Traditionally benefits has taken a backseat to compensation in the minds of employees and executives. This may be due to the type of retiring personality that is drawn to the analytical side of benefits.
Or we can chalk it up to the fact that compensation specialists tend to be in the thick of things when it comes to talent management, what with market data analysis, designing compensation programs to attract and retain key employees, running different scenarios to make the plan fit the budget, being in the spotlight during performance reviews and trying to calculate the lowest merit increase you can still call pay for performance.
It’s been a good run but all good things must pass.
Just kidding. Companies will always need salary planning and analysis and variable compensation is hotter than ever. Nonetheless, companies are starting to move away from traditional salary planning and rely more on non-monetary rewards, such as:
- Intangibles – Things that sound simple and cost little or nothing but are hard to do well, like recognition, autonomy and great company culture.
- Tangibles – Things you can touch like free bagels, company logo mugs and iPads.
- Lame tangibles – Things you can touch but don’t really want to, like unframed certificates, chotchkies and tie pins.
- Talent development – Things that make people feel forward motion, like career development, training/mentoring and succession planning.
- Creative benefits – In addition to old hat like health insurance and 401K plans, creative benefits may include anything from retirement planning advice or aged parent care support to employee health programs and discounts.
Given the de-emphasis on cash compensation a new day is dawning for benefits professionals, who may already find themselves sharing the spotlight with their formerly sexier colleagues in compensation. Gone are the days you could get away with a standard benefits package (yawn) and average utilization rate (ho hum). Well, perhaps not gone but no longer up to snuff.
The new benefits professional designs diffentiated benefits offerings to attract and retain top talent, ferrets out the best deals for these new benefits, markets benefits programs internally, works with employees to navigate and take advantage of them, helps design the ultimate total rewards statement, demonstrates the value of the benefits to company executives…
… and is able to leap capital T with a single bound.
It’s a different world and a huge opportunity to be creative and give new meaning to the phrase ‘total compensation.’ In other words, it’s an exciting time to be in benefits.
And that’s probably not something you hear every day.
Picture courtesy of businessweek.com.
Laura Schroeder is a Compensation Strategist at Workday, headquartered in Pleasanton, CA. She has nearly fifteen years of experience designing, developing, implementing and evangelizing global Human Capital Management (HCM) solutions and holds a certificate in Strategic Human Resources Practices from Cornell University. Her articles and interviews on HCM topics have been published in the US, Europe and Asia. She lives in Munich, Germany and enjoys cooking, reading, writing, kick boxing and spending time with friends and family. If you want to read more from Laura, check out her talent management blog Working Girl or follow her on Twitter @WorkGal.