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Back to the beginning - creating your reward strategy





Posted by Justine Woolf on 10 February 2015

Back to the beginning - creating your reward strategy

HR Reward | Reward Consultancy | Reward Intelligence | Reward Strategy |

‘Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start’ – sound familiar? Good old ‘Sound of Music’! But it serves a purpose in reminding us that when diving into any reward change, you need to go back to your objectives. How does a proposed change in bonus plan fit in the wider picture? How does that tweak to your benefits offering impact your reward strategy?

However we find most of the time, when we ask prospective clients what their reward strategy is, the response we get is ‘we don’t have one’. The result is that reward changes are made in isolation and often in conflict with each other. Decisions made in good faith at the time can later appear quite random and before you know it you have a scattergun approach to pay and benefits. Creating a reward strategy is high value but not easy, which is probably why just 50% of organisations have an established reward strategy in place. Even where organisations have a strategy, we often find that it no longer supports the needs of the business or is locked away in a drawer and never used.

Of course, creating a reward strategy isn’t an immediate panacea to all your reward problems, but it does give you a starting place to go back to, to test your decisions and actions against and form a basis for all subsequent reward design activities so they are aligned with each other and make sense. It should ideally articulate the direction your organisation wants to travel in aligning its reward structures and processes with broader business objectives.  Setting this direction of travel can be easier than you think.

So, how should you go about it?

Understand where you are coming from:

  • What is your reward picture at the present?
  • Do you know what you spend on pay & benefits?
  • How do you compare to the market?
  • What impact do performance levels have on pay?
  • How do employees feel about their package?
  • What do your reward structures look like?
  • Do they work in the way you need them to?

Make sure you understand your future business direction:

  • What are the challenges facing your organisation?
  • What could the future hold?
  • What can you afford to spend on reward?
  • How will you increase performance & contribution?
  • Who are your competitors?

Understand the impact this has on your people – current and future

  • What kind of people does your organisation need?
  • Where will you recruit them from?
  • What is going on in the market place?
  • Will you need new skills or different calibre of employee?

By answering some of these questions you can get a sense of where you are now and how far your reward structures are from that aspiration. Challenge your current views; provoke debate among your team around your organisational/cultural ‘DNA’. Ask ‘what type of an organisation are we and how can we use reward to drive and support our desired behaviours?’

A good reward strategy is not about generating long reports or 20 page policies that will sit in a drawer. For us a good reward strategy is about creating a set of principles that outline what you want reward in your organisation to achieve. They should summarise your agreed view on; where you want to position yourselves compared to your competitors, how you will recognise contribution, and what the employee deal looks like, and so on. They should also ideally be created with input from across the organisation. This means they reflect not just Board aspiration, but also employee desires. Your reward strategy should act as a key reference point for all future decisions on pay and performance philosophy, describing your position on base pay, bonus, benefits, recognition and performance.

Ultimately, your reward strategy should help ensure that you can retain, motivate and manage your talent. So what’s stopping you making a start today?

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