Remuneration’s hot topics

Last year’s HRINZ HR specialist of the year shares the pay issues that will be dominating the pay agenda for the coming years.

Remuneration’s hot topics

HR has a lot of topics to keep abreast of when it comes to remuneration. Dennis O’Callaghan, Manager Reward Consulting of remuneration and performance management company Strategic Pay, told HRM Online those in the field will be kept occupied by issues such as the living wage, pay fairness, the pay gap with Australia, and gender pay equality.

The living wage has been hot topic among politicians of late and the industry will need to keep itself informed of the on-going discussions.

“That has some implications that we need to research and be part of,” O’Callaghan said.

Politicians have also been talking up the pay gap with Australia and trying to close it. O’Callaghan however, is not confident inroads will be made as their annual wage movement outstrips New Zealand. Instead organisations will have to think smarter about how they reward their employees, he said, not only the pay packet. Gender pay equality also remains a hot topic to consider.

“At the moment on average female pay is lagging 13 to 14% behind the average male pay,” O’Callaghan said. “That’s still something we believe employers should be looking at, identifying the degree to which that gap exists in their own organisations, why that gap exists, and what steps they might be taking to overcome that.”

To help learn more about these issues, O’Callaghan said consultants needed to carry out more research here. Strategic Pay is making some inroads in the research area, currently carrying out research into the perceptions of employees around pay and pay fairness to provide insights into issue.

“I think it is much more important to employees than we realise,” he said. “Employee engagement is the current big thing that is happening for many organisations and I think with pay fairness and engagement the links there are quite strong. We are also developing some research to test that.”

O’Callaghan is recognised as the “go to” man for all things remuneration and it was his specialist skills that saw him awarded the HRINZ 2012 HR Specialist of the Year and a prize package that included the opportunity to complete a senior management course at Mt Eliza Executive Education in Melbourne.

But remuneration wasn’t always his speciality. O’Callaghan initially was teaching by day and in his evenings served on the Auckland council as chairman of the staff committee and the finances committee. When a consultant was hired to help attend to the council’s staff remuneration, the consultant offered O’Callaghan a job.

“I went from my classroom to suddenly grappling with the realities of being a consultant and getting out and advising businesses how remuneration works,” he said.

After working seven years with that company he left and started up his own firm, Strategic Pay. That was nearly 20 years ago and the company has expanded to employing 32 staff today.

In that time the “restless inventor” has developed essential management tools including Strategic Pay’s Five Factor Job evaluation system and RemWise® salary management software from inception. He said he is driven by the view “nothing I did yesterday is necessarily going to work for tomorrow”.

O’Callaghan’s innovation was also partly why a colleague encouraged him to put himself forward for the HRINZ Awards.

“I reluctantly agreed, I must say it was a bit last-minute but now I look back I’m really pleased I did. It was nice to be recognised,” he said.

This year’s winners will be announced at the HRINZ Awards Dinner to be held on November 21 in Wellington. Tickets are available here.

HRM Online NZ is the official media partner of the HRINZ HR Awards for 2013.

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