WorldAtWork [Live Blog]

By Alison French

Tuesday, 1 PM EST

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Social Media: Guidelines for Employers in the Context of Compensation.

Jonna Contacos-Sawyer, President, HR Consultants Inc.
Albert Lee, Attorney & Shareholder, Tucker Arsenberg Attorneys

The session began with a powerful YouTube video on the magnitude and influence of social media.

The main point of the video:  Social media is too big for HR professionals to ignore.

Companies have a love hate relationship with social media. They love it for recruitment, brand awareness and when it drives sales. They hate it when their employees post negative things about the company on Facebook, when employees waste time at work on social websites and when it attracts negative attention to the company.  Studies show that 41% of employees spend on average two hours per day on Facebook while at work.

Two hours a day on Facebook? Why and how is this happening? Consider these things:

  • Is the work you give your employees mentally stimulating and engaging?
  • Are you managing their performance?
  • Are they fully aware of their job roles, expectations and goals?

If you answered “no” to any of those then the first step should be the employee has a clear understanding of their expectations, how they are being evaluated and has set goals

What is the problem with electronic communication, in the form of social media concerning your employees? It is writing that can be stored and shared and cannot be un-said.

But not all social media in the workplace is bad. There is the good:

  • Recruitment
  • Engagement
  • Increase of sales and leads
  • Customer Service

But there is also the bad:

  • Decreased productivity
  • Anonymity
  • Permanence of information

And the Ugly:

  • Terminating an employee in response to a Facebook post they made from their house.
  • Requiring an employee to provide social media information during the hiring process (Maryland just rules this not legal).

This session discussed, in detail, the legal implications when a company terminates an employee for a reason involving social media. Under Section 7 of The National Labor Relations Act, an employee has the fundamental right to talk about their work whether positive or negative. This means you can’t fire someone for a post they write at home about how much they dislike your organization. There have been countless cases where an employee has been fired and won under protection by this law.

What about terminating someone for being on Facebook for 2 hours a day in the office?

You need to be very clear if the termination (or even probation/warning) is about action or content. You can’t fire someone for posting something your company finds offensive if they post during work hours (content).  You can however fire someone if your company has a clearly defined social media policy and that employee does not adhere to the rules (action). The key here is to be consistent in your claim.

The speaker provided some suggestions on how a company should go about creating social media guidelines and policies for their company. First and foremost, the company must decide what their social media philosophy is. Will they be conservative, (no social media) moderate or liberal (everything permitted). The speaker suggestion not banning social media totally as that leads to disgruntled employees who post away about the company during non-working hours. Rather, HR professionals should develop a plan that suits their culture, with help from top executives and IT. Some guidelines include:

  • Define social media for their employees
  • Define the purpose of the policy
  • Get executive buy-in from day one
  • Review their existing policy

It is also important for companies to set clear boundaries and repercussions for an employee who does not adhere to the policy. Consistency is key to ensure employees respect and adhere to the policy.

Suggested resource:


Tuesday, 10 AM EST

Engaging and Retaining in a Professional Workforce: The PwC Story

Pat Flume, Managing Director Rewards, PwC
Steven E. Gross, Managing Partner, Mercer
Denise Donnelly, Partner, Mercer

In this session, PwC walked us through a case study revealing how they created a winning human capital strategy in response to some major challenges with engagement and retention.

The challenge:

Engaging and retaining a multigenerational workforce, especially the millennials who make up the majority of the employee population. Regarding the millennials, what were they looking for? What makes them happy? What makes them perform to the best of their ability? Assessing the current situation, PWC found three specific problems that needed to be addressed:

  • Sagging engagement
  • Surging turnover of senior associates (20+%)
  • Decline in “Best Places to Work” ranking


  1. Build staff engagement, trust and loyalty
  2. Improve perfections of fairness and consistency of pay and pay decisions
  3. Enhance performance conversation
  4. keep staff at firm longer (especially senior associates)
  5. Reduce number seeking to leave

The process:

This was process took many months and consisted of many focus groups across the country, with two-way communication between employees and managers. In addition PwC established cross-functional teams with senior leadership endorsement. They also collected a lot of data from surveys, interviews and workforce analytics.

The findings and solutions:

Employees (especially the millennials) wanted to be recognized more frequently. They wanted to feel appreciated and know they had future career opportunities at PwC.


  • Adding new titles
  • Milestone awards for promotions to certain titles
  • Training and mentoring opportunities for promotions
  • New performance rating scale
  • Managers got paid sabbatical in addition to their vacation
  • Performance bonus plan with target


Employees wanted clarity on their pay and how their performance is rated. They wanted to know more about the long term potential at PwC.


  • Communicated PwC’s rewards and recognitions program to the workforce
  • Created an online flipbook in an easily digestible format which communicated things such as company salary ranges, benchmark job data, bonus plans and earning potential
  • Managers had conversations with employees reviewing the individual’s place in a particular salary range and what future growth they could expect.

What were the Results?

  1. In 1 ½ year, they cut turnover by 50%
  2. Leaped forward by 25 companies in Fortune 1000 “Best Places to Work”
  3. Noise level of people talking about pay decreased (measured in focus groups)


Monday, 8pm EST

We had a great first day here at WorldatWork Total Rewards! So many great speakers and presenters. And thanks to everyone who stopped by our booth! Here’s a little video recap of Day 1 from the Exhibitor Hall. We’re glad everyone enjoyed our compensation swag!   We’ve almost ran out, but there’s still some left. Stop by Tuesday if you haven’t already.


