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A Clear, Concise Approach to Compensation That Works

A Clear, Concise Approach to Compensation That Works

The Challenge

What does it take to build a strong, smart approach to compensating the people in your organization?


Scott Wiggins, Pinelake Church


In a recent interview, Scott Wiggins, Director of Staff, Pinelake Church, a multisite church in Mississippi, gave me their blueprint for compensation and benefits that gives you five, clear benchmarks to help you see what’s working—and where your organization might be at risk.

Spoiler alert:  By surveying annually with BCWI, and doing the needed follow-through work, Pinelake has continued to build a stronger workplace culture, thus increasing the likelihood of greater, ongoing ministry impact.

To set the table, Rewarding Compensation is one of eight drivers of a flourishing, healthy culture, spelled out in The Flourish Model. Rewarding Compensation is critical for your organization, for three reasons:

  • Fair and equitable total compensation plans provide peace of mind and a sense of satisfaction that an individual's personal and family financial needs are met.
  • Rewarding compensation practices remind employees that they are respected and valued.
  • Compensation is not a primary motivator in sustaining employee engagement, but getting it right is important. It may not be the reason an employee stays with your organization, but it may be a reason they choose to leave.

How did Pinelake “translate” these three principles into a strategy that’s helped attract and retain great talent?

[shareable cite="Scott Wiggins"]Don’t talk about salary and compensation until you say ‘yes’ to God."[/shareable]

The Blueprint

1) Commit

Equitable compensation begins with how committed your people are to your organization’s vision. Pinelake: “Our vision is to see Mississippi changed one Life Changed Story at a time.”  What is the vision that inspires, motivates, and unites your people?

 2) Research

“This is key,” says Scott.  Whether we’re participating in a salary survey, or utilizing the expertise of our elders, there are facts behind our actions and feelings about compensation.

 3) Empower

“We empower decision-making authority for compensation at the best place for our organization,” says Scott. “As the director of staff, I’m led by Tim Smith, our senior executive pastor.  He knows and endorses everything I do, and I am empowered and entrusted to execute this area of ministry. This frees staff at our campuses to pastor and shepherd people.”

4) Clarify

“In the interview process, I take the guesswork out of compensation which, at Pinelake, has two key components: spaces and faces. The organization determines a financial value for a position on our team: that’s the space. Then, we evaluate the candidate’s experience during our vetting process and arrive where that unique individual lands inside the range for the role:  that’s the face.

 5) Communicate

“At Pinelake, compensation matters. It certainly can’t be an afterthought, nor can you establish a culture where people feel uncomfortable, or even marginalized, to have a conversation in person. It’s too important not to value a staff member with the personal connection they deserve.  Because we’re a multi-site church, I do my best to travel to each of our five campuses and meet with the staff member at their office rather than having them come to me.

The Results

A blueprint for Rewarding Compensation can change your staff and your organization. Scott knows this so well.

“At Pinelake, we believe your calling is to God, not to a specific church. In light of this, our Senior Pastor Chip Henderson recently talked about ‘Five ‘Don’ts’ When You Sense God is Calling You Away.’  One of the five is, ‘Don’t talk about salary and compensation until you say ‘yes’ to God.’

“Kim Shirley is a great example of this principle. Kim has served Pinelake in a variety of capacities from administrative assistant to the director of communications. Two years ago, in a season of transition, she left our team.  A year after her departure we called her about a new job opportunity.  Interestingly, she had continued to attend and serve at Pinelake, but she wanted to be back on staff having her hand to the plow more actively.

“Her focus wasn’t on salary and compensation, but rather her ongoing commitment and calling to serve God.  She said ‘yes’ to this vision and trusted God to add all that she needed. Kim reminds me that to build a house, you have to have bricks. But without mortar, the bricks can’t hold together, and the house will not stand.  Kim is a ‘mortar’ person, and Pinelake continues to remain strong and because of her and all of our staff, God’s life-transforming change continues to be seen and felt throughout our city, our region and our state.”

It's Your Turn

When it comes to rewarding compensation, what’s one thing your organization has going for itself? What’s one area that needs to be improved?

Coming Up Next on our Continuing Series

“A Fair and Compelling Total Rewards Package”
Tara VanderSande, Senior Engagement and Talent Consultant
Best Christian Workplaces Institute