Variable pay is, more than most compensation applications, an approach by which organizations can align employee behaviors and efforts to the business plan and operating model; the quantum being an outcome variable. It can help employees understand what is expected of them and why, thus communicating business priorities to the workforce.
The instability of the global economy has led companies to re-examine their variable pay programs in many ways:
Apart from the slowdown, Hay Group research has found that the following are the top three drivers of change to variable pay programs, going forward: better alignment with business strategy; improving company or team performance; and creating better alignment or line-of-sight between corporate and individual performance.
As organizations look to the change process, there are three things they must keep in mind:
The best organizations are using variable pay not purely as a cash flow tool but as a support mechanism for their performance management strategy.
Some of the most successful variable pay programs are those which reflect the company’s business model and work culture; take into account the impact different employee groups have on performance; are tailored to employee preferences and demographic profiles; and are fully integrated with the overall reward programme.
In a challenging business environment, companies must make the right call on strategy and performance if they are to take full advantage of their variable pay programs. A strategic approach to variable pay is critical to remaining competitive in a challenging market.
The average CEO compensation in the country has crossed the Rs 2-crore mark on a cost-to-company basis.
In a study by global management consultancy firm Hay Group on Top Executives Compensation, it was found that at larger and more complex organisations, the compensation exceeds Rs 7 crore.
For the next level of top executives (excluding the CEO), the compensation is above Rs 1 crore on a CTC basis. The Top Executive Compensation Report 2011-2012 is based on insights from 87 organisations across sectors, analysing compensation practices of top executives — CEOs, their direct reports, and heads of businesses as well as functions.
Mr Sridhar Ganesan, Rewards Practice Leader, Hay Group, says: “The Indian CEO market has always seen a large pool of ‘operationally-excellent’ CEOs, but a scarcity of ‘managing-business’ CEOs which has driven compensation high.”
Also, the compensation is expected to spiral further due to increasing cross-sector employability of CEOs called the ‘lateral CEOs.’ “A broader landscape of opportunities, coupled with the scarcity of ‘holistic’ CEOs, will drive executive compensation northwards,” he added.
The average CEO’s salary is 2.6 times that of the rest of the executive population, in terms of total CTC, excluding long-term incentives. But there is very little total compensation differential between top executives across core (head of sales and marketing, had of manufacturing, operations and business heads) and enabler functional roles (HR Head, Chief Information Officer, R&D Head).
There is also a growing focus on performance, leading to a more pronounced variable pay component in overall compensation. The study finds variable pay as a percentage of fixed CTC to be in the range of 15-30 per cent.