Do total reward statements still engage employees with their benefits packages?

total reward statement
Credit: Julia Sudnitskaya /
  • A total reward statement provides an overview of an employment package and its value.
  • Offering choice regarding how a total reward statement is delivered to an employee is key to ensuring effective engagement.
  • A personalised benefits package can help to engage employees with their benefits because it is specifically relevant to them.

As total reward statements (TRS) have long been favoured to communicate what employees’ reward packages are worth, they can be useful to engage them with what is on offer. HR software Personio’s March 2022 research demonstrated that 88% of those aged between 18-34 are increasingly seeking employers that prioritise their wellbeing, so ones that adeptly highlight exactly what they offer will appear attractive.

Understanding the value

A TRS typically offers a breakdown of the monetary value of an employee’s entire employment  package. In addition to salary, it can include pension contributions, bonus schemes, healthcare, financial and wellbeing programmes, flexible and voluntary benefits schemes, company car allowances, share schemes, bikes-for-work schemes, and more.

Most employees will understand their basic benefits and contributions, but can sometimes be unaware of the complete package. A TRS will provide an overview of exactly what an employee is entitled to and how much it is all worth.

It is crucial for employers to ensure staff understand the value of their whole compensation and reward package, says Matthew Gregson, executive director at Howden Employee Benefits and Wellbeing. “The tricky bit is making sure they hold relevance and effectively serve their intended purpose of engaging employees with how their reward adds value to them,” he adds.

Presenting the full benefits roster in one place through a TRS can offer employees a clear story of their whole employment package and can mean they are more likely to feel supported, valued and engaged.

Luke Sondelski, director of reward at Personio, says: “It’s no surprise that this does wonders for employee satisfaction, motivation and productivity.”

Engagement tool

Given employers now have workforces that cover multiple generations with differing wants and needs, offering choice in terms of how TRS are delivered is key to ensuring effective engagement, as some may prefer paper copies while others favour online access.

New employees may find navigating a new working environment confusing. Placing all benefits in one convenient place means they can access information when it suits them, and watch their package grow over time.

Younger employees are also more likely to prioritise career development opportunities over their more experienced peers, says Sondelski. “TRS can highlight training and mentorship initiatives, are a great way of creating a personalised employee experience for different demographics, and ensure they are aware of the benefits that best suit their needs.”

Meanwhile, Gregson believes statements need to resonate and engage on an emotional level. “While a TRS can provide useful information, there is a need for more compelling reasons to engage with employees, especially younger ones, that focus on how the benefits help solve problems and achieve goals, such as statements that focus on the value and importance of what is on offer as opposed to an itemised statement of cost,” he says.

Value of personalisation

When executed well, a TRS showing a personalised package will hold value for most employees. However, the key to success lies in understanding and considering their different priorities and preferences.

“It’s important to understand the unique needs of staff, collect insights, and assess internal data, and then use these to build a personalised TRS,” says Sondelski. “This will, no doubt, lead to increased benefit appreciation and employees engaging more regularly and deeply with what’s on offer.”

Benefits tailored to life stages, such as menopausal support or childcare, means employers can engage employees through pivotal times in their lives. Clare Sheridan, principal client director at Aon, says: “It shows they care, know who they are and what they and their loved ones want. Regular, targeted communication is key to ensuring employees understand what they can access, while personalisation is key to engagement.”

Attraction and retention

As employers look to attract and retain talent in a competitive job market, the benefits they offer can be a distinguishing factor for potential candidates. Being clear on the entire experience available to an employee within an organisation is key to attracting talent.

“At the application stage, TRS give a clear overview, show how employers compare to others and incite excitement in candidates,” says Sondelski. “They can also provide a scalable way for talent acquisition and hiring managers to create an amazing candidate experience.”

A TRS can also educate existing employees about how much they are valued and compensated, and help with retention.

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“The current and next generation want a consumer-grade experience and to engage with easily digestible content,” says Sheridan. “A TRS, when delivered brilliantly, can give them a quick one-stop shop and help them to understand what’s on offer.”

To be a useful attraction, retention and engagement tool for staff, a TRS should effectively highlight the overall benefits package and communicate their true value to the employee experience.