Case study: Sentis

Salary benchmarking

A credible and fair salary review process

In 2009 Sentis engaged Hay Group to assist with establishing salary market benchmarks for all existing roles within their Australian and US operations, including corporate roles.

Based in Brisbane, with offices in Perth and Denver, Sentis is a team of 70 psychologists and safety professionals who specialise in cognitive based safety and enhancing leadership performance within the heavy industry sector.

The company culture is based on authenticity and mutual respect and it is important that their remuneration process reflects this ethos. Not having benchmarked their salaries before, Sentis felt it was important to undertake the project to ensure their people were being paid both in accordance with the market and also to reflect their value to the organisation. “We had always gone by historical data based on things like what someone was paid when they joined us”, said Kirstin Ferguson, Chief Executive Officer, Sentis. “We felt it was important to go through this process to ensure that our remuneration structure reflected the value we placed in our people and to have a transparent process as we conducted the review.”

Hay Group worked with Sentis to benchmark approximately 15 roles including roles within the U.S.

Benchmarks provide tangible salary data

From a salary perspective, Sentis is an unusual organisation because it crosses the market sectors of consulting psychologists as well as heavy industry and resources – two quite different markets.

In order to understand the value drivers and business context of Sentis, Hay Group reviewed Sentis’ strategic documentation and conducted interviews with the senior management. To ensure buy-in from employees and to gather further strategic information, Hay Group also conducted focus groups with employees. Job evaluations were then conducted utilising all available information, ensuring all job relativities were logical and accurate.

The resulting ‘evaluation matrix’ was used by Hay Group Reward Information Services to compare the remuneration data for Sentis’ evaluated roles against that extracted from its PayNet salary database.

Hay Group Reward Information Services provides a cross section of national remuneration trends and practices. The PayNet databases cover 175,000 jobs from 410 organisations across Australia. “Drawing on the strength of the database, we were able to slice the salary data in different ways and look at mining companies alongside consulting companies,” states Hay Group consultant Debbie Wiggan. “We were able to see that mining companies tended to pay at the higher end of the scale and then use this information to accurately set salary benchmarks for particular roles”.

Finally and importantly, communication guidelines were provided to Sentis to ensure the final remuneration framework was fully explained to all staff.

Benefits of benchmarking

“It’s given some rigour to their salary review process and now they know they are doing it fairly,” said Debbie Wiggan.

Kirstin Ferguson also commented: “we now have tangible data when setting new salaries or reviewing remuneration annually. I can confidently stand in front of our team members and put my hand on my heart that we have a fair and credible remuneration process. It has given us a clean start for the future.”

“The process was very straight forward and timeliness was good. There was ‘ease of use’ with the process and for us in taking it forward. We would be very happy to work with Hay Group again”.