How to engage managers with your total rewards strategy

Every business strategy needs to be reviewed and refreshed periodically, and your total rewards strategy is no different

Every business strategy needs to be reviewed and refreshed periodically, and your total rewards strategy is no different, writes Jennie Walker

Recognising and rewarding employees has become a strategic HR issue in an age where competition for talent is high, while at the same time many companies are working to conserve their expenditures. This requires a unique blend of attractive compensation, benefits and personal growth rewards for employees, commonly referred to as “total rewards”.

As a HR professional, you are keenly aware of this; however, new and developing managers may not understand the critical link between rewards and employee engagement, your company’s unique rewards package, or the vital role they personally play in implementing rewards in the workplace. While the decision about which rewards to offer ultimately lies with organisational leaders, the real-world application of these rewards is a shared responsibility between HR and managers. HR leaders can maximise the effectiveness of rewards by educating and partnering with managers to ensure the company culture allows employees to actually enjoy the rewards offered to them.

While the concept of total rewards has been in play in HR for at least a decade, not all companies have implemented this strategy or implemented it well. For example, paid time off has been a popular benefit long before the concept of total rewards existed, but employee engagement surveys continue to reveal difficulty in securing time off when needed.  Organisational pressures or strict management styles may lead managers to discourage time off requests. A more modern example is the 9/80 compressed work schedule, where employees work 9-hour days Monday through Thursday in order to have every other Friday off. It is a terrific benefit in principle that can go terribly array in practice. When managers schedule Friday meetings or don’t flex deadlines to accommodate Fridays off, employees lose the benefit and end up working even longer hours.

New managers may find it especially challenging to balance productivity with employee rewards. Their desire to succeed may lead them to challenge time off requests or delay professional trainings; this is why it is important to have this conversation during their onboarding or promotion process. They need to understand their role in delivering on the organisational promise of employee rewards and how that impacts culture. Most importantly, they need to have organisational support and resources, like their HR partners, to help them navigate challenges that arise.

“New managers may find it especially challenging to balance productivity with employee rewards”

Every total rewards package represents a unique competitive advantage for a company. So even if your new management recruits are familiar with the total rewards concept, they will need to understand your company’s specific rewards philosophy, package and implementation. New employees also have valuable experience and ideas to share about rewards that can help your company’s strategy continue to evolve – it’s okay if their ideas need some time to socialise in the organisation, too. As seasoned HR professionals know well, timing is important.

Perhaps flexible work arrangements weren’t endorsed in your organisation a few years ago but now leaders feel more comfortable implementing them. Maybe your recruiting demographic has changed and now tuition reimbursement has become an important benefit for potential employees. Every business strategy needs to be reviewed and refreshed periodically, and your total rewards strategy is no different. Your partnership with managers can strengthen the organisational culture that your strategy was intended to promote.

5 tips to keep your total rewards strategy alive

  1. Include training about your company’s total rewards package in new manager onboarding.
  2. Engage managers in conversation about how they can facilitate a positive culture with respect to implementing and managing your company’s rewards.
  3. Maintain open dialogue with both managers and employees about their experience of the rewards package to make adjustments as needed.
  4. Invite recommendations for new types of rewards that are meaningful for employees.
  5. Perform a periodic competitive scan of total rewards in your industry and consider ways to reinvigorate your company’s strategy.

Image source: iStock