Compensation Cafe: Keeping Investments in People Top of Mind

April 27, 2016 Derek Irvine

By Derek Irvine

Recognize This! – The investments that companies make in employees can be difficult to keep top of mind. Recognition is one solution that communicates the value employees have on a frequent and timely basis.

The business world seems to moving faster than ever, challenging employees and leadership teams alike to keep up. These changes are affecting a wide range of HR processes and systems as well. From the annual employee census to pulse surveys for engagement, from infrequent performance appraisals to ongoing coaching and development, it is becoming ever more important to provide frequent and high-touch experiences for employees.

In today’s post on Compensation Cafe, I discuss what these trends mean for the full range of investments that companies make in their people- spanning salary, incentives, and benefits- and how difficult it can be to keep those things top of mind. Looking across just some of the trends above, I argue:

A similar transformation is needed in the way that companies communicate (and keep top of mind) the value and investments that they make in their employees. For the sake of argument, I suspect that salary, incentives, and benefits are not top of mind for the typical employee on a frequent basis. Much like traditional performance appraisals, there are certain times of the year when these aspects are at the fore (e.g., open enrollment and the pay discussions within the performance review period). But there are also large portions of the year when these issues rarely rise to the top.

While there are clear exceptions to the above, for the typical employee, daily work responsibilities can easily consume most of one’s attention and effort. As a result, the investments that companies make across salary and benefits can be easily overlooked. At a minimum, employees may miss out on the personal value that benefits may confer; at worst, they may perceive better opportunities elsewhere.

To guard against these consequences, companies need to find better ways of reinforcing the value they place in employees. As I write in the full post:

One such approach within the scope of a total rewards portfolio is through social recognition. Social recognition can provide a daily reminder of the value that companies find in the work their employees do. It provides ongoing communication of the investments that a company makes in their employees, through messages of gratitude and appreciation from both managers and peers.

In pure value, investments in recognition (typically around 1-2% of payroll) may also go further than investments in other incentives or salary increases. Complementing the total rewards package, recognition is one investment that a company can make that will remain top of mind.

How does your company communicate the value it places in employees?


About the Author

Derek Irvine

Derek is senior vice president, client strategy and consulting, at Workhuman.

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