Birches Group, PAYMED Consulting, Announce Partnership in North Africa

New York, NY and Tunis, Tunisia (September, 2020) – Birches Group LLC, a leading global provider of HR solutions and total compensation surveys, and PAYMED Consulting, a leading HR consultancy across North Africa, have formed a strategic partnership, effective immediately.

Under the agreement, PAYMED will operate as Birches Group North Africa, and will promote, market and support a wide range of human resources solutions and services from Birches Group, including the Birches Group Community™ platform and the Birches Group multisector compensation and benefits surveys in the region. In addition, PAYMED and Birches Group will collaborate to jointly serve the needs of clients in North Africa, including Tunisia, the PAYMED headquarters location, as well as Algeria, Egypt, Libya and Morocco. The collaboration is consistent with Birches Group’s commitment to serve developing markets and support clients wherever they are located.

“We are very excited to partner with PAYMED Consulting and expand our North Africa business,” said Warren Heaps, a Birches Group Partner. “PAYMED is a well-respected consultancy in the North African market with an excellent track record in serving clients.  We believe the combination of PAYMED and Birches Group will result in a strong increase in the ability of both firms to serve growing businesses and multinationals in the region.  We share a common view about how to elevate the human resources function in the region to a strategic business function.”

Haykel Barbouch, Managing Partner of PAYMED stated:

“We are thrilled to announce this partnership.  PAYMED has served the North Africa region successfully since 2012, and now we will continue to provide our clients with a broad range of services as Birches Group North Africa.  We especially look forward to representing the Birches Group market surveys and world-class Community™ platform, including innovative solutions for job evaluation, skills assessment, and performance management.  We look forward to working together on projects to serve the interests of our clients.”

The firms will begin working together to serve clients in North Africa immediately. More information is available at www.birchesgroup.com and www.paymedconsulting.com.

ABOUT BIRCHES GROUP

Founded in 2005, Birches Group LLC is a specialized human resources consulting firm focused on an integrated approach to human resources fundamentals.  Birches Group labor market surveys are available in over 170 countries throughout Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America, and the South Pacific.  The firm also assists client organizations through the Community™ integrated platform to manage both structural challenges through job design, job evaluation and compensation management, and organization capacity using tools to measure skills, knowledge, and performance.

Birches Group is headquartered in New York, with an operations center in Manila, Philippines, and additional offices in Sweden and Latvia.

ABOUT PAYMED CONSULTING

PAYMED Consulting was founded in Tunis, Tunisia in 2012, operating in the North African markets of Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia.  PAYMED Consulting provides decision makers with decision making tools.  The firm has a global offer focusing its expertise and network on providing best practices combined with both sector-specific and general industry solutions.  Prior to entering this partnership with Birches Group, PAYMED represented Mercer in the North Africa region.

PAYMED helps  multinational and local companies to address market challenges in the short- and long-term by focusing on:

  • Human Capital Solutions – Establishing and maintaining compensation, benefits and other human resources policies;
  • Data Services – Labor market insights through compensation and benefits surveys, updated three times annually;
  • Talent Management – Assessing management capabilities, and provision of training and other interventions; and
  • Business Analytics – Assessing company performance by capturing customer feedback.

Download a copy of the press release.

Engaging and Supporting Employees During A Global Downturn: Compensation, Benefits and Virtual Work Strategies

Written by Patricia Bianca Valencia, Birches Group Senior Marketing Specialist


Organizations and governments around the world are now taking different measures to ease the impact of the global economic downturn brought about by COVID-19. Unfortunately, many organizations of different sizes and across all industries have been caught flatfooted – with very little time to strategize and prepare for the sudden pandemic.

With a growing number of cities instructing citizens to shelter in place and closing many businesses, organizations and companies are now left with declining revenue. During these challenging times, how can organizations keep a sense of normalcy, at least relative to employee pay?

If there is anything that this pandemic has made us all realize, it is that modern organizations need to be adaptable. Adaptable not only to carry on work virtually, but also adaptable by taking quick supplemental measures to partially mitigate the painful consequences of economic turmoil on their staff. We know when employers act quickly, it leads to higher staff morale and engagement, even as the crisis continues.

While there is not really a ‘one-size-fits-all’ pay policy to mitigate the impact of a recession, organizations need to be thoughtful about the way they choose to approach compensation during this pandemic. What can companies do to support their staff in the near-term? What immediate measures can be put in place, but can also be easily incorporated once the pandemic is over?

