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  • Executive Compensation Calendar – When Should You Work on Specific Projects?

    header_proxyseason

    Dan Walter, Performensation

    It’s that time of the year again. Proxy season is wrapping up. You are probably working at one of the 98% of public companies who passed their Say on Pay vote with flying colors. Or, you work at one of the 100% of private companies that don’t worry about it. Polls and surveys usually show June and July as the slowest months of any compensation professional’s year. This is especially true for those who focus on executive compensation.

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  • Equity Compensation – Performance Accelerated Units (PAUs), Old School Performance Equity


    Dan Walter, Performensation

    As I mentioned in an earlier post, performance equity instruments still get lumped together like a bowl of mixed nuts. Of these instruments, Performance Accelerated Units (PAUs) are one of the easiest for participants to understand. Essentially, they are time-based RSUs with vesting that accelerates if certain goals or triggers are met. It is important to note that PAUs are not strictly pay for performance because value is built in from the start and vesting will occur based on service if the goals are not met. This makes them nearly the polar opposite of the Performance Equity Units (PEUs) were covered in my last equity compensation post.

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  • Real Pay, Realizable Pay, Pay Ratios and Reality


    Dan Walter, Performensation

    Pay ratios are the most commonly used tool when discussing the unfairness between executive pay and that of the rank and file. Recently, on the PayScale Career News blog which caters to individuals managing their careers, there was an article showing CEO-worker pay ratios at several well-known companies. Ratios like 1,034:1 (Walmart) and 0:1 (Google) are attention grabbers. The question is whether this tells all, or even a significant portion, of the real story.

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  • Equity Compensation – Restricted Stock Units (RSUs), Downside Protection with a Couple Downsides

    Stickman - equity compensation - rsu
    Dan Walter, Performensation

    Last month I covered Restricted Stock Shares (RSS), today’s post covers Restricted Stock Units (RSUs). Where RSS and Stock Options are cousins, RSS and RSUs are siblings. RSS is the older sibling, with more years and experience under its belt. RSUs are the new little sister who came by surprise and often gets more attention than seems to be required. RSUs were seldom used before they shot into the spotlight following the Dotcom crash of 1999-2000. Initially, they were used to replace underwater stock options and slow the use of plan shares approved by shareholders. They provided some protection against a decrease in stock price and used somewhere between 25-50% of the shares require to provide the same value as stock options. They quickly became a major component of the equity compensation toolbox.

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  • The Seven Deadly Sins of Executive Compensation

    Stickman - 7 deadly sins of exec comp
    Dan Walter, Performensation

    Most of the problems with executive compensation tend to originate within a few categories. I have attempted to summarize these and look forward to the compensation community adding their take on this topic. Look at your past mistakes and issues. Did they start with one of these seven categorical errors?

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  • Equity Compensation – Restricted Stock Shares, Always a Great Tool, Sometimes

    Stickman - Equity Compensation - RSS
    Dan Walter, Performensation

    Restricted Stock Shares (RSS), often called Restricted Stock Awards (RSA) or even more simply Restricted Stock, have been used longer than any other equity compensation instrument. Companies have used variations of restricted stock for almost as long as stock has existed. While ISOs and NQSOs are “appreciation only” awards, RSSs are Full Value Awards (FVA). RSS awards are unique in that they require the issuance of real stock as of the date of the award. Restricted Stock is a confusing term since it can refer to at least three major categories of stock. 1) Stock issued prior to registration with the SEC under the 1933 Act; 2) Stock issued to affiliates of the company who are subject to Rule 144 filings; 3) Stock that must meet time and/or performance conditions before it can be freely transferred. For the sake of this post, I will only cover the last of these.

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  • CFO Corner: What the Heck is Realizable Pay (and why you need to know…now)

    Stickman - Realizable Pay
    Dan Walter, Performensation

    In the good old days, determining total compensation was fairly easy. Always wrong, but easy. For any given year you just added up what you paid people in base pay, what you expected to pay them in bonuses, other cash incentives, and the Fair Value (or a reasonable equivalent) of equity at the time it was granted. Public companies disclosed this information and shareholders were left to make their own projections from there. There has been a fairly rapid movement to a measurement called “realizable pay” (the current/recent value of outstanding pay). This metric may also be combined with “realized pay” (the value of exercised or otherwise delivered pay) in an attempt to provide a more accurate picture of total compensation and its alignment to company performance.

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  • CFO Corner: UK Shareholder Spring was Barely a Fling

    Stickman UK Shareholder Spring

    Dan Walter, Performensation

    In recent presentations I have heard several compensation professionals from the UK refer to their “Shareholder Spring” of 2012. The reference is to the raising of voices from shareholders. While we all love a little hyperbole, I believe that their Shareholder Spring was barely a fling. The UK’s Shareholder Spring led to a lot of posturing, but as of yet, the player and rules of the game are still familiar.

