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2020 is right around the corner: see what executives predict for the 2020 year and plan smart!

The Employer Associations of America’s 2020 National Business Trends Survey shares information on what executives are doing to address the changing business climate, and executives surveyed this year indicate that they are feeling a little less optimistic. The majority of respondents (52 percent) felt the economy in the next 12 months would stay the same, with only 12 percent feeling the economy would improve, and 36 percent feeling that the economy will decline. Oregon executives reflect similar trends, with 50 percent predicting the economy will stay the same, 41 percent feeling that the economy will decline, and only 9 percent expecting the economy to improve.

“Given the feelings about the economy in the next 12 months, it seems that organizations are taking a more cautious approach to 2020,” said EAA Board of Directors Chair Mary E. Corrado. “Despite reduced confidence in the economy, 49 percent of organizations surveyed still expect a slight increase in revenue for the coming year. The talent shortage will remain a key factor in 2020. Employers will need to implement innovative talent acquisition and retention strategies to meet their business results.”

When asked on the survey what are the top challenges to their business in 2020, executives indicated:

  • Talent acquisition
  • Talent retention
  • Ability to pay competitive wages/salaries
  • Competition in general
  • Ability to pay for benefit costs

A number of the Business Trends survey questions focused on hiring and staffing practices. The amount of permanent staff planned to be hired in 2020 is down slightly to 45 percent as compared to 2019, in which 50 percent planned to hire permanent employees. Oregon Respondents did indicate 65 percent were hiring in part due to newly created jobs. The majority (87 percent) seem to be replacing employees due in part to voluntary turnover. The increase in voluntary turnover makes talent acquisition more difficult and employers will need to offer more competitive wages and be more strategic when marketing for positions.

In moving forward with their hiring practices, organizations said the top five most important factors prospective employees are looking for are fairly similar to last year’s results:

  1. Competitive Pay (80%)
  2. Good Work/Life Balance (61%)
  3. Flexibility in Work Hours (53%)
  4. Opportunities for Advancement (52%)
  5. Competitive Health Benefits (47%)

The top three reasons why it has become more difficult to hire employees in their industries are:

  1. Lack of qualified candidates (59%)
  2. Market competition/high demand (56%)
  3. Candidates want more pay than we can/will offer (44%)

With the national spotlight on pay equity, a few additional responses were added to the question, “How is your organization minimizing risk and ensuring compliance with federal, state, and local laws?” The top three responses include:

  1. Conducting internal pay audits: 49%
  2. Establishing/updating a formal compensation structure: 45%
  3. Having a formal pay equity analysis conducted: 35%

The National Business Trends Survey provides a unique insight into executives’ predictions for 2020, allowing organizations the opportunity to develop and enact business plans and actionable steps to address these predictions in the coming year. “At Cascade Employers Association, we understand the complex business environment and how that can impact your strategies and tactics in the workplace, especially when it comes to attracting, engaging and retaining top talent,” reports Jenna Reed, Vice President of HR Services and General Counsel. “Whether your organization needs support developing its compensation philosophy and structure, assessing employee engagement or consulting on your approach to talent acquisition, our exceptional team of HR professionals is here to help you.”

The EAA is a not-for-profit national association that provides this annual survey to business executives offering insights and trends for business outlooks, business investment plans, staffing levels, hiring plans, job creations, pay strategies and business challenges. The 2020 survey included 1,093 participating organizations throughout the U.S. For a copy of the full report, contact McKenna Arnold, Cascade Employers Association,

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About Employer Associations of America (EAA)
EAA consists of 32 regional employer associations serving 35,000 companies and more than six million employees. Regional employer associations are dedicated to serving their members as trusted partners that help members maximize the performance of their employees and their organization through business expertise in compliance, recruitment, retention, surveys, safety, training, and organization development. EAA’s mission is to advance a national presence and to promote local success among members through unparalleled collaboration, excellence, and efficiency. To learn more about the EAA, visit




Does your workplace see empathy and sensitivity as a strength or a weakness? Our experience is that workplaces send clear messages, intentionally or unintentionally, about the importance of developing these skills. Whatever your employee handbook says, there are day-to-day clues on the value your work culture places on Emotional Intelligence. Hopefully you are in a place where these skills are emphasized because there is clear evidence that emotionally intelligent workplaces outperform the competition.