One way to mitigate the effects of a crisis is by advancing temporary benefits, such as 13th month or year-end bonuses, if they apply to your market. Alternatively, employers have the option of introducing new short-term benefits relative to the crisis. In the case of the current pandemic, medical-related loans or allowances could help staff immediately purchase basic items that they need for the duration of the crisis. These benefits can serve as an immediate support to staff and can easily be incorporated into future compensation as the crisis winds down.

In Birches Group, we did not implement any temporary benefits for our team. Instead, we expanded our normal telework policy to include the entire team and encouraged them to continue working virtually from home. We helped equip our staff to be more effective tele-commuters through the provision of mobile wi-fi equipment and laptops when necessary.

Sometimes, mitigating the effects of a crisis is not solely about money. While an additional cash benefit can certainly be helpful during a pandemic, employees also want to know the organization is looking out for their safety and the safety of their loved ones. When employees are told to come into the office despite a shelter in place order, they are part of a skeletal workforce that needs to be physically present in the office to ensure business continuity, organizations must ensure worker safety via social distancing and other appropriate measures.  Some actions to consider include reimbursements for transport in lieu of public transport, which may be considered unsafe or even suspended, and meal delivery to the office to avoid unnecessary public interactions in restaurants.

The term “non-essential” staff is often used to describe those workers who are not compelled to come to the office, and therefore, should work from home.  This is an unfortunate label – after all, if the jobs of these individuals are non-essential, why do they even exist?  We believe all jobs are essential and all employees matter, and employers should use this crisis to emphasize these points.

Birches Group also recommends that especially in times of crisis, it is critical that organizations continue to participate in salary surveys in order to monitor market movement. While it is unlikely that there will be large shifts in the labor market data until the crisis subsides, when employers make drastic and uninformed decisions (usually based on hearsay) it often results in situations that are very difficult to manage when the crisis ends. During a crisis, it is wise to keep measures calculated and incremental, grounded on data, especially when the disruption is projected as short-term. Continuing to monitor the market allows the organization to position itself effectively.

We already know this pandemic will cause an economic slowdown in many countries. It is now crucial for organizations to get ahead of the crisis by ensuring that measures are in place to ease the effects of a global recession and to allow workplace flexibility through virtual work. These measures will ensure that the organization can continue in its mission and staff engagement is at the highest possible level.

To learn more about how Birches Group can assist your organization in managing human resources during the pandemic crisis, please contact us.


Bianca crafts messaging around Community™ concepts and develops promotional campaigns answering why Community™ should be each organization’s preferred solution, focusing on its simplicity and integrated approach. She has held various roles within Birches Group since 2009, starting as a Compensation Analyst and worked her way to Compensation Team Lead, and Training Program Services Manager. In addition to her current role in marketing and communications, she represents Birches Group in international HR conferences with private sector audiences.

Attracting and Retaining Talent: It’s Not Just About Money

Attracting and retaining talent is an unending, multi-faceted challenge for human resources. There are just too many things to consider. From figuring how to make work engaging, ensuring your total compensation is competitive and equitable, providing great career opportunities, work-life balance – the list goes on and on.

Today’s workforce, primarily millennials and Gen-Zs, value your entire Employment Value Proposition (EVP), not just money, in evaluating their employment relationships.  A 2019 survey by Deloitte[1] bears this out:

Percent of Millennials and Gen-Zs who would consider leaving their employer (after 2 years and after 5 years) if they did not prioritize these issues:

It’s clear there are many facets of engagement that need to be addressed besides money, but how does money fit in?  Where does an overwhelmed HR professional start?

What is the Value of Money?

Often, the easy answer to attraction-retention issues is to throw money at the problem; some assume that a competitive salary stacked with appealing benefits is all it takes to attract the right kind of talent. When the employment relationship devolves into just the transactional (e.g. “All accounts are squared at the end of the month when you get paid.”), it ceases to be attractive, long-term, or motivating.

Not valuing money enough, though, can be equally dangerous. When compensation is done poorly, it is not just a waste of resources, it engenders perceptions of inequity (e.g. “We’re doing the same work but why am I paid so much less?”) and can easily disengage staff (e.g. “Why should I work to get promoted when the pay isn’t so much more?”).

The value of money in the attraction-retention equation must be contextualized.

