By Claudine Kapel
Does your total rewards strategy reflect what employees and potential hires really want and value?
A new survey underscores the importance of addressing more than pay and benefits when defining a compelling employment value proposition. According to research by Hays Canada, there’s a fair amount of discontent percolating in Canadian workplaces:
• less than 50 per cent of respondents report being satisfied in their current role, and
• more than 40 per cent indicate they are currently acquiring new skills to capitalize on skill shortages in other industries
The survey featured responses from more than 5,000 Canadian professionals.
Given the level of dissatisfaction surfaced by the survey, a key question becomes: What are people looking for?
The Hays research suggests employers should be paying more attention to employee development and other work environment considerations.
“Compensation isn’t the only driving force for Canadians when they are evaluating a new job offer, or deciding whether or not to stay with a current company,” reports Hays. “For the majority of professionals, benefits, career growth opportunities, and company culture/reputation also play a strong role.”
The research suggests “in many instances, individuals are prepared to earn less salary in return for a significant improvement in work-life balance with more vacation time, or a job with more opportunity to learn new skills.”
In fact, 71 per cent of respondents indicate they would accept a reduction in pay for a new job opportunity that “met benefits, career progression and company reputation expectations.” Further, nearly 40 per cent indicate they would take a pay cut of at least 10 per cent if they were offered their ideal job.
In addition, the majority of respondents (75 per cent) indicate they are unwilling to accept less vacation time as part of a new offer.
“We’ve long heard about rising interest in work life balance, but businesses that stop there when creating employee packages will miss the mark. In virtually every sector we’re seeing that employee demands are much more nuanced, and that traditional hallmarks for success such as job title and salary level are being replaced by a combination of measures that build a more rounded workplace identity.”
What’s significant about the research findings is that they highlight how an optimal total rewards strategy should balance pay and benefits with non-monetary considerations such as development.
“Traditionally, Canadians equated rate of promotion with career progression,” reports Hays. “That’s changing. Today’s candidates rank ‘new challenges’ as the most important element for career progression.”
These findings represent good news for employers who want to better manage or contain fixed compensation costs related to base pay while still maintaining the ability to attract and retain talent. Employees want to build and maintain their marketable skills. Employers that support such learning and growth can position themselves as an appealing place to work even if they’re not leading the market in compensation.
But the research findings indicate employees won’t be swayed by sizzle instead of steak. For example, 43 per cent also ranked “place within the organization’s hierarchy” as more important than job title.
If you want to ensure you’re spending your total rewards dollars wisely, it can help to take a step back and assess what employees really want. Such insights can help ensure you’re not overlooking key elements in your total rewards offering. A more holistic framework can help ensure your organization isn’t driven to differentiate itself strictly on the basis of compensation when competing for talent.
Claudine Kapel is principal of Kapel and Associates Inc., a Toronto-based human resources and communications consulting firm specializing in the design and implementation of compensation and total rewards programs. For more information, visit www.kapelandassociates.com.