“Data analysis of the characteristics of effective senior managers revealed Emotional Intelligence as being twice as important as Cognitive Skills, Technical Skills and IQ.” –Goleman

Over the years, Cascade Employers Association members have regularly requested training and coaching for their supervisors and managers on Emotional Intelligence. The focus seems so be on improving the performance review or coaching moments that supervisors inevitably are asked to manage.

Driving the request for training are concerns that many supervisors lack the skills to establish and maintain a positive working relationship. “We just want them to communicate better,” is a common remark.

This Emotional Intelligence stuff is rarely taught in school or in workplace orientation, so we can understand how supervisors may be caught “flat-footed” when they are asked to handle some complex employee interactions.

Emotional Intelligence skills are particularly important when we are:

  • Giving and receiving feedback/conducting performance reviews
  • Meeting tight deadlines
  • Dealing with challenging relationships
  • Not having enough resources
  • Dealing with change
  • Dealing with setbacks and failure

It is important to distinguish Emotional Intelligence practices from simply being nice. And, even though Emotional Intelligence may improve with age, it is not simply “maturity”. Emotional Intelligence is a set of skills that has the greatest impact on sustainable success with teams and teambuilding in any organization. According to research by Daniel Goleman and his colleagues: “Data analysis of the characteristics of effective senior managers revealed Emotional Intelligence as being twice as important as Cognitive Skills, Technical Skills and IQ.” Turns out this phenomenon is particularly true and important at the higher levels of any organization.

The 5 components of Emotional Intelligence that we explore with managers are:

  • Self-Awareness
  • Self-Regulation/Self-Management
  • Empathy
  • Motivation
  • Social Skills

You can see that these are overlapping and complement each other. A supervisor needs to know what they are good at and how they come across to coworkers (self-awareness) to be able to consider how to improve Motivation for themselves and for their team. It is also critical that these supervisors practice great social skills (listening, for instance) to be able to connect empathetically with any team. And effective supervision is also characterized by the ability to regulate emotional reactions and invite others into productive relating.

We are often asked, “Can these skills really be taught? Aren’t we either born with them or not?” While some may walk into the workplace with more skills than others, without a doubt, supervisors can develop these skills. Core to the successful development of Emotional Intelligence is a desire to do just that, develop the skills. And this is where our training and coaching has focused: Allowing supervisors to gain some improved awareness of their skill set and setting up opportunities for ongoing support of day-to-day practice of these vital skills.

Please come join us at one of our Emotional Intelligence Skill-Building sessions:
January 14 in Salem, January 23 in Eugene or January 28 in Tualatin.

Sneak a peek at this training here.

Even the most effective supervisors can benefit from a review of Emotional Intelligence fundamentals. My professional coach colleagues suggest that we give all leaders a chance to self-assess, a chance to find mentors, opportunities to participate in classes, connection to Emotional Intelligence resources, and space to practice all these skills (which includes a chance to make mistakes).

If you have Emotional Intelligence success stories or challenges you have faced, please connect with us and let us know what is going on in the world of Emotional Intelligence.



The Predictive Index: Decoding the Human

I came from an organization that used “Strengths Finders” to create a strengths-based culture. I like the idea of strengths and I felt connected to my own:

  1. Positivity
  2. Strategic
  3. Empathy

But I struggled with how to use that information to engage employees, build teams, and leverage strengths to obtain higher results. So when I heard about The Predictive Index’s Behavioral Assessment™, I was immediately intrigued. Additionally, I was surprised by the fact it only took me six minutes to complete the assessment.

I was amazed by how accurate the results were. I was even more floored when my colleagues discussed their results with me as well. I felt like we were able to move several steps forward in our relationship in minutes. The vulnerability the assessment inspires is tangible and effective.

As it turned out, that was just a taste of what The Predictive Index could do. While the Behavioral Assessment is a fantastic coaching and professional development tool, it can also be used with PI’s Job Assessment to ensure that organizations hire individuals that are a natural fit for the role they need to fill. And with the Cognitive Assessment, a tool that measures how quickly someone learns, PI makes it much more likely that people will be successful (and stay longer!) in their new roles.