What are you paying for?

Compensation is about procuring talent to get the work of the organization done: it is about paying for jobs. What does this mean?

If your organization has pay grades/levels, are your jobs properly aligned against them? Is each pay grade/level distinct enough from the others that they can form the basis for equitable pay? For example: do all jobs in your grade A have similar complexity? Do jobs in the higher-grade B (that are making more money than grade A) have higher level responsibilities? If you’re unable to answer “yes” to all these questions, then your pay has a jobs issue.

Further, if you use market data or salary surveys to design your pay scale and adjust pay, the most comprehensive and accurate external market data won’t mean much if internally, your jobs are all over the place. It would be difficult to compare like-to-like in the market if jobs are not well-defined. Market data will not fix internal job relativities (e.g. determining which jobs are more complex than others) and may even distort job relationships if the wrong assumptions are made of market data (e.g. are there really occupational differences in market data?).

So, even before the pay discussion, it is important to have a job evaluation framework that is consistently applied to slot different positions in your organization appropriately to level, that these are understood by managers and staff alike, and are seen as fair by all.

One Question, Many Complex Answers

When discussing pay with clients, after getting context about jobs, the next thing we ask clients is: “Who are you (as an organization)?”

Deceptively simple, this question opens up a much longer discussion about a concept that goes beyond just pay: the entire Employment Value Proposition (EVP). The EVP is a combination of the organization’s brand or culture, the actual work being offered, the potential for career or professional growth, and lastly, the salary and benefits that its willing to offer. So, not only does human resources have to think about ways to keep pay competitive, but also make sure the other aspects of their EVP are just as attractive.

But, coming back to pay, how much weight does compensation have vis-à-vis the rest of the EVP? Is pay the primary draw to the organization? Or is pay an afterthought, preceded by a compelling mission and engaging work that has impact? There is, of course, no wrong answer to this question, and things are not so black and white. It is likely a continuum with many shades of grey – “pay is important but…”

After answering “Who are you?” you can then focus on market composition and position. It is about how an organization can take a big market survey that is designed to reflect information of and for all comers, and target what is really relevant (composition), and target where it wants to be in that group (position).

Composition is about: “with whom do you compare?” Not all employers in a survey may be relevant. It is not just about competitors to whom you have lost talent, it can be organizations with whom you cooperate or work with. Comparators may include others in your sector as well as some from other sectors. Organizations relying on funds from donors may want to include the donors themselves.

Only when composition is settled, can position be discussed. Position is about: “how do you want to be placed against your comparator group?” Are you striving to be mid-market? Do you want to be the leader of the pack? Do you only have resources enough for a conservative position?  Is the position consistent for all levels, or do you want to be more or less aggressive in some cases?

Answering these questions should guide an organization as it defines its pay philosophy, policies, and methodology. But remember, pay is only a piece of a larger whole. Money is just a piece of your EVP, but you need to get it right as part of the challenge of attracting, retaining and motivating staff.

Attracting and maintaining key talent in your organization is a multi-faceted challenge that needs a multi-faceted solution. Birches Group’s Community™ is a human resources methodology and platform that integrates job evaluation, compensation and benefits surveys, salary scale design, skills development, and performance evaluation. Contact us to learn more about Community™ and our other services.

[1] Deloitte Insights, “The Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2019”, website  https://www2.deloitte.com/global/en/pages/about-deloitte/articles/millennialsurvey.html (accessed 22 January 2020)

Birches Group Employer Roundtable and On-site Visit to Kingston and Montego Bay, Jamaica

We are pleased to announce that Birches Group will be in Kingston and Montego Bay, Jamaica from October 7-11, 2019. We will also be conducting an employer roundtable on October 7, 2019.  The event is sponsored by Birches Group in partnership with the Caribbean HR Solutions.

The event will feature an updated presentation on Compensation and Benefits Trends in Jamaica and more information about the Birches Group surveys in the region, which is updated three times every year, in April, July and October.

This is a wonderful opportunity to meet with our clients and potential participants, share information about the challenges of managing compensation and benefits in Jamaica and to learn more about our integrated approach to HR management, Community™

For more information, please contact us.

Birches Group Employer Roundtable and On-site Visit to Belmopan and Belize City, Belize

We are pleased to announce that Birches Group will be in Belmopan and Belize City, Belize from September 30-October 4, 2019. We will also be conducting an employer roundtable on September 30, 2019 in partnership with the Belize Chamber of Commerce & Industry (BCCI). The roundtable event will be held at the BCCI office.

