What Pay And Benefits Can Tell Us About The North Carolina Workforce And Economy
By: Molly Hegeman, vice president of HR Services, CAI
North Carolina is ranked as one of the fastest-growing states in the country, and areas like the greater Research Triangle are being recognized as some of the nation’s top places to live and work. This is in part due to an economy that has greatly recovered from the effects of the 2008 recession.
North Carolina’s economy has made great strides in the past six years, and results from CAI’s 2013-2014 Pay Trends Survey supports these developments. The recent annual survey from CAI, an employers’ association that supports and evaluates North Carolina businesses, found that the projected average salary increase for employees across the state will hold steady at 2.9 percent in 2014. In fact, 84 percent of all companies surveyed intend to give pay raises this year. This means that employers across the state will need to continue to be mindful of employee salaries as key factors in overall employee satisfaction and retention. With signs of continued improvement in employee pay, what else do salary trends mean for North Carolina associations and companies?
One implication of current salary trends is that associations and companies need to start taking a more comprehensive approach to attracting and retaining top talent. Due to salaries holding steady or increasing, potential employees feel more comfortable in assessing their value and can now be more selective when choosing a new employer. What’s the bottom line? Promoting a strong salary is great, but the paycheck can no longer be the only tool in an employer’s toolbox when it comes to winning over their next employee.
In an increasingly competitive marketplace for the best employees, companies are placing an ongoing emphasis on pay for performance, not just pay for pay’s sake. These companies are challenging themselves to make wiser decisions on spending in the improving economy. It is important for employees to feel that they are not just numbers, but valued team members who should be invested in and rewarded for hard work. Companies are finding ways to show their team members that they are valuable.
Investing in employees is not a brand new concept. But the way companies invest is changing to meet employee needs and speaks volumes to an employer’s ability to attract and keep top talent long term. Company culture is becoming more important than in year’s past. Today’s employees are looking beyond salary alone and are now taking the time to inquire about the work environment, stress level and work-life balance at a potential organization.
Consider questions you may be asked by job candidates that you may not have heard a decade ago. Some examples include: Does your company offer training and development opportunities? Are there service or volunteer opportunities that your company participates in? North Carolina associations and companies that can answer “Yes” to these questions and more are poised to find a greater return on investment in 2014.
Instead of just giving current and prospective employees the chance to achieve a positive work-life balance, companies are shifting their focus to work-life effectiveness. The important concept for companies to embrace is that work is more than just a job. By understanding the needs of employees, offering flexible schedules, remote work, and other benefits that appeal to your workforce, employees will feel more engaged with their employers and find more meaning and fulfillment in what they do each day.
The one-size-fits-all approach to employment, pay and benefits is not relevant anymore. The data compiled through our annual research indicates that work-life effectiveness is made a reality through broadening your policies and benefits that include more flexible scheduling, the opportunity to work from home and continuing training and education. When associations and companies combine positive pay and benefits that are most valued by its employees, they are more likely to reduce turnover and increase employee productivity and satisfaction.
With an ever-improving economy, North Carolina companies can expect to see pay and benefits trends continue to rise throughout 2014 and for the foreseeable future. Employers will also be able to increase or at least hold steady their salaries for employees, as well as invest in the benefits and other measures that will help them achieve work-life effectiveness. Companies can more easily project their value and pick from the best in the state’s talent pool to ensure sustainable success. Because of positive pay, great companies and strong talent pools, North Carolina looks to continue leading the way as a great state in which to live and work.
Molly Hegeman is vice president of HR Services for CAI, a trusted resource for HR, compliance and people development. With locations in Raleigh and Greensboro, CAI is a membership-driven organization that helps North Carolina employers maximize employee engagement and minimize employer liability through human resources and management advice, training, news, survey data, public policy advocacy and consulting services. For more information, please call (919) 878-9222 or visit http://www.capital.org.