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Workplace attitudes are shifting, and employee compensation programs should follow suit. Job-hopping from one position to the next used to be highly discouraged, but in a somewhat unstable economy, workers are becoming less afraid to leave one company to pursue their careers at another. In order to retain hard-working employees, the right compensation plan must be put in place, including merit increases. Make the money count Even in difficult economic times, top companies are making room in their budgets for merit increases to reward hardworking staff members. Many companies now take an approach wherein, even if there is no improvement in budget over the course of a fiscal year, some star performers will still get merit increases. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, under this new mindset, if there is a budget increase over a year, some employees still may not get an increase, while others will receive significant ones. This method makes clear to employees that performance will be valued above all else – by rewarding top performers even in times of economic stress, company loyalty will stay intact. Find out who really means business The best applicants and workers are often attracted to pay-for-performance positions. For those who are looking to coast through an office job, these programs may prompt them to evaluate whether they really want the job in the first place, or if there might be a better company for them somewhere else. Many managers and HR officials are wary to lose even low-performing employees, due to the potential costs of turnover. Ken Abosch, compensation practice leader at Aon Hewitt, disagrees. “Studies have shown that below-average performers contributed less than 10 percent of the value of average performers to an organization,” Abosch said, “and above-average performers contribute almost twice the value of average performers to an organization.” In other words, merit increases help retain high achievers, weed out low-performers, and streamline companies from top to bottom.

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Ballast Point Ventures

Ballast Point Ventures is a later-stage venture capital fund established to provide expansion capital for rapidly growing, privately owned companies in diverse industries, with a particular emphasis on companies located in Florida, the Southeast, and Texas. The BPV partners have more than 70 years of combined experience investing in and building high-growth companies in a number of industries, including healthcare, business services, communications, technology, financial services, and consumer goods. BPV has $200 million under management and seeks to make equity investments ranging from $3 million to $10 million.

Harbert Management Corporation

Harbert Management Corporation seeks to generate superior returns for their investors by identifying and investing in the most promising early growth stage companies in the Southeastern U.S. HMC seeks to capitalize on what it believes are compelling regional dynamics, such as a strong and fast-growing economy, significant research and development activities, and an established entrepreneurial community. The HMC team combines substantial investment, advisory, and operating experience with capital and networking contacts to support great entrepreneurial teams in successfully executing their growth plans. With offices in Birmingham, Alabama; Richmond, Virginia; and Gainesville, Florida, it’s well positioned to partner with entrepreneurs throughout the Southeast.

KBH Ventures

KBH Ventures was an early investor in Iconixx Software. KBH's investment philosophy plays a significant role in the firm's successful track record. KBH believes in running businesses to be cashflow positive and profitable every month. Startups and companies in a startup mode, such as one that has been purchased in distress, are expected to generate revenue within the first six months and reach profitability within the first 12 to 18 months. KBH also only invests in or acquires companies that are in the startup phase or have less than $20 million in revenues. KBH targets technology companies that offer business-to-business services.

S3 Ventures

S3 Ventures is an early expansion and growth stage venture firm with $200 million under management. It’s focused on information technology solutions that solve large business problems. S3 also invests in medical devices that improve the human condition. S3 invests in category-defining opportunities. It partners with the team and help focus methodically on what it takes to build a successful company. S3 today helps talented entrepreneurs take their technology and market knowledge and form valuable businesses in a repeatable fashion. Investment sizes start at several million or more for Series A, B, and C financing.