Human Resources Managers Know

The Honor of Working in Human Resources

For the last three years, I have had the privilege of talking to many Human Resources professionals in the United States and Canada. There is a border between some of us, and we are in a multitude of industries, yet one thing remains constant: we know what is really going on with pay in our companies.

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HR Knows

In working with customers on their compensation planning and strategy, I have noticed that they usually have a sense for who is overpaid and who is underpaid. Rather than coming as a surprise, nearly every time we do their compensation analysis the data validates their assessment of where the company stands in relation to the market data.

In the 300+ companies I have worked with, all the Human Resources professionals knew exactly who was overpaid, and why. They know who is a “FOTP” (Friend of the President). When we look at their benchmarked data, I frequently hear, “Oh, she’s been here 20 years,” or “Oh, he’s the brother of the owner.”

It’s an Honor

We also know who is underpaid, and exactly why their company is losing key people to a competitor who pays higher. We know how important it is to benchmark a position correctly and show why someone needs a raise. We rejoice in notifying a key employee they will be getting a well-deserved raise. When we hand a $10,000 salary increase to someone who was underpaid, it is an emotional moment. As one of my customers/colleagues put it, “Today I got to tell someone they were getting a raise that can only be described as life-changing.”

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And even though those moments don’t happen often, for most of us it validates our decision to choose Human Resources as a career. It gives us an impetus to continue the search for ways to be “a business partner who specializes in HR.” And a great way to add value to our companies is to show our executive team how to use compensation as a tool to attract, retain and motivate the talent that will help the company become great.


Nancy Kasmar, CCP, SPHR
PayScale, Inc.

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