“Everybody wants to know how much everybody else makes. Everybody wants to know if they don’t make that much, why?”
“It’s like a whole other job figuring out stipends as opposed to just base compensation.”
“Every compensation system reveals what the employer ultimately values and incentivizes. The traditional salary structure more than anything values stability and longevity, but it does not put a premium on impact or on performance.”
“What we’ve seen is that people want agency in the decision [about changes to a compensation system]. Even ultimately if you don’t go with them . . . they want to be heard.”
Your peers are talking about compensation at their independent schools. It’s likely you have been talking about compensation at your school. Whether it’s hiring in a hot labor market, considering how to retain key employees, reconsidering health insurance offerings, wrangling stipends or another of countless related issues, compensation is critical at every school. It’s the largest line item in the budget and quite simply makes the mission possible, by recognizing and rewarding those who teach the students and handle essential operations.
NBOA’s research team spent over a year collecting data from more than 400 independent schools in regard to their compensation strategies. In addition to conducting a thorough review of scholarship and existing data, the team conducted a quantitative survey, focus groups and interviews, thanks to generous support from the Edward E. Ford Foundation. The quotes above are just a few examples of the copious insights independent school chief financial officers, human resources directors and heads of school shared as they discussed both challenges and creative solutions in terms of compensation at their schools.
And now resources stemming from that research are here to help independent schools of all sizes, locations and missions consider their compensation systems and how they might adjust them to recruit and retain mission-aligned faculty, staff and administrators. At the outset of the initiative, the research team thought they might discover a singular compensation system, beyond the traditional step and lane model, that worked well for all schools. But what they found after deep analysis was that any reform or adjustment to a school’s compensation system should be mission aligned, context specific and market responsive.
To help schools understand the current landscape, determine what may work for their school, and implement new strategies, NBOA has released the following resources:
- Research findings
- Implementation guide
- Case studies of innovative practices
- Executive summary of the findings
- Additional tools, including a sample benefits survey and list of creative benefits
Find all these resources and more on our Mission-Anchored Compensation Strategies web page, and register for the webinar this Thursday, October 26 at 3 PM ET. This webinar is free for both NBOA members and nonmembers. The web page lists additional live programming related to the research and resources, including a pre-conference workshop at the 2024 NBOA Annual Meeting. To access the resources, you will need to sign in. If you are not an NBOA member and don't already have an account, you can create a free account when prompted to log in.