I often encounter individuals eager to embark on a career in Human Resources (HR). Regrettably, very few express a desire to specialize in compensation. This lack of interest makes it challenging for businesses to fill vacancies within compensation teams. The issue is not that compensation roles are unattractive; rather, there seems to be a mismatch between the common interests of those pursuing HR careers and the real work involved in compensation.

If this is a challenge you’ve faced, know that you’re not the only one. But what causes this disconnect? Let’s examine how leaders feel about HR problems in filling compensation roles.

Is This a Problem Leaders Want to Solve?

Experienced managers discover there are real solutions to their talent acquisition problems, but all too often leadership lacks the initiative (or desire) to pursue them. This reluctance stems from the belief that many solutions are somehow too cumbersome or complex to pursue. Other business priorities overshadow the problem at hand, and comp professionals are left to carry the extra weight themselves.

This scenario is no doubt frustrating for the many who’ve experienced it. Are you among them? Have you considered your own possible solutions? Even if you’re unsure how to get leaders on your side now, ponder which scenarios are most suitable and, if needed, bide your time. When the time is right, leaders may recognize the value of building a stronger pipeline of compensation pros. 

Here are some ideas you can address a talent shortage in your own sphere of operations, along with ways you can approach leadership about their potential.

Potential Solutions to a Lack of Compensation Pros

  • More investment in internal development. Compensation is a specialized field. Accelerating the development of new staff from HR generalists to compensation specialists will require an in-house investment – in this case, senior team members who spend extra time mentoring their junior peers. Though taxing in the short term, this solution will quickly pay off if you’ve hired bright, quick learners.
  • Invest in software.  As noted earlier, compensation software is the number #1 solution that will enable you to do more in less time, reducing the pressure to increase your headcount. Unfortunately, compensation planning exercises are notoriously manual, tedious work. Yet companies persist in running these processes manually because they prioritize flexibility over automation. But this is a false construct. You do not have to choose between flexibility and automation. Effective compensation software (such as CompXL) gives you labor savings from automation while also making it easier to be flexible.
  • Promoting the profession to students. Compensation is an appealing career, in part due to its security. So long as people are being paid, compensation professionals will have a job. However, students often overlook these roles due to a lack of visibility. Collaborating with local colleges to promote compensation as a desirable position in a technical field could spark new interest in the role. Consider connecting with a local college and offering guest lectures or appearing at job fairs. A small investment in the present could fill your talent pipeline in the future!
  • Hire interns. One of the most effective ways to discover young talent is to hire interns. Don’t view inexperienced workers as burdens; see them as investments. Treat them well and assign them meaningful work. Like other forms of development, interns may consume some of your senior staff’s time, but the interest is well worth it if it leads to experienced talent on tap when a vacancy arises.
  • Global gig to perm. As remote work becomes more prevalent, overseas talent may be a more valuable (and more accessible) resource. You can get a feel for potential candidates by hiring gig workers for small projects through platforms like Upwork. Find a reliable gig worker? Consider transitioning them to permanent roles.

All these strategies emphasize investing in today’s potential to develop tomorrow’s talent. Your leaders might prefer the age-old strategy of luring experienced compensation professionals away from other companies. While this is a common approach, if the whole industry is grappling with a talent shortage, the effort becomes much harder.

These approaches can all be practiced on a small scale. When planning for your own long-term success, think: Is there something you can do this year that will help build the talent pipeline you need for the next?


CompensationXL is the flexible compensation planning solution for merit, bonus, long-term awards, and total reward statements, enabling mid- to large-size organizations to implement competitive pay structures such as vested stock options and variable incentive pay.

www.compensationxl.com  .   [email protected]  .  Dial: 866-376-7769

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