I recently worked with a client to conduct an employee engagement survey. The results of the survey indicated that employees felt they were not paid competitively and that the bonus opportunities available to them were not incentivizing. The leadership did not really understand why employees feel this way because they felt they had done all the right things. They had recently conducted a compensation analysis and made adjustments to employee’s whose salaries were below market. They had also worked really hard to develop an incentive program to reward employees for their contributions to the organization. Regardless of their efforts though employees did not feel their compensation programs were motivating and the leadership wanted to change the perception so in response, asked Helios to revamp their bonus programs.
As I talked about the scope of the project with the client, it became clear to me that the employees did not feel incentivized by the programs not because of the programs themselves but because the program was never communicated to them. The root of the problem was that employees just didn’t understand why they were compensated the way they were and how their bonuses were derived.
Instead of revamping the programs they had worked so hard on, I recommended the development of a formal Total Rewards Philosophy that would layout the principles to guide the design, implementation, and administration of their human capital programs. Once their philosophy was documented, they could use it to ensure their current programs were aligned and then to help communicate with employees.
Value of a Total Rewards Philosophy
Total Rewards, as defined by WorldatWork, is “all of the tools available to the employer that may be used to attract, motivate and retain employees. Total rewards include everything the employee perceives to be of value resulting from the employment relationship.1” Formalizing your philosophy does the following:
- Defines human capital strategies and aligns with strategic goals and objectives, business model, and company culture
- Attracts, motivates, and retains employees by providing transparency on how the organization approaches compensation
- Provides guidelines and a system of accountability that drives consistency across the organization so employees perceive fairness and the company mitigates legal risk
- Allows the organization to balance market competitiveness and cost control
Developing a Total Rewards Philosophy is a critical element in ensuring that you, as an organization, have a tool to help you drive human capital decisions and communicate those decisions to employees. Your transparency will go miles when it comes to building trust with your employees. When they understand that you have a philosophy and they feel they are being paid fairly, you will have a much easier time attracting, engaging, and retaining your workforce.