ALM Intelligence Q&A with CRI’s Mary Rizzuti

With the U.S. economy near full employment, managing compensation has become a top priority for organizations seeking smart ways to compete for talent with limited rewards budgets. Mary Rizzuti, CEO of Compensation Resources, Inc. (CRI), recently sat down with ALMI’s Liz DeVito to talk about how her firm helps clients stay ahead of the game.

ALM Intelligence: What are the key challenges facing HR and compensation professionals today?

Rizzuti: Rewarding talent has become increasingly complex for a number of reasons.  While attracting and engaging a highly-skilled workforce has always been an important strategic objective for senior leadership, the challenge is greater today because employees and applicants have a wide array of opportunities that were not available several years ago.  The economy is healthy and growing, and the workforce has more choices from both a compensation and career perspective. Employees are considering how to structure their work experience through telecommuting and flex-time policies. There is increased focus on career-pathing, with a desire to understand what skills, abilities and competencies are needed to move through the organizational hierarchy.  HR and compensation professionals recognize that this new environment requires their compensation pro-grams to be strategic and not simply a collection of market data.

ALM Intelligence: How have these trends changed CRI’s approach to compensation consulting?

Rizzuti:  We’ve had to become more strategic, layering in organizational development work with the execution of our compensation consulting work.  Since our founding in 1989, we’ve built a strong brand and reputation for deep technical excellence and defensible, empirical data.  However, as a result of the strong business sense our consultants have and the complex projects we have executed, our work has become less project-driven and more relationship-driven.  We have truly become business partners to our clients, looking beyond salary administration, to bonus and incentive programs as key levers for executing business strategy.  We go to great lengths to ensure that our market pricing properly reflects the job content of a particular position, and we are skilled at making efficiencies recommendations with respect to human capital; we spend the time necessary to understand the organization, its people, strategic plan, and industry best practices.

ALM Intelligence: How are clients responding to CRI’s mix of strategic and technical compensation consulting?

Rizzuti:  The reaction has been very positive. We have a diverse portfolio of middle-market, privately-held companies and not-for-profit organizations across the US in a variety of industry sectors. They look to us for best-practices advice, but also enjoy customized solutions to meet their specific needs. We believe that no two companies are ever the same, even though they may be competitors or “peer companies”, a designation that can be misleading.  We take the position that while we may look to peer companies for foundational research and baseline recommendations, we need to provide thought leadership in order to apply best practices to our clients’ unique environments.

ALM Intelligence: How has the compensation consulting landscape changed over the past several years?

Rizzuti: Market dynamics have shifted since the global financial crisis hit in 2008. Many smaller consulting firms exited the consulting space or were acquired by larger conglomerates.  Since we service clients coast-to-coast, we are still competing against companies of our size, but we continue to compete with the larger providers, as well.  What our prospective clients are telling us, however, is that they are drawn to a company like CRI because the consulting advice we provide exhibits our strong commitment to relationship-building and successful outcomes. Every project that is executed by CRI is led by a member of our Senior Consultant Team, who, on average, has been with CRI for 18 years. We must be doing something right!

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