The event will feature an updated presentation on Compensation and Benefits Trends in Belize and more information about the Birches Group surveys in the region, which is updated three times every year, in April, July and October.

This is a wonderful opportunity to meet with our clients and potential participants, share information about the challenges of managing compensation and benefits in Belize and to learn more about our integrated approach to HR management, Community™

For more information, please contact us.

Birches Group Employer On-Site Visit to Miami, U.S.A.

We are pleased to announce that Birches Group will be in Miami, USA from September 26-27, 2019.

This visit will focus on discussions around Compensation and Benefits Trends with employers operating in the Caribbean region, as well as other information about our Birches Group surveys which is updated three times a year, every April, July and October.

This is a wonderful opportunity to meet with our clients and potential participants, share information about the challenges of managing compensation and benefits in these emerging markets and to learn more about our integrated approach to HR management, Community™

For more information, please contact us.

Birches Group Employer On-Site Visit to Nairobi, Kenya

We are pleased to announce that Birches Group will be in Nairobi, Kenya from September 16-20, 2019.

This visit will focus on discussions around Compensation and Benefits Trends with employers operating in East Africa, as well as other information about our Birches Group surveys which is updated three times a year, every April, July and October.

This is a wonderful opportunity to meet with our clients and potential participants, share information about the challenges of managing compensation and benefits in the East African region and to learn more about our integrated approach to HR management, Community™

For more information, please contact us.

Birches Group Employer Roundtable and On-site Visit to Port-au-Prince, Haiti

We are pleased to announce that Birches Group will be in Port-au-Prince, Haiti from September 16-20, 2019. We will also be conducting an employer roundtable on September 16, 2019, 9am-12pm at the Karibe Hotel.  The event is sponsored by Birches Group in partnership with Strategys.

The event will feature an updated presentation on Compensation and Benefits Trends in Haiti and more information about the Birches Group surveys in the region, which is updated three times every year, in April, July and October.

This is a wonderful opportunity to meet with our clients and potential participants, share information about the challenges of managing compensation and benefits in in Haiti and to learn more about our integrated approach to HR management, Community™

For more information, please contact us.

Birches Group Employer On-Site Visit to Dubai, U.A.E.

We are pleased to announce that Birches Group will be in Dubai, U.A.E. from September 8-12, 2019.

This visit will focus on discussions around Compensation and Benefits Trends with employers operating in the Africa, Europe and the Middle East regions, as well as other information about our Birches Group surveys which is updated three times a year, every April, July and October.

This is a wonderful opportunity to meet with our clients and potential participants, share information about the challenges of managing compensation and benefits in these emerging markets and to learn more about our integrated approach to HR management, Community™

For more information, please contact us.

Why Incumbent Data in Salary Surveys is Misleading

For many years, employers have used salary surveys to provide market references to manage compensation in their organization and to “price jobs” in the market.  Conventional wisdom suggests a high-quality, reliable survey has the following characteristics:

  • The largest possible group of participants
  • The greatest number of specific jobs
  • The highest number of incumbents reported
  • Survey statistics based on incumbent-weighted averages

In short, bigger is better.

As is often the case, we believe that the conventional wisdom is wrong!

Incumbent-based data is not job-based – it’s personal!

Think about it.

  • Salary ranges represent the range of pay an employer is prepared to offer for position with the same level of contribution to their organization (e.g., the same equivalent worth).
  • All incumbents are placed within the same internal, generic range (employers do not usually have separate salary scales for each occupational group or function).
  • Individual salary levels are not determined by any job factor!  Incumbent salaries are based on personal characteristics such as qualifications, skills, experience and performance, and organizational constraints such as internal policies and guidelines, and internal equity.

There are no job-based factors used to determine placement in the range.  It is easy to conclude using actual incumbent salaries instead of salary ranges is — at best – misleading, if not entirely invalid.  But don’t take our word for it.  Let’s put it to a test.

Salary Range Data is Highly Correlated to Incumbent Values

Birches Group did an analysis of actual incumbent data values and the corresponding salary range values for BG-10 level Senior Working Professional roles in Jamaica.  The dataset included positions from seven different job families.  Twenty-nine employers reported data at this level.

