Though most of us associate succession planning with only the highest levels of leadership, identifying and developing new leaders is paramount at all levels of the organization. That said, the more essential the role, the more critical it becomes to ensure that a plan is in place in case a key player leaves – either expectedly or unexpectedly.

Unfortunately, there are several large psychological obstacles in the way of finding a successor. First, few people, if any, like to think of themselves as replaceable and even those that understand the importance of a solid succession plan will often drag their feet at the thought of implementing one. Another obstacle presents itself in the form of the “Similar to Me Bias” – we’re more attracted to candidates that look and lead like we do, leading us to be drawn to people who share the same qualities.

Similarly, the organizations that are keeping an eye out for emerging leaders are doing so by looking for very narrow traits, such as being assertive, driven and charismatic. However, there is no one-size-fits-all leadership and the qualities necessary for a given position are almost as varied as there are people who can fill it. Yet, despite these obstacles, there are some basic guidelines to getting succession planning right:

  1. Always keep an eye out for high-potential performers you can develop and promote from within, and also
  2. Broaden your perspective on what kind of leadership style is the best fit for the role, and most importantly
  3. Remember that the needs of organizations and departments change over time and that the kinds of leadership styles that will best serve them will change over time too.

Tall order? You bet. Luckily, the rising tide of people analytics is lifting all boats, from recruitment and hiring, to team development and succession planning. Cascade Employers Association is proud to be in partnership with the Predictive Index, which can identify the drives, motivations and behaviors of a potential leader and demystify what traits are necessary for a particular position that needs a succession plan.

By embedding people analytics, such as the Predictive Index, within the fabric of an organization identifying and developing talent becomes second-nature and makes it easier to overcome the psychological obstacles to succession planning. However, even organizations that are not yet using people analytics can benefit from reflecting on the questions above.

It is certainly an investment in time and energy to do so, but the benefits, in the form of higher engagement, increased productivity, stronger commitment and higher retention make it one of the wisest investments in your organization’s future you can make.

For more about the Predictive Index, visit For 10 Tips for Filling Your Talent Pool, click here.



Vintage Grow Your Money

What and When

Beginning in July, employers in Oregon will have a new option for providing a retirement solution to their employees, but it brings with it a mandate for all employers to provide a qualified savings option for their employees that will be enforced in phases over the next several years. OregonSaves, a new state-sponsored retirement plan, launches on July 1st and, according to the State Treasurer’s office, it could assist up to 1 million Oregon employees in their efforts to save for their future.

At the time of its launch, 40 Oregon employers will be participating in the pilot program with others to join in the fall.

How it Works

When an employer enrolls in OregonSaves, all of its employees are automatically enrolled in the plan and they start automatic contributions of 5% of their paycheck into a Roth IRA, with an automatic increase enforced annually until the employee is contributing 10% of eligible pay. The employee does, however, have the right to opt out of the program at any time or change the contribution amount to a percentage of their choosing.

The first $1,000 that the employee saves is invested in a low-risk “Capital Preservation Fund,” while the remainder of funds beyond the first $1,000 of savings is invested in a target date fund that is based on the employee’s age.

Employer contributions are not required, however the employer is required to remit the employee’s contributions through payroll deduction and keep contribution records for 3 years. Contributions are submitted through an online employer portal on the OregonSaves website. New employees will need to be enrolled within 60 days of their date of hire.

The Mandate

As indicated earlier, this new program also brings with it a mandate. All employers will eventually have to participate in the program or file a Certificate of Exemption. This certificate is for employers that are already providing a qualified retirement plan for their employees and are therefore exempt from participating in the OregonSaves program. The certificate will need to be revalidated every 3 years and the deadline for Oregon employers to comply is based on each organization’s number of employees.

If an employer has more than 100 employees, they must comply with the mandate this year, starting November 15, 2017. Employers with 50 to 99 employees have until May 15, 2018, while those with 20 to 49 employees have until December 15, 2018. Smaller organizations have even longer to comply, as those with 10 to 19 employees have until May 15, 2019, those with 5 to 9 employees have until November 15, 2019, and those with 4 or fewer employees have until May 15, 2020 to comply.

It’s also important to note that President Trump signed House Joint Resolution 66 in May that blocked the Department of Labor’s ruling that states could sponsor savings programs that were exempt from federal ERISA requirements. As this does not prevent automatic savings programs, the Treasurer announced last month that the launch of OregonSaves would move forward as planned. More information on the program can be found at

In Case You Didn’t Know

Cascade Employers Association offers a top-notch 401(k) solution – easier than going out into the marketplace or developing your own strategy without assistance. If you are subject to the new mandate, be sure to check with us on an alternate option.



