It is not just about the money. It is about money well spent and about trust well-earned. This is the good news about employee rewards. Paying people is obviously not a choice. The crucial choice lies first in choosing to invest in building deeper bonds with employees.
Then, it is about allocating financial resources to nourish this bond. We have found that this approach can have handsome payoffs for both companies and employees.
If it were only about the money, then businesses that could pay more would retain their employees and grow, while companies that could not would lose their people and their businesses. Both kinds of companies would try to pay the most they could and then would focus on extracting more from their people.
These ideas make us wince, not because they are common place, and not because they do not work, but because they assume a purely transactional and unnecessarily combative view of human motivation. It is found what works equally well, if not better, is when companies choose to look at business as an endeavor of the heart and mind, as an effort to create value and build a sustainable bottom line in the process.
If we were to extend the same logic to employee rewards, then companies would make the paradigm shift from an exchange of financial currency to a building of human connection with one’s employees. Here, we will offer you three key ideas, and some examples of how companies can build this connection so that all relevant stakeholders benefit.
Working with international and Indian companies suggests that the first step to building this connection is to look at employee rewards as an investment rather than as a cost. Second, it involves expanding the idea of total rewards to include benefits, work lifestyles, and careers while ensuring that these innovations fall within the framework of the company’s values and philosophy.
Third, it suggests that paying the highest amount is not necessarily the best strategy. Rather, the number that arguably matters most is the employee satisfaction score on the total rewards package.
When companies choose to look at employee rewards as an investment, they make the important shift by asking themselves, “What are we investing in?” As part of reaching out to their predominantly young population, one of the world’s most popular high tech companies decided that they would build food, of all things, into their rewards package.
They worked towards ensuring that no employee would be more than 100 ft away from food. This led to a famous set of cafeterias that the employees were proud of. This cannot be dismissed as a wasteful, whimsical investment. The company believed that when the employees have access to food they like, their productivity goes up, and their employee feedback had indicated precisely this.
Next, when companies choose to move beyond cash payments and embrace a concept of total rewards, they can generate ideas that reinforce their core purpose as a company. A company in the pharmaceutical space has invested hugely in employee wellness and benefits, thereby tying in its rewards program with its mission. Or, in the case of an international technology conglomerate, their rewards package actually saved them a significant amount of money.
They chose to reframe their costs occurring from office space investments as a rewards challenge. They explored the possibility of providing incentives for their people to work from home, with occasional face-to-face meetings.
It was not just the productivity increases that this company rejoiced in it was what the employees had to say. They felt more trusted, less ‘watched’. As a result, they began to go the extra mile. This flexible work program also became a great attraction for a number of prospective hires.