How to use total reward to create a unified culture

Need to know:

  • Focusing on culture creates a natural connection with total reward that is authentic, compelling, and connects back to the employer brand.
  • Encouraging discussion between remote and international teams about total reward drives connectivity, and unity and enhances the employee experience.
  • Current talent shortages, coupled with soaring inflation and a higher cost of living have made the communication of the full value of total reward more important than ever.

The pandemic has transformed the world of business, with workforces more remote, more global and more diverse than ever. As a result, organisations must find effective ways to create an inclusive culture that unites every member of the organisation, and here, a robust total reward strategy can pay dividends.

A strong total reward approach is fundamental to the employee value proposition (EVP), the deal that forms the basis of the employee experience, ensuring the day-to-day experience is a good fit for individuals.

Nadene Evans, people operations and employment expert at Zenefits, says: “A total reward strategy is just one piece of the EVP puzzle, but it’s a significant one. It is the key to creating [an organisation]-wide culture of recognition, incorporating a cohesive management style, promoting training and development, improving employee and manager relationships, and driving a sense of purpose and unity.”

Bridging culture gaps

Employers can use a total reward approach to connect employees who are geographically dispersed, both within the UK and globally. When it comes to employee benefits, different countries will have different regulations and cultural practices, however, employers can use total reward schemes to bridge this gap and adapt them to a scale that fits with an organisation’s culture.

Andy Partridge, senior strategy consultant at Aon, says: “Those employers that focus on culture aim to evoke a feeling and a connection with their total reward packages. It will feel authentic, compelling and will always connect back to the employer brand.”

Employers also have different total reward strategies, for example, some want to give their benefits a wow factor, and will look to introduce new benefits that stand out to employees and fit with corporate culture. Others have core benefits in place. The key for them is to increase visibility, adds Partridge. “There’s often a perception gap as employees aren’t aware of benefits provided, and only ask about benefits already available,” he says. “Here, it’s essential to improve engagement by reiterating the benefits story.”

Consistency is key

Providing a consistent reward and benefits offering to all employees regardless of where they are based will go a long way in creating that sense of unity, as will enabling more frequent conversations between team members around total reward.

Mona Akiki, chief people officer at Perkbox, says: “An employee could access a celebration and recognition platform where they thank a colleague for support during a busy period at work or recommend a wellness programme they had success with. Managers could access personalised reward platforms to reward their teams for outperformance, and allow those employees to choose the perks that they value the most. All this creates discussion, helps connect dispersed teams while keeping the employee experience fresh and attractive to everyone.”

For a total reward approach to be effective, the benefits components of the package need to resonate with different cohorts in a workforce and their situations. Older employees looking to maximise their pension contributions, for example, may want very different benefits from millennials who may be more interested in buying and selling annual leave, for example.

In the battle to attract and retain the best talent, articulating the full value of total reward is more important than ever, and with the sharp rise in the cost of living and inflation, employers are also facing intense salary pressure. Benefits packages may appear to be self-explanatory, however, the onus is on employers to drive engagement with a total reward programme through an effective communication strategy.

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Jamie Mackenzie, director at Sodexo Engage, says: “There are several ways to promote total reward and the elements of employee benefits that are available. Despite having a wide range of digital tools at our disposal, we shouldn’t be quick to dismiss the power of email, especially as a first step. Internal emails are an easy way to keep employees in the loop of any changes to their benefits or alert them on upcoming benefits programmes.

“With so many people now using social media platforms to access news, and stay connected to friends and family, [employers] should leverage their channels to share videos or infographics outlining the [benefits] available to their staff. Additionally, using case studies in these posts can help spotlight just how benefits have helped staff.”