For example, this survey report recently came out of CIPD (The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, a bit like SHRM in the US), showing the most concerning factors for firms are how employees perceive their benefits:
“Engagement and motivation are now considered more important factors in a business than the attraction and retention of employees, new research suggests.
“The CIPD asked firms to rate their concerns and found that, for the second year running, worries that ‘employees don’t appreciate the value of the total reward offering’ came top of the list, while the second biggest concern was that rewards were not engaging employees.
“The research also discovered that ‘attraction and retention of key employees’ had – for the first time since the survey began – fallen out of the top 10 list of concerns.
(For comparison, see this research discussed by SHRM, which cited: "A recent survey of corporate CFOs highlighted financial executives' concerns about rising health and pension benefits costs, while a poll of HR managers showed their top rewards priority to be helping employees to better understand their benefits.")
Returning to the CIPD study, I’m glad to hear of this finding. Why should you expend effort, energy and expense to find and keep employees when you’re not entirely clear what kind of culture and rewards structure you’re recruiting them into?
Keep in mind, however, that the research doesn’t say the employee reward mix at these organizations is bad. Indeed, these could be exceptional Total Rewards plans. But perception is reality. It doesn’t matter how exceptional your rewards package is if your employees don’t see it that way.
To overcome this perception challenge, HR Pros and compensation managers need to:
- Communicate the Value – This one is obvious, and I’ve heard repeatedly from leaders I speak with, “But we communicate our Total Rewards package. Employees just don’t read it.” This feeds into the perception challenge. If your employees aren’t tuning into your usual communications mechanisms around the value to them of your total rewards, find another way to communicate it. If emails aren’t working, try giving managers key talking points to bring up in their team meetings.
- Expand the Engagement Opportunity – I’m not surprised employees don’t find Total Rewards engaging as many elements of a Total Rewards package are now expected, when in fact, these are optional elements companies offer (especially in the US). If your company is choosing to invest in employees in any variety of ways, be sure your employees know you’re making that investment and why you’re doing it. Be proud of the efforts you’re making on behalf of employees. If that isn’t working, put the power in all employees’ hands with a prominent and very visible employee recognition and rewards program that shows employees how much they are valued and appreciated by the organization as well as their colleagues.
- Build Your Culture – Finally, make the value of your Total Rewards investment part of the very culture of your organization. Give your employees what they want – a powerful, positive culture in which they can do their best work, make progress, and be recognized and rewarded along the way.
Once you’ve established these baselines, recruiting and retention tends to take care of itself.
As Globoforce’s Head of Strategic Consulting, Derek Irvine is an internationally minded management professional with over 20 years of experience helping global companies set a higher ambition for global strategic employee recognition, leading workshops, strategy meetings and industry sessions around the world. His articles on fostering and managing a culture of appreciation through strategic recognition have been published in Businessweek, Workspan and HR Management. Derek splits his time between Dublin and Boston. Follow Derek on Twitter at @DerekIrvine.