Game of Inches

by John Martin

Football is a game of inches, and players battle ferociously for each one. When it comes time to see if they’ve reached their goal, officials run onto the field with sticks and chains to measure the smallest gain—or impasse, or loss— which may determine the outcome.

In the National Football League (NFL), they measure off the field, too. The NFL’s Human Resources department does it continually, and Joshua Schlitzer ’00 is right in the thick of it.

“As the director of compensation and benefits, I help oversee planning and administration of the plans for the NFL’s 1,200 employees in the league office, NFL Films, NFL Media, and game officials,” says Schlitzer, who works at NFL’s Midtown Manhattan headquarters.

“In order to attract, motivate and retain our talented employees, we must constantly measure how we are rewarding them,” Schlitzer says. “Compensation scales, and setting them correctly, are very important to the NFL. While certainly not the only factor, an appropriate compensation package plays a large role in driving the performance and engagement of our employees.”

Schlitzer and his colleagues use benchmarking surveys and databases to measure how NFL compensation stacks up within the sports industry and business in general. “Individual compensation packages also have to be calibrated against peers within our organization,” he says. “Every position and every employee is different, so it’s a blend of science and art. Human Resources is the engine room of any organization. The ability to impact the performance of an organization from the inside out has always appealed to me.”

Growing up in the small town of Mountain Lakes, N.J., Schlitzer says the size and level of professor and student interaction were major factors in his decision to apply to HWS. “Looking back, it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”

Courses he recalls as influential include independent studies with Professor of Political Science Iva Deutchman and “Modern Ireland” with former Associate Professor of History John Shovlin. “The wide variety of liberal arts subjects I studied, with these and other faculty members like Associate Professor of Psychology Michelle Rizzella, had a profound effect on shaping me both personally and, though I did not know it at the time, professionally.”

After graduating with a degree in psychology, Schlitzer worked as a landscaper to save for graduate school, and then got his master’s in industrial and organizational psychology from Montclair State University. He took several temp jobs before landing a position as an assistant to the NFL’s then director of compensation and benefits. Eleven years later, the job is his.

People invariably ask him what it’s like working for the league. “What’s it like to work for the premier sports and entertainment corporation in the world? I’m not going to lie, it’s pretty sweet.”


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