Monday, 3:30pm EST

Everything You Do In Compensation Is Communication — How to Do Everything Better

Ann M. Bares, Managing Partner, Altura Consulting
Margaret O’Hanlon, Consultant, Total Rewards, re:Think Consulting
Dan Walter, President and CEO, Performensation

Here are some of my key takeaways from a wonderful panel discussion on effective compensation communication with three bloggers from Compensation Café. They walked through 8 key steps in the compensation plan process. Most importantly, they stated that compensation professionals tend to start the communication process around Step 5 but need to start at step 1. Here are the 8 steps with some key information they shared.


Step 1: Identify problems and describe solutions

Your compensation plan needs to speak for itself. It must be direction setting. It must answer the questions: what are our problems and what should the solution be. Dan Walter noted that many comp folks think they have the “right answer” to a problem but are unable to communicate their conviction to anyone else.

Key takeaway: Argue your position from the other side of the table. Figure out the problem of your stakeholder and explain how their problem will be fixed through your program.


Step 2: Preliminary design

Comp folks must stop focusing on their report to the executives and start addressing the changes in store for managers and employees. By doing this, you are implementing a change management process. Realize how all new programs link to others.

Key takeaway: You need a process to get someone from point A to point B.


Step 3: Test Design

This means test your assumptions. Assess how effectively the design will change minds and habits. Talk to your employees, face to face.

Key takeaway: Get your plan (no matter how “not complete” you think it may be) in front of your employees. What do they think? Are they inspired? Motivated? Start this with your “complainers” as they are usually your “influencers.”


Step 4: Finalize your design and implementation

Make your plan clear – don’t allow for interpretations.

Key takeaway: A compensation plan won’t manage people’s understanding of it. It is only a guide. The compensation team and managers must communicate directly to employees.


Step 5: Turning design into implementation

Stop drafting words. Words only achieve awareness.

Key takeaway: When communication, make it interactive: use examples, ask questions, and invest time into training and tools.


Step 6: Executive and managers implement

Have a proactive plan.

Key takeaways: Conduct focus groups, interviews. Keep your eyes on #1. The problem and solution.


Step 7: Measure program results

You must consider success from both sides.

Key takeaway: Look at both the business strategy and participant perspective to measure results.


Step 8: Adapt, design and implement plan to upcoming year

Don’t start by looking at last year’s and determine what we can change. Last year is not a template for this year.

Key takeaway: Start at THIS year.

Monday, 1:45pm EST
The Evolution of Google’s Equity Program
Speakers: John Schirm, Compensation Manager
Frank Wagner, Director of Compensation

The number of new employees or as Frank Wander, Google’s Director of Compensation refers to them, “Nooglers”, has grown by 25x the last 8 years. With rapid growth come growing pains.

Google is not only faced with the challenge of attracting, retaining and motivating the very best talent, but also empowering their employees to value their company equity programs, truly buying into and believing in the program’s worth.

In Monday’s session, Frank Wander and John Schrim presented Google’s equity timeline from the creation of Google to the successful company it is today. They shared some key challenges Google faced and the programs and practices put in place to resolve them.

Phase 1 (1998-2004)

Phase 1 was Pre-IPO, where employees were given an “options only” stock plan. During this time, the “Googlers” worked hard, feeling a sense of urgency with the imminent growth of the company. Google adopted a conservative compensation strategy, with no employee making over 100k and with merit increases were only available through promotion.  As the IPO approached stock began to rise despite the company not being public

Phase 2 ( 2004-2009)

Phase 2 was Post-IPO, with stock now in the picture. Google knew if they wanted to attract the best talent, from a competitor, that the stock that was in the picture needed to be attractive. During this time the stock prices were volatile with frequent spikes and dips. A problem arose and depending on when someone joined the company, the strike price could be totally different in a week’s time. Google responded to this challenge with a rule in place that they could adjust the stock options for those at the tail of the performance spectrum. (This only applied to people in cohorts who were hired when the stock price spiked or dipped.

Phase 3 (2009-present)

Phase 3 is where Google is today. The challenge? Continuing to grow while maintaining employee satisfaction levels in their equity programs. Google wants their equity programs to have a high perceived internal value. Google knew the “plain vanilla stock option plan” would not be appropriate for their workforce so they needed some creative and innovative ways to reward their employees through their equity program.

How did they do it?
I’d like to call it the 4 C’s.


Google changed the structure of their plan from stock options to restricted stock units (RSU)


Google needed to educate their entire workforce on the type of plan they were adopting and what that meant on the individual level.  This was an extremely important one for Google as they felt it was imperative to educate in order to remove the distraction they felt was muddying the company culture. After taking a pulse of their workforce through engagement surveys and focus groups, they discovered Googlers heavily discounted the underwater options, which is important when 80% are underwater.

Change the vesting schedule

During the focus groups Googlers voiced a common concern, “I want my shares faster” so Google responded with a tiered vesting schedule to shorten the time it took for employees to reap the benefits of their stock.

Custom programs

Google developed an organic, home grown application for their employees to use which would enable them to model their own “what if” scenarios through a user friendly, program. Employees could enter their current base salary, or a future predicted base salary with a target bonus and the tool would calculate real-time their vested stock options/worth.

I am sure you can relate to what John Schirm, Manager of Compensation at Google shared, “Our people drive our business. We need to keep them in their seats”. This is how Google decided to keep their workers in their seats.

Google’s innovation in compensation and rewards mirror their innovation as a company. Their new equity program roll out has allowed them to transform the way they reward their employees.

Monday, 11 AM EST

We’re live from WorldatWork Total Rewards in Orlando, FL! Check back throughout the day for updates from presenters, keynotes and the exhibitor hall. And be sure to follow @kenexacomp on Twitter for real-time updates.


Alison French

Alison French, CCP, GRP

Alison French, CCP, GRP Strategy & Market Insights, IBM Smarter Workforce Alison French has spent over 10 years driving product marketing and strategy for IBM Kenexa’s compensation software ...(Read More)

Posted in: Compensation, News, Social

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