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Ken Gibson

Ken is Senior Vice-President of The VisionLink Advisory Group. He is a frequent speaker and author on rewards strategies and has advised companies for over 30 years regarding executive compensation and benefit issues.
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By Ken Gibson

December 06, 2018

4 Keys for Determining Employee Pay Levels


It seems like it should be simple, right?  Determining how much to pay someone, that is.  But in an environment where the compensation offer you make can determine whether or not you secure the talent you want, it’s not easy.  And as the talent war intensifies, so does the difficulty of finding the right pay levels.  If you underpay, you risk losing a key person to a competitor.  If you overpay, you unnecessarily dilute profits.  So, what do you do?  How do you determine the “sweet spot” in the amount of pay you offer?

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By Ken Gibson

November 15, 2018

5 Talent Trend Predictions for 2019


It’s that time of year.  Most company leaders are pushing to make sure their organizations end 2018 strong.  At the same time, they are feeling an urgency to make sure they can hit the ground running in 2019.  There’s no pausing anymore.  Business has become like a continuum of exponential change that relentlessly demands that companies adapt, move quickly, step it up, get better, accelerate results, compete at a higher level and constantly look ahead to see what hurdle or opportunity is on the horizon. 

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By Ken Gibson

November 01, 2018

The 3 Parts of an “Irresistible” Pay Offer


Let’s face it, it’s becoming harder not easier to attract top talent.  (Raise your hand if you’re not finding that to be true.)  And without great people, your business growth becomes stifled because a high-performance culture never really takes root.  You need strategic leaders to help you do that.  So, bottom line, you simply must have a value proposition that is second to none.  And at the core of a winning employee value proposition is a pay offer that no one could possibly refuse.  One that is “irresistible.”

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By Ken Gibson

October 26, 2018

Rewards Strategy Tip: Stop Paying Incentives!


Yes, you read that right.  Next year, you should get rid of that bonus plan you have reinvented five times in the last six years.  More metrics is not the answer.  A different payout schedule isn’t going to change anything.  You just need to let it go.  Incentive plans have become…old school.  They are unappreciated, ineffective and economically indefensible.  So, it’s out with the old and in with….

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By Ken Gibson

October 03, 2018

Should You Consider a Phantom Stock Plan for 2019?


Phantom Stock has become the top choice of private company leaders for sharing long-term value with high-producing employees.  Over the past 10 years, more and more have embraced its merits as the myths regarding these plans have been debunked.  Phantom equity is an ideal substitute for sharing real stock with employees as it ties the value of a long-term award to the growth of the company without diluting owner equity.  So, is 2019 the year you should implement such a plan in your company?

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By Ken Gibson

September 20, 2018

3 Rules for Retaining Your Best People


By now you know that holding onto your top talent is a high priority—and that it is getting more difficult to achieve by the day.  If you don’t develop a culture where employee engagement is prevalent, and your employer brand is highly regarded (and widely touted) by your best people, they will be tempted to pursue greener pastures.  And these days, there are many such pastures for them to consider.  As a result, you can’t afford to wait until a couple of your key people are walking out the door to start thinking about retention. 

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By Ken Gibson

September 05, 2018

3 Pay Strategy Decisions only the CEO Should Make


If you are the chief executive or president of a business, your time comes at a premium.  As a result, it must always be applied toward activities that have a strategic impact.  That’s why you surround yourself with “specialists” that can provide more granular leadership in areas that impact the organization’s ability to solve problems, create and deliver great products and meet its growth objectives.  Because of this construct, most business leaders delegate the development and implementation of compensation plans to human resources.  But this is changing and here’s why.

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By Ken Gibson

August 30, 2018

Which is Better--Higher Salaries or Bigger Incentives?


That is a question every business struggles to answer.  Some company leaders reason that paying salaries at the higher end of the market will attract the best people and therefore the company will perform better.  Others are determined to tie compensation to results and so want a high percentage of employee compensation to be “at risk.”  So is one right and the other wrong?

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By Ken Gibson

August 16, 2018

How to Develop a More Intentional Employee Value Proposition


There is a popular term these days being used in personal development circles.  The word is “intentional.”  It means you are purposeful in what you do; that you live a life of meaning and make thoughtful choices.  It is the opposite of being reactive.   It is a term I recommend business leaders adopt as well when it comes to the development of their employee value proposition.  To succeed in today’s environment you must become more “intentional” in how you define your offer as you attempt to attract top talent.  Perhaps you think you already are (intentional), but humor me. Let’s spend a little more time exploring what it means to be intentional before you draw too many conclusions about whether or not you should describe your approach that way. 

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By Ken Gibson

August 08, 2018

3 Pay Strategy Secrets for Attracting Top Talent


Why are the compensation offers you were making three years ago no longer helping you land the talent you want now?  Chances are it is because you haven’t made “the shift.”  And what is “the shift?”  It is the change business leaders have had to make over the past year or two in the way they think about their employee value proposition.  It stems from another “shift” that has occurred in that same time period— where a scarcity of skilled talent has put top performers in high demand.  Every business is now feeling the pressure to come up with something “better” so they can compete for that talent.  As a result, old formulas have to be thrown out and a whole new approach adopted.  And that is why the compensation offers you used to make aren’t cutting it anymore.

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By Ken Gibson

August 01, 2018

5 Things We've Learned from the Performance Management Revolution


About two years ago I started writing about the insurgency that was occurring in performance management.  Companies had begun abandoning irrelevant, formal employee appraisal systems in favor ongoing coaching and mentoring “conversations.”  The focus was on looking ahead, not backwards.  The revolution started with large companies like G.E., Accenture and Google but quickly spread to companies of all sizes and industries.  This trend continues and is expanding.

