Reeling in Employees with Rewards

Posted by Peter DeBellis on July 19, 2018.

Does your organization reward employees for their work? Of course! But for many companies, the “how” fails to extend (or barely extends) beyond compensation and basic benefits. Those foundational elements may have been ample in the past, but in today’s increasingly competitive job market, offering just the minimum is probably not enough to attract, retain, and motivate the talent your organization needs to thrive.

To compete effectively for top talent, companies need to rethink their rewards program and adopt a more expansive “total rewards” view. Companies should view employees as customers and appraise their current rewards offerings in a more empathetic and holistic manner. Such an approach leverages rewards to enhance employee experience.

What’s a “Reward,” Anyway?

Let’s start with the basics of a rewards program—compensation and benefits. Your company’s compensation program likely includes base pay and assorted forms of variable pay, such as bonuses and commissions. But most organizations set and revisit these rewards offerings only once a year. This restricts what could be a more powerful positive effect on employee experience. There may be a lot more organizations can do to keep compensation front and center—for example, revisiting the frequency of base salary and incentive programs, updating employees on progress against company bonus plans, or leveraging “on the spot” bonus programs.

Benefits include retirement programs, health insurance, paid time off, and an increasingly broad array of voluntary and gateway offerings. Unlike with compensation, employees commonly interact with and need to manage benefits offerings throughout the year, which creates an ongoing opportunity to use those offerings to enhance employee experience.

Next up is wellbeing. Once focused purely on physical wellness and subsumed under the banner of benefits, today’s wellbeing offerings tend to be more holistic and aimed at a host of goals that benefit employees and their employers, too. Because wellbeing entails a high level of employee interaction, and because participation is usually voluntary and customizable, it provides companies an opportunity to enhance employee experience in a personalized and differentiated way.

Finally, also consider experience and actualization offerings. They include learning and development, career paths and opportunity, mentoring and coaching, recognition programs, and the organizational culture. Understanding the value that employees ascribe to these programs is a hallmark of high-performing organizations. Even though these offerings may fall outside the direct control of the rewards function, high-performing organizations expand their definition of rewards to include them; these offerings’ career-spanning and career-enhancing nature can contribute significantly to employee experience.

So How Can I Develop an Enticing Rewards Program?

Don’t dictate the terms and conditions of your rewards programs with little or no employee input. And try these three ways to enhance the delivery of a rewards program that can make a big difference to employees:

  • Offer the right tools and technologies: High-performing organizations are significantly more likely to provide employees with easy-to-use, self-service tools and technologies that make managing rewards easier. And perhaps most important, they provide employees a single, integrated platform through which to manage their rewards.
  • Communicate openly and often: By fostering open, transparent communication with employees, organizations can not only more effectively promote and improve their rewards offerings but also can motivate and engage employees. As part of a more comprehensive approach to rewards communication, companies can customize rewards communications for different employee groups based on personas, journey maps, or other demographics.
  • Manage your external vendors: Most companies use a host of external providers to help support and deliver their rewards offerings. While these vendors may be essential, they can make or break the employee experience with rewards. Therefore, they must be managed carefully and held accountable for the experience that they provide to employees.

If your organization is working on exciting new rewards offerings, I’d like to hear from you. In addition, if your organization is working on new employee experience initiatives and you’d like to be interviewed as part of our research, please reach out to Madhura Chakrabarti ( or Robin Erickson ( In addition, be on the lookout for an online survey later this summer.

Bersin members can download and read the full article, Understanding Employee Experience: Rewards. Not a Bersin member but want to know more? Visit the Bersin website. For more insights into the employee experience, please see our blog series, which continues over the coming summer weeks. Bersin members should watch for our continuing articles in this series that takes a deeper look into the many aspects of the employee experience today.

Peter DeBellisPeter DeBellis, Vice President, Total Rewards Research Leader, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP

Pete leads total rewards research for Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP. Pete has a deep understanding of the various tools organizations use to attract, motivate, develop, and retain talent—from compensation and benefits to worker wellbeing programs to experience and actualization opportunities, among others. His experience, gained as in-house rewards professional for public companies and as a consultant, helps him understand the critical linkages between total rewards, HR strategy, and overarching business objectives. Pete holds a bachelor of science degree in industrial and labor relations from Cornell University.

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