Short and to the Point, but not Sweet

I conducted a mid-year salary survey on a few key occupations in August. As a result, one occupation group will receive a salary adjustment and two occupations will not. One message was easy to send, the other two not. One was particularly difficult because wages for this group have been an issue for some time.

Let me define the issue. Our rates are competitive statewide except in comparison with certain facilities in a core metro area. Our facility is not comparable to these facilities in terms of size, complexity or services offered. Nor are we in a major metropolitan area. Our rates are competitive across telephone surveys and a variety of third party surveys. Our turnover is minimal, our recruitment is not difficult and we have a steady flow of candidates from our student programs. We are basically doing ok from the measures side. We are not from the people side.

Problem? Grades. We have pay grades. We have two occupations in the same grade and the duties of one occupation is perceived to be  more complex than the other. That the salary rates paid for the "more complex" occupation are market competitive, is overshadowed by the fact the an occupation perceived to be much less complex is paid at the same rate.

For the past few years, a senior manager and I have had face to face meetings with staff in the "more complex" occupation. They have heard and know  the pay setting guidelines and they may even understand and accept that we have exhausted all avenues available to us. They do not accept the absence of a pay gap with the other occupation.  Short of getting into the federal pay system (complex and robust), suffice it to say that my hands are completely tied unless the labor conditions change. 

I communicated the survey results to the impacted employees today. It was short and to the point, but not sweet.