Results of the Sibson Consulting study conducted on Ocean Pines employee wages and benefits show the Association generally is in-line with comparable organizations, if not slightly below those levels.
General Manager John Viola said he incorporated a process to address the findings in the preliminary draft budget.
The Association commissioned the review in July at a cost of about $50,000. According to Sibson, the study considered roughly 215 nonseasonal, seasonal and police workers.
Sibson said it took into consideration the following factors:
- “As the largest HOA in the area, Ocean Pines is in essence a municipality organized for governance as an HOA.”
- “There is a need for a multi-pronged market comparison approach involving other HOAs, small municipalities, counties, and companies within the local area.”
- “Employees are the backbone ofOPA, andfeel like the organization is family. There is a good, collaborative, team-based work environment, especially with the recent introduction of combined Board and Staff Work Groups for various initiatives and trust being built by the new General Manager.”
During the last three months, the company spoke with stakeholders, including Board members, “to understand the challenges of the current compensation program and hear about the desired future state.”
Sibson developed a compensation philosophy based on that information, conducted market assessment of positions, and developed salary structures and ranges.
Sibson received organizational aid from General Manager John Viola, Executive Secretary Michelle Bennett, Payroll/Human Resources Coordinator Kathy Stryjewski and department heads “to review the matching of the jobs to the market and preliminary costing results.”
The market assessment included 11 comparable organizations: Captain’s Cove, Crofton Civic Association, Berlin, Ocean City, Rehoboth Beach, Salisbury, Salisbury University, the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Wor-Wic Community College, Wicomico County, and Worcester County. Other communities suggested for review, including the Columbia Association, chose not to take part or were unresponsive.
Based on the data collected, Sibson said Ocean Pines in aggregate is “at 84 percent of the market 50th percentile of the competitive range.” The company defined the desirable range as 90 to 110 percent of the market 50th percentile, meaning the overall compensation package is slightly below the recommendation.
Sibson developed a minimum, mid-point, and maximum salary range for each position, and Viola and other staff graded each employee on a 1-to-5 scale during mid-year reviews. Out of more than 200 employees, Sibson considered 22 as below the minimum salary range. The cost to bring those workers up to the minimum, as was the recommendation, was about $34,000.
Additionally, eight employees of the Ocean Pines Police Department were below the minimum, with the total cost to bring them up being about $28,000.
Sibson only considered one employee above the maximum compensation range.
Viola said the study was “objective, independent and data driven.”
“It was also important to have current job descriptions and a current organizational chart, and staff available for phone interviews with Sibson. All of that happened,” he said.
Equally important, according to Viola, was that everyone understood the study results.
“Several meetings were held [by Viola] for every department. Their feedback was very valuable and their comments were positive,” he said. “I believe that staff was appreciative that the study was done, that it was explained and communicated, and that leadership listened to them.”
Stryjewski agreed it was a worthwhile endeavor.
“This objective and independent compensation study through Sibson has assisted OPA in providing transparency to our employees regarding compensation and benefit benchmarks for comparable positions outside of OPA,” she said. “It has also assisted in the development of an improved rating structure, with appropriate salary ranges revised for all positions.
“It’s important that OPA employees understand thoroughly their compensation and benefits, and how we compare to outside businesses, so they can feel confident in their employment,” she added.
Association Secretary Colette Horn thanked Viola for his part in the process, which included a review of the study methodology and results during a Budget and Finance Advisory Committee meeting on Wednesday.
“The work that John and his staff did contributed to the achievement of the timeline and the cost containment while still getting everything we wanted from this study, and then some,” she said. “The work done by the Sibson Group met my expectations for independence in the review of our job descriptions and classifications, and for appropriateness and breadth in the selection of business entities used to benchmark our compensation and benefits offerings.
“The final product achieved the objectives I had in mind when I submitted the motion to the Board to approve the study: to provide the information we need to forecast compensation costs, to focus an analysis of our organizational structure, and to give us a framework for annual compensation decisions that are based on marketplace benchmarks, as well as the ongoing appraisal of the link between employee performance and attainment of organizational objectives,” Horn added.
What’s more, Horn said the study helped to “trigger much-needed changes in our employee performance appraisal process, such that we now are in line with current best practices.”
“Our Board has worked hard over the past two and a half years to implement the mandate of our governing documents that things run in a business-like way,” she said. “I can now say that our HR practices are much closer to meeting that ideal than in the past. And the bonus is that we were able to achieve all this at well below the cost figure that was projected for the study.”
Budget and Finance Committee Chairman Dick Keiling added his group was “pleased to review the completed compensation study.”
“Having been involved in this type of study in my past, it’s evident the process was professional, thorough, and included all of the important components,” he said. “This is something OPA has clearly needed and now provides our valued employees with a comprehensive, first-rate compensation program.”
Viola plans to publicly discuss the study during the next regular Ocean Pines Board meeting, scheduled on Wednesday, Dec. 4 at 7 p.m. in the community center on 235 Ocean Parkway.