I have never before seen a tool that addresses every stage of the employee lifecycle from hire to retire. I am both thrilled and proud that Cascade has been selected as a PI Certified Partner because I believe it has the potential to revolutionize the way we help members achieve excellence in the workplace.

I have no doubt that it will become the golden thread that links together all our services here at Cascade and I’m excited to share it with anyone who will listen – even with skeptics like me.



Woman pushing a puzzle piece into place

Nonprofits face many unique challenges when establishing executive compensation which oftentimes deals with issues like regulatory compliance, board governance, limited budgets and equitable pay across the organization. Nonprofits typically have a Board of Directors who have a financial responsibility when setting executive pay to ensure that it is fair and reasonable. This poses an ongoing challenge for many boards who are trying to be reasonable while either recruiting for top/key talent or retaining qualified and knowledgeable Executive Directors in nonprofits where the area of expertise is oftentimes very specialized.

It used to be that Executive Directors in a nonprofit were typically paid much less than their counterparts (CEO/President) in for-profits, but over time that gap has gotten much smaller. While there is an obvious difference in what drives a for-profit vs. nonprofit, nonprofits are recognizing that in order to be successful, they have to employ talented individuals and that comes at a much higher price tag. Nonprofits on average still pay less than for-profit organizations, due to the many factors that go into this such as scope of work, size of the organization and cash flow.

A good way to overcome some of the challenges when establishing executive compensation is to have a formal philosophy and strategy created and implemented. This philosophy/strategy is oftentimes developed by the board and will include how pay decisions are made (the process and who will be involved), when adjustments will be made, and the basis of salary vs. total compensation (healthcare, deferred compensation, performance, etc.). A market-based salary structure can also be very beneficial in setting base pay and staying within a defined pay range based on market data.

Performance of Executive Directors is oftentimes tied to incentive compensation and can be a grey area. It isn’t uncommon for a nonprofit to be scrutinized for rewarding executives with additional compensation for a job well-done. As the mission of most nonprofits is purpose driven, many feel that any additional cash flow should go to the purpose and mission itself rather than in the pocket of the executive. With that being said, more and more nonprofits are providing incentive compensation to executives and the incentives as a percentage of base pay has been increasing. If a company determines to set incentive pay based on a percentage of base pay, it is imperative that base pay rates are set market competitive to ensure total cash will be reasonable.

If the success of the nonprofit has surpassed far and above the budgets of earlier years, it is likely due to the efforts of the executive providing exemplary leadership to the organization. So why shouldn’t they be rewarded (as long as it is reasonable and not excessive)?

As mentioned earlier, many Executive Directors have a specialized set of credentials, and if they are successfully leading the organization, it is best to retain this key talent to solidify more successful years to come.

When looking at nonprofit executive compensation, it is very important to keep in mind the Federal Private Inurement Prohibition that strictly forbids a tax-exempt organization’s decision-makers from receiving unreasonable benefits from the Nonprofit’s income or assets. A nonprofit is guilty of offering excessive compensation when it pays employees amounts over a market equivalent wage for those positions.

Key factors to take into account ahead of time when setting executive pay to ensure that it is fair and reasonable include:

  • The current market rate paid at similar organizations for equivalent positions in similar locations
  • Whether the compensation was approved by an independent Board of Directors
  • Being able to explain the details of how and why the compensation plan was created with documentation and the process involved

Some additional factors that should be taken into consideration as well:

  • The uniqueness of the employee’s skills, education, training, experience, responsibilities, etc.
  • Job performance
  • Internal value of the position and how crucial it is to the organization
  • Any comparable roles within the organization and what they are paid

It is prudent to tie any sort of incentive pay to overall performance of the organization whether it be based on things like revenue/budget growth, net income/operating surplus, customer service/quality, etc. However, the overall make-up of the organization should never be overlooked when setting incentive pay.

There is a broader range for executive pay and compensation mix than with other positions so it is important to look at multiple survey sources when researching market data. Total budget, total number of employees/personnel costs, overhead costs, etc. should always be taken into consideration when establishing total compensation and the percentage of incentive pay. Different scenarios should be run and evaluated regularly to establish a plan that will benefit all parties involved.

Ultimately, to best protect the organization as well as those serving the organization, compensation plans should be a thoughtful decision that addresses both the strategic and best practices elements of the organization.

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