Compensation Management in HRM: Definition, Objectives, & Types

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Compensation Management in HRM
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When we hear the word ‘compensation’, our mind quickly runs towards salary. However, salary is merely a part of the compensation package. The HR department is the one that develops the compensation packages for the employees of an organization. They are in charge of continuous compensation management throughout the company.


So, why exactly do we need to ‘manage’ employee compensation? Is it relevant enough for the employees? Aren’t they satisfied with their salary component since they haven’t switched ships? If one is set to manage compensation, what challenges would one face? And what objective does compensation management serve?


Let us find out!


What is Compensation Management?

Compensation Management is a strategy of planning and distributing overall pay and other benefits to the company employees. The practices help employers manage company benefits programs, keep up-to-date job classifications, maintain low risk during talent management, and analyze the salary packages meeting the overall needs of employees and their families.


The right compensation management process ensures that salary packages remain competitive, meet the market standard and are equitable within the company. A company’s compensation program is one of the main reasons for enhanced employee retention and company productivity. Often, employers integrate payroll software and payroll-related tools for strategising compensation rightly.


4 Objectives of Compensation Management

Since we understand the types and importance of compensation management in HRM for any company, let us identify the four objectives that it helps to fulfil:


1. Reward and Recognition

A good compensation package also includes rewards and recognition that the employee can receive for their performance and achievements. People love being appreciated for their hard work. With a compensation package that includes an adequate quota for rewards, the employees would be motivated to put their best efforts into completing their daily tasks.


2. Equity

A robust compensation management structure also ensures that everyone is treated fairly when it comes to compensation for their work. It helps create a transparent and fair compensation structure for all company employees and ensures that there are no partiality or wage gaps regarding the employees’ race, ethnicity, or gender.


3. Retention

Since employees are the most valuable resources for any organization, HRs take several measures to ensure that they stay longer with the company. With the help of a well-structured compensation plan and transparent salary slip format, HRs can retain the employees whom they groomed to work well with their company. Effective compensation lets the employee stay longer for the non-monetary benefits. It also helps in attracting top talent.


4. Compliance

The compensation management plan also considers all of the legal compliances required by law. Hence, it takes care of the legal aspects of employee compensation. Compensation management software is especially considered an added advantage in this case as it would automatically take care of the legal regulations and even highlight any discrepancies while setting the compensation for any designation in the company.


Importance of Compensation Management

The relevance of compensation management lies in its ability to help attract and retain talented staff members while staying within the predefined budget.


Other major benefits of compensation management include:

  • Keeps the employees motivated to put their best efforts into the success of the company
  • Improves employee productivity by compensating them with rewards and recognition
  • Helps stay within budget while also providing competitive salaries
  • It helps reduce employee turnover by providing incentives and additional benefits.


Types of Compensation Management

Every company follows two types of Compensation Management in HRM: direct Compensation and Indirect Compensation. Let’s discuss the details.

  • Direct Compensation
  • Indirect Compensation


1. Direct Compensation

Direct Compensation is the amount of money that employees receive in return for their work. It mainly refers to financial benefits like house rent, basic salary, conveyance, and medical reimbursement. Here are the following options for direct pay.

  • Base Salary
  • Overtime pay
  • Incentives
  • Bonuses
  • Hourly Pay


➔ Base Salary

A base salary is a fixed amount of money that an employee receives regularly as compensation. It is distributed monthly, quarterly, or annually. Employers settle an employee’s base salary based on factors like the employee’s job role, experience, and market rates.


➔ Over Time Pay

According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), overtime pay is considerable for employees who work more than 40 hours a week. Normal 40 hours/week working hours create a work-life balance.


Employers have to pay the compensation the employees get for working longer than the standard hours.


If employees work 50 hours instead of genuine work hours, they become eligible for overtime compensation for an extra 15 hours. However, the compensation rate varies between companies and between employee positions, duties, and responsibilities.


➔ Incentives

Incentive pay is also considered direct compensation pay. Employers often reward employees and arrange incentives for their outstanding performance. The incentives are not always monetary; employees receive rewards such as gift certificates, company equity, vacations, etc.


