Summit news: Employers should not rush total reward

Employers should not feel forced into implementing total reward until they are sure that their organisation is truly ready.

This was the over-riding message from the panel debate on ‘Measuring the impact of total reward’ on the second day of the Employee Benefits Summit in Jerez. Debra Corey, director of compensation and benefits EMEA at Honeywell, said: “There’s nothing wrong with not being ready. It’s about working towards it.”

She added that, while she implemented a total reward strategy in her previous role at Gap, the fundamentals for doing so at Honeywell are not yet in place and she doesn’t want to introduce total reward purely for the sake of it as this would not engage employees.

But Peter Reilly, author of Strategic HR – Building the capability to deliver, said that not all employers think this way. “What worries me in some organisations is that they reach for the total reward button as they have no other button to press. They’ve done everything else.”

Once employers have decided to proceed with total reward, they face further challenges around how much to involve and communicate to employees. Michael Armstrong, author of A handbook of employee reward, said: “Readiness is all and not trying to make too much of it is key. [Employee] involvement without effective communication doesn’t work. Trying to do too much too soon also doesn’t work as there’s too much cynicism.”

Monitoring employees’ views using tools such as attitude surveys, for example, can help to gauge their likely reaction.

Reilly added that employers should begin to communicate total reward slowly. “Build it gradually to the point where it is obvious what it is rather than having to assert what it is,” he said.

Employers should also determine which employees to initially communicate to. In some cases, it may be appropriate to target the entire workforce at once, while in it may be preferable to communicate to specific sections individually, for example, on a country-by-country basis.

Alison Dalley, director of reward at Fujitsu Services, explained that the organisation is planning to pilot a rollout of total remuneration statements to specific sections of its workforce. This differs to the “big-bang” approach taken in her previous role at Sun Microsystems where these were rolled out to all staff simultaneously. “It’s a broader communications challenge than at Sun [Microsystems] and that’s why we’re piloting it,” she said.