Coconut Bliss

Now that the sun’s finally shining and our cravings for frozen desserts have escalated, let me introduce you to this member who has taken dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free and certified organic delectables to the level of pure bliss. Did you know…

  1. When they first met, Larry Kaplowitz and Luna Marcus discovered that they not only loved playing together in their kitchen in Eugene, Oregon, but they also shared a passion for natural foods. One of the things they loved was ice cream, but were unhappy with the way it made their bodies feel and were concerned about the ecological impacts of dairy farming.
  2. Larry and Luna tried all the ice creams made from soy and rice, but the taste was disappointing and their bodies still felt bad after eating those too. So, In 2004 Larry and Luna purchased a hand-cranked ice cream machine from Goodwill for $1.50 and decided to try making ice cream with coconut milk and sweetened with agave syrup. After sharing their creation with friends, everyone looked at each other and said, “This isn’t just good, it’s bliss!”
  3. Among their guests at one event were two local shop owners who asked Larry and Luna to make Coconut Bliss for their stores, both landmarks in Eugene: the Sweet Life Patisserie and the Red Barn Natural Grocery. And that’s how Coconut Bliss got started.
  4. The Coconut Bliss line-up of frozen dairy-free, gluten-free and soy-free desserts includes an abundance of flavors of ice cream, various selections of frozen bars and their popular new creation, the Coconut Bliss Sandwich. All products are now available in stores from coast to coast.
  5. Coconut Bliss is one of the coolest places to work in Eugene. Employees are treated to catered lunches by a private chef, prepared with ingredients that are organic, vegan and locally sourced. When employees need to unwind or take a break in their day, they can retreat to the Bliss Lounge. This centrally located room can be used to meditate, practice yoga or just unwind.

Cascade is pleased to feature Coconut Bliss, where hard-working people have fun making healthy and (almost) guilt-free treats.



For Sale

Hybrid jobs, or “blended jobs,” are typically unique to a particular organization, specialized industry or smaller organization and include a variety of functions and responsibilities. Many organizations create blended jobs to fill organizational needs or to capitalize on individual strengths. A Bookkeeper who also functions as the afternoon Receptionist, or a Director of Compensation who also oversees/manages the organizational Training Development are each examples of hybrid positions.

Market pricing hybrid jobs can be challenging, as most salary surveys assess standard jobs that are easily comparable from organization to organization. According to Mercer Human Resources Consulting, Inc., there are a few acceptable approaches when identifying market pay for hybrid positions.

Using a Director of Compensation and Training position as an example, (where 60% of the employee’s time is spent on compensation and 40% on training), consider one of the following approaches when market pricing:

  • The Majority Rules Approach: Match to a Compensation Director survey job and increase the competitive salary by a 10-15% premium for the additional training responsibilities.
  • The Combination Approach: Calculate a 60%/40% weighted average between the Compensation Director and the Training Director jobs.
  • The Highest Common Denominator Approach: Collect data for both the Compensation Director and Training Director and use the data of the higher-paid job.

When matching hybrid jobs to salary surveys, it is also important to consider these guidelines:

  • Not every job can be matched. Resist the temptation to create market data where it does not exist. If your job is a combination of more than two functional areas, your job is most likely not a good benchmark. If you have market data for the other benchmark jobs in your organization, develop an internal job worth hierarchy (ranking your lowest jobs to your highest jobs), then slot all other non-benchmark jobs into the pay structure. The non-benchmark jobs are slotted into the hierarchy based on their overall value to your organization in relation to the external market data.
  • Focus on major functions of the job description. Minor functions of lesser value will not change your job’s overall worth, so put the majority of your emphasis on the major functions of the job that illustrate both the external as well as the internal value of your job.

While it’s easier to follow a “standard approach” consistently, oftentimes organizational needs and circumstances will require more of a hybrid pricing approach, which lends itself to being more of an art than a science. However, by combining a formal market data analysis with sound business judgment that is based on a thorough understanding of the positions within your organization, you will be able to identify a pricing approach that is fair and suitable for your organization and your employee.

Cascade Employers Association offers a variety of salary surveys to utilize when market pricing. Our team of experienced compensation professionals work with organizations to provide a variety of compensation and research support services.

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