Three Ways to Customize Total Rewards for Maximum Impact

How can your small business get the competitive edge when it comes to rewarding and recognizing your people? You’ve got confidence that the base compensation and variable pay you offer is market competitive and you offer a solid extended health and benefits package. Yet with business growth, ongoing hiring, and the evolving diversity of your people, it’s a challenge to reward and recognize in a way that satisfies everyone. Here’s are three ways to customize your rewards and bring innovative approaches to what you offer:

Reflect on your corporate values and what you’re trying to achieve as an employer. This is essential to identifying and selecting rewards that align with what your leaders believe is most important. For example, in a hard-driving sales focused organization, rewarding outstanding sales performance with higher dollar incentives may be appropriate. If employee health and wellness is championed as an important driver of performance, then you may want more of your rewards to provide ways for individuals to enhance their self care and personal wellness. If technology is core to your business and staying ahead of innovation and product development are mission critical, then offering additional training and the latest technology tools may be a primary focus of your rewards. If being a good corporate citizen underpins your corporate brand, then offering opportunities for employees to volunteer for charitable causes or community events ensures your organization is living according to what is important. Whatever your goals as an employer, your rewards can be a way to show employees that what you offer is an expression of what you believe.

Take a close look at your employee demographics. Chances are there’s diversity here, from recent college or university graduates to young millennials, mid-career professionals and more tenured individuals not far off from retirement.  Their personal situations will definitely impact the kinds of rewards that are meaningful – some will have young families and are looking for flexibility in how and where they work; others are singularly career focused and want opportunities to develop professionally and earn growing monetary rewards for their efforts and performance; dual-career couples with families may not have time to get everything done and value connections to services and individuals who can help then take care of their daily personal activities (such as laundry, housekeeping, grocery shopping, house repairs). Or is a retirement savings plan with matching employer contributions something that will be valued by all your people? If you’re not sure what’s important to them, just ask. The more aware you are of what they need and want that will help them successfully manage their personal and professional lives, the more you’ll be able to select and target total rewards that excite them and keep them engaged.

Consider your budget and the financial resources available to invest in rewards and recognition. Can you afford a lavish and creative compensation program that awards trips, and all expense paid weekend away, or cars to employees in recognition of an anniversary or significant achievement? Would it be more feasible to give a restaurant gift certificate, occasional spa days, a birthday day off, house cleanings and repair services? Or catered lunch on Fridays? Remember that creating a better quality of workplace that rewards employee loyalty and “above and beyond” performance can be a significantly lower investment than the costs of staff turnover or the inability to attract and hire great people. Even if you need to stick to low cost or no-cost rewards, there are many options to consider in building your program.

In a full employment marketplace, your total rewards offering is an important lever in attracting, hiring, and retaining the best people.  For the small to mid-market enterprise or non-profit organization, it can be challenging to go beyond competitive pay and bonuses, flex time scheduling, and a core offering of employee benefits, so taking a broader and more creative look at what’s possible with total rewards can distinguish your organization as a best in class employer in your industry.  Regardless of the rewards you choose, their success depends on full communication and implementation strategies to ensure everyone is aware of what’s available to them and why.

Total rewards do more than keep your best people – they energize your workplace, instill a sense of pride, and nurture employee engagement that directly translates to the customer experience.  Your employees, prospective new hires, and ultimately your customers will recognize that the leaders of your organization truly care for their people and want to provide them with a complete employee experience that makes their lives easier, healthier, more enjoyable, and above all, more productive.