An incentive program motivates employees to focus on the work outcome. It leads to employee retention and productivity.


➔ Hourly pay

Hourly pay is the salary paid for each hour of work that the employee does. The company arranges the hourly pay for the gig workers or consultants who work for a certain period for the company.


➔ Other Allowances

Along with basic pay, employees receive additional allowances like HRA, medical allowances, educational allowances, and travel allowances. The organization determines the rate of these allowances.


2. Indirect Compensation

An indirect benefit is non-cash compensation for employees. It can be referred to as perks or benefits attached to total compensation, including all monetary and nonmonetary benefits. Here are the following options for indirect pay.


➔ Insurance

Companies provide employees with different types of medical insurance, life insurance, and other term insurance.


➔ Paid holiday

Employers often arrange paid holidays for employees to take care of their work-life balance.



An ESOP is an employee stock ownership plan. Companies often provide ESOPs to employees to ensure that the employee can buy an ownership interest in the company in the form of shares of stock.


Compensation Management Process

There are various steps undertaken while developing a robust compensation management process that helps in making the right decisions and fulfilling its objectives. These steps are:


1. Compensation Statistics

The first step in developing a compensation management process is to understand the job market landscape. HR is required to research the current market trends and understand the salary structure of other companies in the same business domain.


However, it is easier said than done since it involves many variables, such as industry-wide average salary, cost of living, inflation, etc. It also helps upper management understand the job market.


It also helps HR to develop a competitive salary structure by allocating a specific budget for employee salaries and associated benefits included in their compensation package.


2. Salary Structure

Once HR has a good idea of the compensation statistics and compensation process of competitors in the same industry, it can start developing a salary structure. They use various approaches to develop a company’s salary structure.


It is a crucial component of compensation management planning. Developing a salary structure requires creating pay grades based on the role and its responsibilities, the experience and the skill level required.


Hence, HRs usually create and place ‘markers’ for salary increments, based on which the base salary, bonuses, commissions, and other non-monetary benefits are decided.


3. Job Description

Now that you have a good idea of the job market and have a robust salary structure in place, it is time to develop accurate and clear job descriptions for each role that explicitly state all of the requirements of the position.


The job description helps the potential candidates to understand whether the employer is looking for them specifically. It avoids time wastage on unsuitable candidates as they would not approach. Hence, the job description needs to accurately inform the candidate of the experience and skills required, as well as let them know the range of remuneration offered for their work.


Challenges in the Compensation Management

When it comes to compensation management in HRM, there are 2 major challenges:


➔ Job market trends

The job market landscape is constantly changing. HRs are required to keep themselves abreast of the latest developments to ensure that the company’s compensation packages are in sync with existing trends.


Considering the variety of designations and the differences in local laws (in the case of multinational enterprises), it becomes quite challenging to keep a tab on all of the market changes. Again, a robust compensation management system helps in this scenario by being able to fetch the latest data and parse it to provide meaningful data for HR.


➔ Employee expectations

Another major challenge with compensation management is the gap between current employee wages and expectations. Companies try to find the best talent within the most cost-effective range, but employees wish to get the maximum benefit.


Hence, companies are constantly trying to anticipate employee expectations and trying to find innovative payment options to minimize the cost while maximising their employee job satisfaction. For example, the current millennial generation prefers additional perks and benefits over a salary raise. However, the older generation would prefer to have an employment pension over a pay raise.


Best Practices for Managing Employee Compensation Effectively

Since we have touched upon every theoretical aspect of the compensation management process, here are some practical steps to help you manage your employee compensation effectively.


➔ Right Budget

The compensation provided for each role should be set based on market data and company objectives. It should be fair for both the employee and the employer. The compensation package should also specify what percentage of the salary should be allocated and how much should be allocated for additional perks and benefits for each role.


The right budget would also consider the employee’s location, experience, and skill and allow for adjustments as needed.


➔ Flexible Salary

With the budget allotted for each role, HR can set an upper and lower limit for the salary provided to each role. This kind of flexible salary provides HR with a range to work on and hence, provides a competitive advantage. It can also help attract a wide variety of candidates and the range can be widened and narrowed based on the current requirements of the role.


