Employee Benefits Live: Pay alone won’t solve recruitment and retention problems

High salaries will help employers attract talented staff, but doesn’t necessarily retain or motivate them in the future.

Speaking at Employee Benefits Live, Stephen Bevan, managing director at The Work Foundation, said that reward management should be a high performance work practice and that employers who attempt to ‘buy’ loyalty and engagement ‘by chucking a few extra grand at them’ will be disappointed.

In his master class “Just Give Me the Cash” he argued that despite the view that it is the main reason for workers moving jobs, pay is not the cause, but merely an attribute in the decision to move to a new company. In other words, employees seeking to move on are often not thinking about money but factors such as management, colleagues, career development and location.

“Pay is a blunt instrument in the hands of some managers. Staff must be rewarded with a total package. If [employers] expect to do this with pay alone they will be disappointed,” he said.

However, Bevan also warned employers against using non-financial rewards to compensate for poor basic pay, saying that job-satisfaction is highly affected by the a fairness of pay structure.

Whilst employers must install a fair pay system in order to improve motivation, the role of line manager is the key in its success. “It is easy to implement or design a bad pay system but it is a delicate creature. Keep it simple enough for line managers to understand and manage,” he said.