Guest Opinion: Graham Drewett, compensation and benefits manager UK at LogicaCMG. Topic; Motivation


You know that feeling. The phone rings. Mr Crisis is calling. Turnover is up, morale is down. We need some ideas by lunch time. Oh, and they need to be self financing. The reward team delivers as always, heroes of the hour, pausing only to tick another box on their CVs before nipping out for a beer while the boss reads through the latest solution. The reward manager is often the first port of call when all is not well.

Maybe the package ingredients need to be re-mixed; an interim pay review might do it. How are we stacking up against the competition? Perhaps a new incentive scheme or some clever tweaking of existing schemes. What about flex? Surely more choice will make people happy?

Well it might, but is this always the case? It can be enlightening to stand back and consider what drives employees through their careers. They are the clients after all. What keeps us at work day after day? Financial necessity of course but is it more than that? What makes companies great to work for? Is it the excellence of the underlying reward team?

Well of course, but next time Mr Crisis calls look a bit closer at the available data. When you last did a really good pay review what happened to the turnover figures? Was it much different to the pattern in leaner years? When that flex scheme went in, what was its effect on recruitment? Maybe the trends don’t track the initiatives as closely as you thought.

There is great solace in activity. We have a problem so we might create a recognition scheme and some really slick communications. Great fun to do but what about when the fuss has all died down – what will have changed? Maybe nothing much except that we have another scheme to administer.

People are complex, that’s why they are both fascinating and frustrating. The reasons people stay with a company are varied and contradictory. They want to belong. They want to feel appreciated. Most will want to feel they have an opportunity to develop in an organisation that really cares about them. Many will want to avoid change and will seek a sense of security, which is increasingly difficult in today’s fast-moving environments. They like to get paid fairly and have interesting things to do.

They often like to have something to moan about as well. When a number of these needs are met within the same company, turnover is likely to be low and loyalty high. As always in life, it is a combination of factors that makes up the whole experience. People like to feel there is strong leadership in the organisation but it doesn’t need to be remote.

Making senior management visible can make a huge difference. It might save a percentage or two on turnover if employees feel those managing the company are experiencing the same frustrations and being treated reasonably equally. Honesty is important. Employees are not impressed by corporate spin. Recognition is important too. A thank you at the right time, delivered sincerely, might have more effect than a bonus in some situations.

Zero turnover is not achievable and probably not healthy, but each unnecessary resignation represents a chunky replacement and lost investment cost. Reward is key. A team of experienced reward professionals should be able to deliver more value than their cost.

But it is only part of the picture in a complex interaction of factors that make up daily working life. Reward on its own won’t solve all your problems but aligned with a few other positives it can contribute to a winning combination.