The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly impacted many aspects of life, both personal and professional. From a business perspective, it has forced the global economy into one of the worst recessions in modern history. Industries, enterprises, and organizations have had to contend with extremely sharp dips in profits, often having to furlough or lay off significant portions of their staff. Those who could operate off-site opted to shift their workforce to a remote, online working model.
Against this grim backdrop, we saw a pivotal moment in the social and civil rights struggle. The popularity and visibility of social movements nationally and across the globe encouraged many businesses to review and update their workplace policies, such as anti-discrimination, anti-harassment, and anti-racism guidelines, in addition to their pandemic response protocols.
Many have also started working with holistic staffing agencies like CGT Staffing to eliminate conscious or unconscious hiring bias as much as possible. Employers are now updating and revising their existing benefits and compensation policies as well. This blog explores these changes in detail.
The Impact of COVID-19 and Social Movements on Pay Equity
One aspect of workplace protocol markedly impacted by current social justice movements is employers’ approaches to fair and equitable compensation. Consider the disruptive impact COVID-19 has had on the economy. Millions of employees have been laid off in virtually every industry. This has forced many employees to take up more responsibilities in addition to their defined roles. In essence, most job descriptions have changed significantly. The social justice movement adds even more urgency for businesses to adapt.
If these changes remain unaddressed or ignored, they are liable to become big problems for any company. In the same vein, sticking to pre-pandemic workplace guidelines won’t work anymore; neither will sticking to pre-pandemic compensation policies. It is time for employers to be more transparent and proactive in their efforts to ensure more equitable compensation and benefits plans for their diverse workforce. While the specifics of these changes may vary from industry to industry, the following broad measures should serve as good starting points:
Evaluating and Improving Existing Policies
With the ongoing pandemic, workforces and their corresponding responsibilities have seen massive changes. The biggest change is the mass shift towards remote working. Identifying which jobs could be executed efficiently from home enabled employers to reduce on-site staff and segment essential duties. As an example, this enables mortgage firms to assess their staffing needs and find mortgage staffing solutions.
Moreover, many employees now routinely carry out duties that weren’t originally part of their title. Increasingly, companies are discovering that several employees who carry out similar duties actually have significant discrepancies in their individual compensation. So how to fix this? Evaluate what work different personnel are executing, and compare each to identify unjustifiable differences in pay structures.
Things like employee experience, performance, tenure, and achievements should factor into your corrective measures. However, racial, ethnic, or religious differentiators are a problem, even if seemingly unconscious.
Stay Informed of Recent Changes to Relevant State Laws
It’s not just the social justice movement that’s triggering changes in benefits plans and compensation policies. The individual state justice system often serves as a self-correcting mechanism, striking down older irrelevant laws in favor of rulings or amendments more appropriate to current times.
Of course, the application of these new rulings to your business would depend on the jurisdiction(s) in which your business operates. It may prove extremely useful to follow several emerging trends in state laws, especially legislation relating to fairer pay equity.
Here are a few things to look into:
- Many states are re-examining conventional pay difference justifications for employees doing comparable work.
- More states are focusing on reducing pay discrimination based on nationality, race, and other categories in addition to the existing drive for better gender-pay equity.
- Certain states have voted in transparency laws that make it illegal for employers to prohibit employees from discussing their pay scales.
- Many states and certain cities now prohibit potential employers from inquiring about a candidate’s pay history.
- Certain states may waive liability provided employers conduct transparent pay audits as defined by new laws and take steps to counter any instances of pay discrimination.
Training Hiring Managers to Improve Onboarding and Make Better Offers
One aspect of ensuring better pay equity is to review your initial hiring and onboarding processes. Employers need to pay special attention to how the hiring, onboarding, and retention processes work, with a greater focus on how hiring managers determine compensation for new hires. If the compensation setting is flawed in the initial hiring process, you can be sure it will roll over into the rest of your relationship with the employee.
The longer your workers stay with you, the more this pay disparity will perpetuate, eventually damaging your employer brand and public reputation. When this happens, it becomes very difficult both for your direct hiring managers and third-party partners, such as manufacturing staffing firms, to present you as a desirable employer. This can have a significant impact on your ability to fill talent gaps in the long run.