Refine your Compensation Plan to Attract and Retain in a Changing Economy

Julie Checknita, Employer Services | June-22-11



Canada's unemployment rate is at its lowest since January 2009, resulting from more job openings and fewer people applying. According to Statistics Canada, approximately 27,500 fewer Canadians are looking for work.  Furthermore, a recent study conducted by ECO Canada found that 40% of environmental employers in Canada recognize moderate to large HR challenges directly associated to compensation and benefits.

As the economy continues to get stronger, environmental employers will need to re-assess their recruitment and compensation practices, in order to attract and retain key employees. 

A critical component in recruiting and retaining qualified workers is the overall compensation package. While base salary is important, perks such as health benefits, vacation time, flexible scheduling and other organizational attributes and policies are becoming increasingly significant in the eyes of a job seeker.

One of the greatest challenges lies in deciding on the right compensation mix. Offering appealing attributes that are attractive to a diverse market of job seekers, while fitting tight budgets can be tricky. While there is no one size fits all solution, there are a few steps that can be taken to tackle this issue.

The first step in determining compensation is to understand the current going rate in the market. Your compensation team should be able to provide insights on market compensation trends for the job in question. For example, if the skill sets being sought are in high demand and short supply, you may have to offer a salary or benefit package above the industry standard. On the other hand, if the skill sets are lower in demand and higher in supply, you may be able to offer a compensation mix below the standard.

Fortunately, for smaller organizations with smaller budgets, pay and benefits are not the only elements job seekers care about. Intrinsic rewards are also perceived to be quite valuable.  Information regarding the organizational culture , opportunities for learning and growth, and what makes your organization unique, may be equally important and should be communicated by the hiring manager. While the job interview is designed to identify whether or not a candidate is the right fit for the position, it is also a great time to sell your organization. 

If you still have questions, request input from current employees. Getting perspectives from current staff will help you to pinpoint what’s working – and what’s not.  It will also show employees that their outlook is valued.

 It is important to note that you will need to make adjustments as external factors/trends continue to change and as your target market of prospective employees change.  Usually, these changes are small and often have to do with how you communicate/market your compensation package.

Looking for compensation data specific to the environmental sector?  ECO Canada’s Compensation Tool reflects occupational data for over 60+ environmental professions.  Click here for more information.

To receive a complimentary 2009 Compensation Report, or if you have compensation tool related inquiries, please contact

You can also help contribute to the 2011 Compensation Report by inputting Salary, Bonus, and Benefits data into the online survey tool before September 1, 2011. Doing so will allow you to access the 2011 report at up to 40% off.