➔ Statutory Compliance

Almost all countries have salary and pay-related laws. HR needs to ensure that their compensation management plan considers these laws and abides by them. Defying even a single one of wages-related laws might lead to expensive lawsuits and even the cancellation of the company’s business permits. Hence, HR needs to ensure that the company’s compensation management plan is in line with each of these laws.


➔ Compensation Management Software

With the digitalization happening in the HR domain, all modern companies should implement some form of compensation management software. One can either opt for a standalone compensation management system or have it as a part of their Human Resources Management System (HRMS). It will ensure that this process becomes efficient and automated for HR.


➔ Documentation and Review

Once the compensation plan is set in place, make it a point to document it and review it regularly. Since the job landscape changes all the time, your compensation management strategy should reflect these changes correctly. Hence, documenting it would provide other team members with the objectives of implementing each plan while reviewing it would help in keeping it up to date with the latest job market trends.



Compensation management is not rocket science. With a dedicated HR team and some patience, one can develop a compensation management strategy in a month. However, add compensation management software to the mix, and the same plan can be developed within a week. We hope that this guide has been beneficial to anyone developing a compensation management strategy.


FAQs on Compensation Management


1. What does Performance-based Compensation Mean?

When an employee earns a reward beyond receiving their traditional wages, this is known as Performance-based Compensation. For example, we can consider the employee year-end bonus or the financial initiative performance-based compensation.


The main objective behind this approach is to encourage employees to perform well in their job roles and have a positive impact on the company’s business success.


2. What is the Main Purpose of Compensation Management?

The key purposes of Compensation Management are:

  • Attracts high-quality candidates and facilitates smooth onboarding.
  • Inbuilds employee satisfaction and retains skilled employees for a long.
  • Enhances employee engagement, thus leading to achieving organizational goals.
  • Helps establish transparency and consistency in pay practices.
  • Assist organizations in maintaining financial resources and goals aligned with budgetary control.


3. What are the 3 P’s of Compensation Management?

The 3 P’s of Compensation Management are following:


1. Pay for Position

The first ‘P’ stands for ‘pay for position’. It ensures compensation based on the position within the organization. Employers check whether an employee’s job responsibilities and skills are aligned with the market value. Once the job evaluation and salary survey are completed, the employees receive a fair hike for that position.


2. Pay for Performance

The second ‘P’ stands for performance. It mainly focuses on employee performance. Employees who perform well for a specific duration, such as monthly, half-yearly, or yearly, are rewarded with lump-sum bonuses or incentives.


3. Pay for Person

The final ‘P’ stands for ‘Pay for Person’. It describes the compensation of employees based on their individual characteristics, such as skills, experience, and competencies. Highly educated employees or experienced talents are considered within the third ‘P’. Organizations hire them with extra compensation to meet company goals and earn success.


4. What is an Example of a Compensation Management System?

Compensation can be gifted in salary, extra leaves, vouchers, a pension fund, stock options, or vacation. A year-end bonus is an example of the Company’s compensation management.


5. How Many Types of Compensation Management are there?

Compensation management is divided into two types: direct and indirect. Direct compensation includes four main types.


1. Direct Compensation

  • Hourly

The contractual workers are paid hourly compensation on a daily basis.

  • Salary

Salary is paid to the permanent workers for their work responsibilities as regular monthly earnings.

  • Commission

Companies provide commissions to the sales teams to achieve sales targets.

  • Bonus

Employees receive bonuses for their outstanding contributions to business success.

  • Tips

Tip is considered as a direct pay service for workers. Restaurant companies most often use it.


2. Indirect Compensation

The indirect compensation is classified into,

  • Equity Package

Employees receive company shares from the organization as a token of appreciation for their long-term assistance.

  • Stock option

Employees get assistance from companies in purchasing a fixed number of shares for a specific tenure.

  • Benefits

Employees receive numerous benefits like healthcare benefits, travel benefits, and retirement plans as employee compensation.


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