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By Ken Gibson

July 26, 2018

3 Reasons Your Pay Strategy is (Probably) not Competitive


If you ask most business leaders to grade their employee compensation offering, they would probably give it a B.  They would do so because they realize that if they give it an A…well, they’d essentially be saying it has no flaws.  And if they give it a C (or lower), they are admitting that they haven’t really been paying adequate attention to it—and no chief executive wants to admit that.   But here is the interesting part.  Ask those same company leaders whether or not they consider their pay strategy “competitive” and you will probably get a response that goes something like, “Well, define competitive.”  Not a good sign.

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By Ken Gibson

July 19, 2018

3 Signs Your Incentive Plans are “Successful”


Effective incentive plan design can only occur if your approach is built on the right premise.  In other words, if the premise of your plan is wrong, the plan will fail.  That said, the success of an employee incentive is not assured just because you start with the right premise.  Even a strong foundation can’t offset poor construction, whether you are building a house or a rewards plan.  So, what do you do?  How do you set an employee incentive plan up for success and how do you determine whether the approach you’ve taken is effective?

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By Ken Gibson

July 10, 2018

Who Should Participate in Your Company’s LTIP?


Most growth-oriented business leaders have come to accept that they need to provide a way for employees to participate in the company value they help create.  In particular, they know key performers expect to benefit from the revenue and profit growth they  generate—and that to attract and retain such talent, the company needs to provide a long-term incentive plan.  As a result, the question for most organizations is not whether or not they should have a plan, but rather who should participate and to what degree.  So, let’s explore some guidelines that can help you make that determination. 

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By Ken Gibson

June 26, 2018

3 Ways the Wrong Pay Strategy Can Hurt Employee Engagement


Last year, I read an article that reported on a study conducted by a highly respected global consulting firm about employee engagement.  The piece was published in an equally regarded business journal.  It discussed how, in today’s highly competitive environment for talent, companies need to become “irresistible organizations” if they want their workforce to be fully engaged.  It listed five different areas in which a company had to excel to meet the “irresistible” standard.  It then reported that compensation is not one of the five because it is considered a “hygiene” issue when it comes to engagement.  As long as it is  “adequate,” it isn’t really a significant influence.  At the time, I remember thinking, “A hygiene issue?  Tell that to the CEO who just lost two of his best people because they got better pay offers from a competitor.”

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"VisionLink has helped us successfully navigate a number of complex issues regarding our rewards programs. It has dealt with all facets of these varied issues with a high degree of competence, integrity, and straight forward advice. VisionLink's experienced team has consistently delivered first class results in a timely, professional manner and has become a valued Storm partner."

Thomas K. Grzywacz
Storm Industries, Inc.

"VisionLink has helped us successfully engineer a long-term incentive plan that has empowered our company to reward and retain key talent while increasing shareholder value. The knowledge, patience and deep experience of its team members helped us navigate a road that was unfamiliar to us. Ultimately, VisionLink designed a plan that met the high standards of both stockholders and key management employees. We have further engaged VisionLink to address our business succession and transition planning needs."

Reggie Dupre'
Dupre Logistics

"Over the past several years, National Technical Systems has engaged VisionLink to provide insight and direction on a number of executive compensation issues, as well as a performance evaluation of our 401(k) plan. Under its direction, NTS completely revamped executive level rewards to align with our business growth objectives and the strategic plan of the company. VisionLink's insight and direction have been invaluable. NTS has achieved its growth objectives and our executives feel appropriately rewarded for their performance."

Bill McGinnis
National Technical Systems

"VisionLink arrived on the scene just in time for us. We needed a new framework for our short-term and long-term incentive plans. VisionLink's modeling and forecasting process broadened our horizons and expanded our view of how to use a good incentive system to build, retain and strengthen our senior management team. We remain impressed by their expertise, professionalism and great service."

James Keng
Jimway, Inc.

"Our firm has had a long-term incentive plan for over eight years but we never quite felt like it was firing on all cylinders. We hired VisionLink to re-energize our plan, and they did it! We now have a cohesive awards strategy that's fair to shareholders and valued by our employees. VisionLink's team is technically skilled and very creative. We're happy to recommend VisionLink to firms looking to upgrade their management incentive programs."

John M
FTO Inc.

"Our company was like VisionLink's typical clients. We were great at sales and haphazard at how we compensated our people. VisionLink's process brings great clarity and confidence to our growth planning - and makes compensation a great growth capability."

Dan Sullivan
Strategic Coach ©

"The team at VisionLink helped our company structure a long-term incentive plan that parallels the company's strategy for continued growth as a global market leader within our industry. Their approach resulted in a program that our corporate team and executives embraced on both a professional and personal basis. Through VisionLink's guidance and execution, we were able to create both a motivational tool for current team members and a recruiting device to attract future executive level associates. Well done!"

Mark Rhoades
Fluidmaster, Inc.

"As a leading direct seller of scrapbook photo albums and supplies, Creative Memories has independent consultants across the country. And for over six years now, VisionLink has helped us to stay connected and administer a voluntary 409A non-qualified plan for them. VisionLink has provided support for all aspects of our plan from notification of eligibility through registration and distribution. The VisionLink support team has offered suggestions for improving processes and provided us with outstanding service year after year."

Guy Walker
Creative Memories North America