To start the analysis, we examined each discrete position reported by each employer.  In the chart below, the positions are color-coded by occupation (job family), and each employer is represented by a vertical array of dots.  The chart shows all observations, not a specific percentile.

You can see there is a wide variety of values, both within each employer and across different ones.

Next, we examined the salary ranges for these employers, and determined how the incumbent salaries fell into each employers’ salary range.  The chart below shows the ranges.

It’s clear that except for two employers with no formal range defined (the two single dots in the chart circled in red), the rest all have salary ranges defined.  Some of the incumbent values are distributed across the ranges, while some are more clustered, but they are all within the range!  You will also notice that the range spans (the “distance” from minimum to maximum) varies quite a bit – some employers use narrow ranges, others wider ranges, depending on their unique circumstances and requirements.

A common benchmark that many clients use is the 50th percentile or median of the market.  While we could debate the definition of “the market” (and we will in another post), it is possible to measure the median of the salary ranges in a market.

For BG-10 in Jamaica, the subject of this analysis, the 50th percentile salary range is J$ 6,273,150 to J$ 9,576,152.  We calculated these numbers by simply separately calculating the median of all the reported minimum values, and all the reported maximum values. The next chart shows this median range added to the incumbent chart.

Now you can see which incumbent data points are within the 50th percentile range in the market.  It’s important to realize that a percentile value in a salary survey should never be a single number; it should always be a salary range.  If you rely only on incumbent data points when using surveys, you are missing out on what is really happening in the market.

Combining the two prior charts yields the next one, which shows the employer salary ranges against the 50th percentile (shaded blue horizontal bars):

You can observe that just 6 employers (about 21% of the sample) have ranges that are totally outside of the 50th percentile range of the market.  Or stated another way – nearly 80% of employers have a salary range that intersects with the market median range.

We also examined the data by occupation, looking at the mean range for each occupation versus the market.

In the above chart, you can see, aside from Logistics and Program, which were matched by fewer than 8 employers and not truly representative, the rest of the occupational data ranges fall well within the overall 50th percentile.  In other words, the occupation or job family doesn’t impact the going rate for a job very much at all, and it would be very easy to just use the overall data, without any occupational designations, as the basis to determine your market position.

Think about it.

You go crazy trying to match multiple benchmark jobs in surveys.  Then you take that data and apply a secret formula (perhaps weighted averages by incumbent count, for example) to arrive at a “going rate” for your midpoint.  But the data you are combining isn’t really that different; our data shows you could just take the range we report and go from there.  Much easier.

A New Vision for Salary Survey Data

Birches Group believes that salary survey data should be job-based, not personal.  Salary ranges represent for an employer the potential range of salary which the organization is willing to pay for a job at a specific grade level in the organization.  In other words, the range represents the value the organization attaches to all jobs at that grade level, which are deemed to have equivalent worth because they have been evaluated to the same grade.  Salary ranges, not incumbent data, represent job-based values which are appropriate for benchmarking salaries.

By comparing salary ranges instead of incumbent data, employers avoid using personal data, which is volatile and introduces a level of false precision which is misleading when specific jobs or occupations are compared to each other.

Introducing Community™ Market

Community Market is the new name for the Birches Group salary and benefits survey.  The survey format has been streamlined and simplified and includes several new features, including an easy and convenient way to assess your market position at a glance.  Another important change is the way job information will be captured.  We will no longer show separate market values for each benchmark job.  Instead, we will show data aggregated for all jobs at the same Birches Group level.  We will still identify which jobs are in which grade, but as we’ve demonstrated, the occupational differences reported in surveys (including ours) are resulting from personal data, not job-based information, and are not appropriate for benchmarking.

Beginning in October 2019, the new format will be the standard report output for all our surveys.  And starting in April 2020, we will no longer collect incumbent-based data since it will no longer appear in the survey reports.

Community™ Market is part of the Birches Group Community™ platform for integrated HR management.  The platform includes modules for job evaluation (Community™ Jobs), skills assessment (Community™ Skills) and performance management (Community™ Performance) in addition to market surveys.  The job levels established using our Community™ Jobs methodology are used to provide job levels in our surveys, and to assess skills and performance against standards that reflect the same job levels.  It’s the first integrated approach to human resources management.

Learn More

Contact us to learn more about the changes in our survey methodology, or to explore how the Community™ platform can be useful for your organization.