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Planning for the Other Side





As we settle down into the new normal, I’ve lost count of the number of times friends and colleagues have uttered the words “See you on the other side!”  

This phrase originated with the Apollo 8 mission: the first time in history humans had seen the far side of the moon. Captain Gerry Carr spoke to the astronauts who were more than 200,000 miles away, "Ten seconds to go. You are GO all the way." Pilot James Lovell replied, "We'll see you on the other side", and Apollo 8 disappeared behind the Moon.  

For 34 minutes there would be no way of knowing what happened. The reality was those astronauts had a team of experts steering them to safety - it was not just down to them to achieve the mission and keep the crew safe - but what we saw was a culmination of years of planning, meticulous scenario modelling and the realisation that they would have to adapt if things went off course... and that paid off! 

Now I’m not suggesting any of us are sending a lunar spaceship into orbit but what we’re seeing in this period of enforced isolation is that people and businesses are looking after their employees, their neighbours. They are thinking well beyond the now and optimistically they are planning for the other side. 

Speaking with our clients, some are facing significant disruption to demand whilst others are seeing a temporary postponement of revenue but expecting a demand for their services once the crisis passes. It’s tough hearing their stories with every one of them agreeing they are managing in unprecedented times, examining strategies to protect their business and employees whilst trying to maintain optimism for the future. 

Very few businesses have the luxury of riding this out, but how they treat their employees and how they manage this from a reward perspective is part of the mission. Whilst many find themselves making some difficult decisions the general view is to avoid short term solutions and take a more considered approach, looking at the bigger picture. View this disruption as a unique opportunity to implement short term reward initiatives whilst planning for longer term change which will reinforce the new world.   

Now more than ever is the time to take a considered approach to reward, review your current reward strategy and policies and explore smarter, more agile reward solutions. These are most likely things that were on the to-do list and lacked focus before this new mode of working took hold but for many of us (not all) we have more time than ever to establish what best in class might look like, read the thought leaders’ blogs, connect with leading service providers in the field and explore new avenues. Set up that project team to go after it! 

These might include:  

  • A refreshed communication of your current reward offering. We are observing enhanced communication across organisations - honest and open messages to employees about how the SLT intends to navigate the choppy waters ahead. In times of confusion employees appreciate this clear messaging. Extending this to your pay policies and packages feels like a logical next step.  
  • A review of your organisation’s pay position - one might argue now is not the time to worry about your competitiveness but with the real risk of redundancies and reduced workforces you will need to know you can retain your best talent when you emerge on the other side. Investment in some salary surveys and market benchmarking could pay dividends in the long run. 
  • Streamlining the annual pay review process. Time and time again we hear of reward practitioners struggling with the annual pain of pay review. There are better, smarter ways to achieve a good well governed system. Exploring the options now is worth your investment particularly as your businesses will be focused on future cost savings. HR Technology in this space is here to stay, evolving all the time and moving the work of reward practitioners away from process heavy tasks into a more strategic and valuable decision- making mode of working.  
  • Variable pay - bonuses may be the last thing on the mind of any business right now but it is important to think about current versus future. Examine your current schemes and how effective they will be in differentiating performance between this year and the next.  
  • Recognition - With tight budgets, how confident are you in recognising those going above and beyond, those helping to steer the ship, those willing to adapt? This is where non-monetary recognition can have a huge impact – especially in the short term. I listened to an impassioned plea from a NHS consultant who quite emphatically stated his nurses aren’t after huge pay increases but deserve respect and recognition in this challenging environment - a staff kitchen, a funded Christmas lunch. They’re not big investments but they can go a long way to reinforce the thank you. If you haven’t considered a recognition scheme or platform in your organisation, now is the time to explore what is out there and test what might work for your scenario.  

This reward discovery phase need not be cost heavy. At a time when your employees are working from home with additional time on their hands and access to many digital tools if now isn’t the time to do it then I don’t know when is.  

For support with any aspect of pay and reward, please email 

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