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How remuneration data is enabling success in the disability sector

As markets change and jobs adapt the pressure on HR decision makers increases. You are the ones relied upon with the complex task of designing jobs correctly to ensure they attract, engage and retain the best person for the role.

This is the tough reality for Australia’s disability sector who’ve seen a major employment shake-up following the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). According to the Australian Disability Workforce Report, turnover rates are trending upwards, and recruitment difficulty is forcing many employers to hire unqualified staff. So while 70% of employers filled their vacancies, it might come at the cost of candidate suitability.

It’s an issue that human resources consultancy, PeopleAdvantage, want to solve. Since 2002, they’ve created job design, performance management and remuneration solutions for a wide range of organisations.

One of the tools of their trade: remuneration surveys, such as the National Salary Survey (NSS). As executive director, Dallas Burgess notes, it’s essential to back their services with useful data. “We’ve been using the NSS for many years, and we know that it is as comprehensive as remuneration surveys go.”Burgess shares key ways that good salary data enabled them to help clients, design jobs correctly, boost recruitment and improve employee retention.

Challenge: Human resources shake-up in the disability sector

With the introduction of the NDIS, Burgess observed the increased importance of understanding individual job roles. “There’s been a move to person-centred care and support. What that means for disability service organisations is that they need to grade jobs more accurately and pay accordingly.”

Burgess explains, “A disability service organisation must understand and capture the complexity level on each of the standard roles. At the same time, they must use relevant language to market each of the positions.”

When disability service organisations get this wrong, they not only run the risk of hiring the wrong person for the job but also presenting clients with inaccurate descriptions of the service their people offer. “So the challenge comes with being able to compare apples with apples as far as roles are concerned,” said Burgess.

Solution: Using job level information from remuneration surveys

PeopleAdvantage turned to a tried and tested methodology. Burgess explains, “We designed a capability framework based on sound job design and work value principles for the disability sector in NSW.”

Organisations across the disability sector now use Their role requirements framework. “The framework is based on our role requirements methodology whereby we use standard levels of complexity of work.”

Burgess uses engineering to explain. “The engineers were the first professional discipline back in the 1970s to identify five to six levels of professional work. What we’ve found over the years is those five to six levels apply to all professions.”

“What we do is we standardise the NSS against our job evaluation points. This allows the client organisation to match the survey data to their roles,” explains Burgess.

He adds, “We then use the NSS to build a comprehensive picture of the market, eliminating outliers and statistically smoothing the data. Our use of the NSS provides an opportunity for our clients to compare apples with apples.”

Results: Good job design creates competitive employers

One organisation that PeopleAdvantage has helped is Cerebral Palsy Alliance (CPA), who also contributes regularly to the NSS. CPA’s general manager, people and culture, Frank Sedmak, recognised that the NDIS significantly changed the HR landscape. “Now, the disability sector has so many roles that didn’t exist prior to the NDIS. It’s become even more imperative to really understand – objectively not subjectively – what role we need, what level of competency is it, and what is the market asking. Or else we can’t compete with other employers.”

However, Sedmak believes that these changes reinforced the importance of good job design. “Everything starts and finishes with the client’s needs. Once you understand client needs, you then start to anticipate what roles will meet those needs. Then you need to learn the level of complexity for that role. Only after fully painting this picture should you go out and start recruiting.”

The result is that CPA is one of the most desirable employers in the industry. Sedmak explains, “We needed to dispel the paradigm that working for a not for profit meant a drop in dollars.”

“What surveys like the NSS tells us time and time again, is that CPA is more than competitive when it comes to pay. Job applicants are regularly surprised at how close the remuneration we’re offering is to what they’re expecting. In some cases, we’re paying more than commercial organisations,” Sedmak added.

Remuneration surveys: A vital tool for HR decision makers

When it comes to employment success, Burgess has a simple mantra: get the jobs right. “Retention starts when you have properly designed jobs and therefore pay people correctly. If the jobs are not suitably designed, it leads to conflict around expectations between managers and staff, which leads to frustration and losing good performers.”

That’s why Burgess relies on only the most reliable information sources. “As far as published remuneration surveys go, the NSS is a robust survey, and certainly it should be on the shelf.”

Sedmak agrees, adding, “Some question the ROI on annual remuneration surveys. People shouldn’t disregard it. Some surveys that cost little or nothing. For these I say as always, you get what you pay for.”

If you want to improve the way you design jobs to increase employee retention, order the National Salary Survey now.  


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