep the people who will make these goals happen.

–Train supervisors and line managers on how to recognize star performers and plan career development programs for them.

$$$$$ … ?????
How much do you need to pay to hire and keep the best in your area, without overpaying? The answer is likely in BLR’s Employee Compensation in [Your State] program. It’s published in 43 separate state editions, and 6 updates a year are included. Try it at no cost. Read more.