Thinking Strategically about Retaining and Rewarding Employees


If your client is thinking about investing in human capital – in ways that will retain employees, think carefully about whether their investment will pay off.  Not just the investment they make when they employ staff, I mean real investment; the investment that is made over and above weekly or fortnightly wages.

Since McKinsey first coined the phrase “War for Talent”, much has happened to shape our thinking about attraction and retention.  Labour is now more mobile than ever before.  In America 1/3rd of the workforce is mobilised into part time or casual employment.  In Australia we are trending the same way as part of a global trend.

We have reached a new and unfamiliar era of what was once just simply the “labour market”.  What we now have is the scarce commodity of human capital, eyeing up business as a potential “meal & career ticket” to the next big thing!

If we don’t learn to adapt and work with the pool of talent with its need for money, status and promise of once unheard of enticements, then the pool will be totally devoid of all potential leaving a few to complete all the work.

When the old methods cease to work we must look outside the square to understand and accommodate the needs of the 21st century workforce.

What is emerging is a new paradigm, one that challenges us to rethink retention and view our employees – past, present and future as partners of your client’s business.  Thinking strategically about retaining and rewarding employees by:

•    Thinking Relationship Management – building a social network of past, present and prospective talent
•    Thinking Total Rewards System – initiating financial models that compensate and both reward and invest in the future of high performance talent
•    Thinking Engagement Model – entrepreneurial contracts and project based engagement that fulfils the drive for mobility
•    Thinking about how to access talent that provides sustainable delivery of our products and services

The world has changed: Employee mobility is the norm and it is becoming a global phenomenon.

It is time to consider

•    How can my client deliver their products & service in a labour market where supply fluctuates?

•    How can my client leverage employee mobility?

In a research report by Brian Wilkinson, head of Randstad UK, said: “There is a gap between what organisations think will motivate their key talent to stay with them and what their employees actually say will retain them. The research also showed that a quarter of workers, who are not actively looking, would consider changing employer if something attractive came up.”

He added: “It is important that organisations act now to resolve this gulf in understanding, otherwise they risk losing talented people who have up-skilled during the recession and made themselves more valuable.”

Two very poignant pieces on this issue are
Dan Pink on the surprising science of motivation published by and “Rethinking Employee Retention” by Associate Professor of Human Resource Management at Melbourne Business School, Ian O. Williamson

The concept of Total Rewards is not new; the approach however should be designed with global trends in mind.  It makes perfect sense to take the design of a Total Rewards program to the people who are at the “bullseye” of its strategic trajectory.

Step 1

Ask your client’s employees what they “value” about their business and the work they do for the business.  There are more than a dozen reasons that keep employees motivated to come to work each day and only part of it is their take-home pay.

Step 2

Develop a multi-option parcel of incentives.  We humans all have different values in life and so just money or just an annual bonus will never be embraced by 100% of employees.  It is time to tailor the Rewards to their needs and not what has ineptly been decided in the Boardroom or at a Managers’ meeting.

It is the level of respect demonstrated by manager in an “engagement” model that will lead to the greatest degree of buy-in to a Total Rewards program.  Assuming a “one size fits all” is the old paradigm and will fail to address the global shift in the market.

Develop a “talent” plan – which former employees can you engage with via social networking and relationship management.  Who is working for the competition that you would like to attract to your client’s business?  What are the criteria for their ideal new employees?  (When they come knocking at your door it would be wise indeed to recognise them!  Ask the guys at Google, they create jobs for top talent)

Step 3

Develop a “pool” to fund Step 2.

Step 4

Develop a distribution method for the pool.  There are many ways of slicing up the pie for distribution and every business will have unique requirements for how this should be done.

Take Action

Shirley Farrell HR Management Services has been involved in the design and implementation of Total Rewards systems and talent management planning for over 10 years.

By Shirley Farrell


email: [email protected]


Leave a Comment

© 2013 Business Advisor Network.
A not for profit organisation - connecting business with experts.
Terms of Use | Forum Rules and Guidelines | Contact | About