How, when, and where we work has changed. So too have employee needs and expectations when it comes to benefits and total rewards. As a result, companies must find ways to remain competitive, discover new ways to engage their workforce and align employees with their company’s values. Getting your total rewards right is crucial to retaining employees who might be tempted by offers elsewhere, where the salary is higher. It can also be used as leverage when recruiting and onboarding talent.
In our recent roundtable discussion, with senior HR leaders and Executive Vice President at Benify, Chris Wakely, we considered how employee preferences around their total rewards have changed as a result of hybrid working; we discussed key benefit trends such as wellbeing considerations and the declining value of financial incentivization; and we learned what’s working (and what’s not) from some huge global organizations that had a seat at the table.
Flexibility is the price of entry
The question on all the HR leaders’ lips in our recent roundtable session was, “What can I offer to the employee as the cherry on the top that will differentiate us?” Only a few years ago, flexible work was the talk of the town as an easy win and key differentiator in the total rewards game. As the world was forced to adopt hybrid and remote ways of working, it’s difficult to see how any organization can revert to the days of yesteryear. Now, 59% of staff want flexible working over financial rewards.
And, a sign of things to come, Benify’s own Future of Work study that surveyed 40,000 employees discovered that 47% believed benefits adapted to working from home are the most needed for the future, and again the study signified that the onus on financial incentives is in decline. Benify’s same Future of Work survey revealed the importance of wellbeing-related benefits, those related to training and career development, and a broader trend that mirrored the blurring between home and work.
The HR leaders at our virtual table spoke about their experience of COVID-19 being a push for positive change for ways of working and a lever to engage management in mixing up old-fashioned benefits packages. Some spoke of their experiences of desperately needing a USP for their benefits arsenal, as they struggle with the war for talent – especially digitally-focused talent.
One particular HR leader shared their need to find unique benefits outside of compensation and salary given budgetary constraints. Their wider HR team had delved into their competition’s offerings and knew that they were offering a median salary, so they wanted to find out what they can offer inside of their budget limitations, that will set them apart. The goal in mind was not just to attract new talent, but to get talent to stay too. This particular organization knew their Employer Brand was getting better with their shift to more sustainable products, but they questioned if pay attractiveness will begin to shift, given the increase in living costs globally. For the minute though, it looks like this isn’t the case, with many surveys stating the contrary – it’s not about the money.
Creating a globally consistent experience whilst understanding the need for flex
One way to meet the challenge of creating a differentiator for your total rewards strategy, is to understand and meet the need for inclusivity with rewards. Meaning, what can you provide for everyone, and what can you feasibly differentiate to meet unique, individualized needs? Clearly having bespoke offerings for every individual employee would be a tough ask, but, having a core benefits program that has add-ons where flex is available, could be the best compromise.
Chris discussed how one of Benify’s clients has created, through a larger cloud-based transformation, a globally consistent experience around rewards and benefits, whilst also understanding that each location will need to offer slightly different things, thus encompassing nuances here. They’ve also implemented a global wellbeing allowance (cash) that provides a self-driven reward for employees. Employees are able to use this with their own volition. This type of strategy can provide employees with options and empowerment to make their own choices about what they want at that current point in their life.
Could autonomy be the new currency of work?
Another differentiator that one of the HR leaders at the table is beginning to trial, is cryptocurrencies and entering into the metaverse with their total rewards. They are finding digital talent specifically, hard to find and hard to keep, and also unable to compete with tech giants where they have benefits like variable pay where packages are inclusive of stock options for example. Having insight into what certain employee personas – and those tough talent pools specifically – are after, and what they’re interested in, in their downtime can lead to wonderful insights that can be leveraged on the total rewards front.
Total rewards need to be more about flexibility and inclusivity and need to be more than money. Employees need options and they need to feel seen and heard. HR leaders have got a great opportunity ahead of them to reshape their worlds of work through total rewards. The past two years have been about keeping the wheels on and putting the wings on as we leave the runway, but now is the time to make strategic decisions that will impact business objectives and make great places to work for our employees now, and for the future.
Why join an UNLEASH Roundtable?
Amid the current disruption, HR leaders need to get ahead of the exponential trend where work, technology, and how work gets done have changed forever. But how should we approach the relevant questions, given the radical uncertainty we continue to face as the pandemic becomes more protracted than anyone imagined? Our exclusive Virtual Roundtables are designed to explore where business leaders are focused now, key challenges and prioritization for the rest of the year, and what matters most in planning for what’s next.
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