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Using the employee lens to define your Total Rewards Strategy

Total Rewards
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By Raymond Wammes | November 05, 2020

Shape your Total Rewards strategy differently by looking at it from the standpoint of your Employee Experience (EX).

The current times have pushed us to adapt, reinvent and look at things in different and new ways. The pandemic forced many organizations to adapt full remote working practices, which were perceived as difficult to achieve before. Small and large businesses alike evolved to meet new demands from people, allowing organizations to continue being relevant.

In the same way, organizations can start looking at their Total Rewards experience in a different way. Historically, Total Rewards have always been viewed primarily from the perspective of employers and have mainly been driven by cost, performance, ease of administration, and behavior change.

But what if we told you that you can shape your Total Rewards strategy differently by looking at it from the standpoint of your Employee Experience (EX)?

Our latest High Performing Employee Experience (HPEX) research shows that the world’s leading companies are increasingly focusing on EX. These companies also realize that EX sits at the heart of delivering exceptional customer experience and superior financial business performance.

Based on our employee survey data from 500 companies and nearly 10 million employees, we found that organizations should take a people-first approach in reinventing their Total Rewards experience. Understanding what your employees need and how it can inform your Total Rewards strategy is important to get a new perspective. We have identified three steps to do this:

  1. 01

    Identifying your employees’ challenges

    To start the discussion around your Total Rewards strategy, it’s crucial to identify what is important for your employees. It’s about unearthing the answers to their questions such as:

    • There’s an increased focus on employee wellbeing during the pandemic – what options and tools do I have from my employer to ensure my own wellbeing?
    • I’m not sure what’s the next step in my career. Do I have access to guidance and support for my career development?
    • Having competitive pay and benefits is highly important to me, so how do I make sure that I am being paid fairly?
    • Our world has shifted and the new realities of today have evolved my needs. Is my employer doing enough to meet me where I am?

    Carefully listening to what your employees say will help you pinpoint where your organization needs to focus in your Total Rewards strategy. And, what your employees say about how you listened to them and helped them during challenging times will matter just as importantly. With many organizations already planning the year ahead, now is the perfect time to engage in employee listening activities and look at insights on what your employees have been experiencing.

    You can then use these tactics to give you a full view of where you need to focus on when designing your Total Rewards strategy. When your organization strives for fair pay, equitable benefits and career equity, it leads to securing your employees’ wellbeing. All of these enable your employees to bring their full selves to work every day, which then energizes them to win and drive business performance. Ultimately, using employee listening approaches will help you make well-rounded and thoughtful decisions not only in optimizing the cost of your Total Rewards, but in shaping a top-grade EX as well.

  2. 02

    Humanizing your Total Rewards experience

    Recent times have spotlighted the importance of recognizing employees as individuals with variable needs. An abundance of research addresses how employees should cope with the anxiety, stress and grief brought by the pandemic, how employees need to tend to their wellbeing, and how managers can improve their resiliency so they can better support employees, just to name a few.

    The point is, your employees are individuals who have different needs at different life stages. Identifying your employee segments can help you humanize the EX. Think about the employee who is recovering from the coronavirus, caring for an ailing family member, a new parent for the first time, or is looking for the next step in their career. They all have different moments that matter for them, and they turn to you, as their employer, for help and support. By providing the right rewards offering and flexibility, you enable choices that are tailored for your employees.

    Your organization needs to listen to what your various employee segments need and make them realize that they are being given a voice and a chance to be heard. Doing this will help you give them a meaningful Total Rewards experience. Your Total Rewards – which shape an individual’s experience related to career, pay, benefits and wellbeing – are key in delivering the help and support employees need and crave. This could mean offering different programs to different groups, enabling (individual) choice, or applying more segmented and/or personalized communication.

  3. 03

    Shaping your Total Rewards using HPEX

    Now that we have your people at the front and center of the discussion, it’s time to apply the HPEX model to your Total Rewards strategy. We have developed an evidence-based model where companies have specific outcomes laid out across three levels: Essentials, Emphasis and Excellence. A key learning that we found from the HPEX research was that high-performing companies more often achieve the Excellence level – or top row – when shaping the EX.

    When we apply a Total Rewards lens to the HPEX model, we create two ways to shape your strategy:

    • Your employees’ perception of your Total Rewards experience. What Total Rewards experience do your employees want, and what experience are they actually having today?
    • Your organization’s perception of a Total Rewards experience. What type of experience do you currently provide to your employees and how does it compare to your organization’s desired experience?

    To make it more tangible, we have translated this into real experiences people have with Total Rewards and identified different experience levels, which we call a maturity curve. When looking at these levels of experiences, your company can start thinking around these questions:

    • Where are you at the present?
    • Where do you want to be in the short term, midterm and long-term?
    • What areas should you prioritize as you shape your Total Rewards approach?
    • Can you identify different groups with different needs in your organization?

    The answers to these questions, including the employee input on the HPEX model, are a great starting point in redefining your Total Rewards guiding principles, which will help shape your strategy. These insights will also help you build a roadmap towards your organization’s and your employees’ desired Total Rewards experience. From here, you have the foundation to create and deliver on a tactical roadmap that will shape a Total Rewards EX that sets you apart and helps drive success.

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