Using out-of-the-box benefits to create a winning reward strategy

This article was published in the June Issue of New Zealand Management Magazine.

Creating a winning reward strategy is about more than financial incentives. Understand what your employees value most and determine your goals to get real impact.

Benefits and rewards need to support the culture of your organisation and send a message about what behaviours you require. To be really effective, however, your rewards strategy also needs to take into account what your employees value – which means considering ‘out-of-the-box’ benefits.

What to consider when creating a successful employee reward structure

Out-of-the-box rewards recognise that many employees want more than just money. Increased annual leave, retirement plans and wellness initiatives are benefits that workers may appreciate just as much as salary increases or cash bonuses.

A total rewards approach is an effective way of taking this into account. 

The Sibson Employee Value Exchange provides a model for prioritising financial and non-monetary rewards to support a company’s overall strategy using five categories.

  1. Compensation – Provide financial incentives such as good base salaries, cash bonuses or incentive schemes and competitive market rates.
  2. Affiliation – Build a sense of pride and belonging by creating a great environment to work in.
  3. Work content – Allow colleagues a varied, challenging and meaningful work life.
  4. Career – Perhaps especially for those in the early stages of career development, provide access to training and encourage their personal growth.
  5. Benefits – Support employees outside of work with health or dental care, a comprehensive retirement package or other indirect benefits.

Considering how you can blend each category allows you to create a reward strategy that benefits the employee, while also encouraging the types of behaviours your organisation most values.

Understanding what your employees value and aligning your own objectives

To determine which types of rewards your employee’s value, it’s worth considering your industry. The sector you operate in could attract certain types of people, or you might want to reward particular types of behaviour according to your organisational goals.

In the education sector, your employees most likely place a high value on learning. Therefore one of your rewards or benefits could be allowing them time away from work to undertake new courses. Similarly, a company in the health and wellness sector might choose to offer exercise programmes or mental health days, increase annual leave or provide flexible working hours.

However, whatever rewards you offer must align with your own objectives. If you want the sales team to increase sales, you might opt for financial rewards. Whereas, if you want to attract highly-skilled applicants or improve employee retention, a great work culture or generous retirement package may be more appropriate.

Communicating your reward system successfully

No matter how detailed your benefit system, it’s worth very little if your staff don’t understand how they benefit. When it comes to communicating your reward strategy bear in mind:

  • Explain how competitive your package is – If you pay substantially above market rate, make it clear. Don’t assume all employees know what other organisations pay. It’s quite likely your employees will assume they are underpaid! Similarly, if your retirement package is much more comprehensive than your competitors, shout about it.
  • Link rewards directly to the type of behaviours you want – Rather than just explain your health benefits, explain that you want to support your staff to be at their best and at work as much as possible. Make sure your sales team are aware that consistent wins are what you value, not occasional good work.
  • Communicate how to achieve rewards – Balance making sure your employees understand that rewards are not something they are entitled to with being inspiring. If rewards are dished out too frequently, and to everyone, they may lose value in the eyes of your employees.

Strategic Pay advise on all areas of remuneration, rewards and benefits. We’ll help you create a winning reward strategy, and plan the best way to communicate it to your staff. Get in touch to start the conversation today.

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