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  • CFO Corner: Equity Compensation – The Ups and Downs of ISOs

    Stickman ups and downs of isos
    Incentive Stock Options are a great place to start talking about equity compensation. ISOs are “appreciation-only” vehicles, meaning they have direct value to employees only if the stock price appreciates above the initial grant price. Other common appreciation-only instruments include NQSOs and SARs (to be covered in future posts). If you understand ISOs, you can easily understand other appreciation instruments.

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  • CFO Corner: Beyond TSR (Total Shareholder Return)

    Stickman Beyond TSR

    Dan Walter, Performensation

    Executive Pay that Works for Shareholders and Companies

    Like Milli Vanilli in 1990, Total Shareholder Return (TSR) is currently all the rage in executive compensation plans. And, like Milli Vanilli, as entertaining as TSR is to some, it may prove to be a less than stellar performer for most. Of course, unlike the disgraced pop-stars, TSR is unlikely to disappear from view any time soon.

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  • Cash is King. Who are the rest of the royals?

    Stickman Cash is KingBy Dan Walter, Performensation

    In the mighty kingdom of compensation, cash is king. Cash holds this majestic position through a family line that stretches back hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Like any monarch, King Cash has a retinue of supporters, all with their own long histories and stories of power.

    I will be providing a new series of posts on Payscale’s Compensation Today blog. These posts will be focused on explaining the King’s court as well as the strategies, tactics and technical aspects of how to best use these players in the game of chess that is total rewards.

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  • Non-profits: Find Safe Harbor in the Talent Wars

    Be Smart about Compensation With Good Data

    We're the experts in compensation data, so it's no surprise that we field compensation questions from private corporations all day long. What's new is that more and more non-profit organizations are coming to us make sure they find safe harbor in their executive compensation decisions. They look to us because our data and tools can help prevent the imposition of severe tax penalties applied by the IRS to punish executive compensation they deem excessive.

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  • Small Company CEOs Work Hard and Earn Less

    Less Pay for Small Company CEOs

    5489061293_a9b463ae1fThanks to bank bailouts, Occupy Wall Street and other news, there is a lot of attention on CEO pay right now, especially as it compares to the average wages of employees. Whether you agree or disagree with a CEO making high wages at Fortune 1000 companies, it’s hard to argue that CEOs and other C-suite employees at small organizations are being overpaid.

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  • Bonus Plan for Executives

    Executive Bonus Planning: An Overview of Short-Term Incentives

    By Bridget Quigg, PayScale.com

    Executive pay planning can be an intimidating process, even for seasoned HR professionals. In the upcoming series of posts on the topic, we hope to enlighten you on the basics of executive pay, as well as get into the details on topics like restricted stock grants and deferred compensation. We’ll start with this up-close look at short-term incentives, or a bonus plan.

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  • The Basics of Executive Compensation

    The ABCs of Executive Pay

    What are the ABCs of executive pay and why is it so different from what the rest of us get?

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  • Ideas for Executive Compensation

    Ideas for Executive Compensation Q&A Session – Expert Ideas for Executive Compensation


    The following is a transcript of the question and answer session that followed PayScale’s webinar, How to Develop Your Executive Pay Strategy. The topics covered in these questions include adjusting to a down economy, finding salary data for a unique industry and total cash compensation. Answers are provided by author Sharon Koss, SPHR, CCP, president of Koss Management Consulting
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  • How to Design an Executive Compensation Policy

    Executive Compensation Policy How to Design an Executive Compensation Policy


    By Staff Writer

    If your company is looking to bounce back from a drop in profits or handle a growth spurt, you may be in the market for fresh talent at your executive level. What’s the best way to approach salary negotiations during the executive hiring process?

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  • Executive Compensation – Free HR Questions and Answers

    Executive Compensation Executive Compensation: Qualifying and Compensating the Top Levels of Your Organization

    The following is a transcript of the question and answer session that followed PayScale’s webinar, Executive Pay 101: What You Need to Know. The topics covered include qualification and generalized methods of compensating top level executives, vice president and above. Answers are provided by Sharon Koss, SPHR, CCP, president of Koss Management Consulting.

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  • A Look at Executive Pay Limits

    Executive pay limits Do You Support Executive Pay Limits?

    By Staff Writer

    In the chaotic and frightening times we’ve all stumbled into, it sounds nice to get back at someone, something, an institution, anything, for what has happened to many people’s 401Ks, homes and jobs. Who can we point a finger at?

    Of all the options, the one that has received a lot of media attention is executive compensation. Salary data abounds online, pointing out that executives' motivations are misdirected, resulting in an overpaid, profit-driven culture where the guy or gal in charge only looks out for number one. What do you think is a smart way to change the status quo?

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  • Merrill Lynch Executive Compensation Bonuses

    Executive Executive Compensation Bonuses Gone Over the Top: Ken Lewis, CEO of Bank of America, Under Serious Scrutiny

    In September of 2008, Merrill Lynch admitted that it couldn’t pay its bills anymore. But, just before it ended its final quarter of business, Q4 of 2008, Merrill Lynch gave out nearly $4 billion in executive compensation bonuses.

    Come again? Say what?

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