Showing the whole benefits picture

Total rewards statements provide timely, personalized details of employee’s worth

A roller coaster global economy has left employees uneasy and in greater need of information and reassurance. In addition, the much discussed talent shortages and shifting needs of a multi-generational workforce have left HR professionals with a challenge — and an opportunity — to open the lines of communication through total rewards statements.

These allow companies to share comprehensive and compelling personal benefits statements that reinforce the employees’ value to the organization and reduce the likelihood they will jump ship when economic conditions stabilize.

For HR departments struggling to have employees see benefits as more than a once-a-year, open-enrolment event, total rewards statements provide continuous, personalized communication year-round.


Total rewards statements began as paper summaries of the total cost of benefits provided to employees. These snapshots often include graphics to highlight salary, stocks, bonuses and other components of compensation, project pension growth and display employee and employer contribution levels for health care and other benefits. While the costs of compiling, printing and producing the paper statements are often high, employee feedback is positive and the practice of providing an annual statement has become widespread.

With the advent of self-service capabilities and on-demand “software as a service” technologies, the total rewards statement has expanded from an annual snapshot of benefits — still common at many organizations — to timely, online statements updated with each payroll, providing an almost up-to-the-minute value statement of compensation and benefits.

The advantages of these statements include:

Big picture: HR is often faced with the dilemma of communicating the value of increasingly costly benefits amidst employees’ perceptions they are paying more and receiving less. The total rewards statement spells out quantitative and qualitative benefits, and communicates the realities of the market, to offset the perception an employees’ benefits are in a downslide.

Pay for performance: As many HR departments grapple with strategically recruiting, retaining and rewarding top talent, total rewards statements provide a concrete way to align business strategy with performance and compensation. The personalized nature of the statements means the information can include individual and team performance metrics as well as gain sharing and other company-level compensation. They can also reflect special benefits and culture differentiators, such as time off for community service, tuition reimbursement, stock plans or recognition programs.

One-stop shopping: Presented in an easy-to-learn, easy-to use format, the statement delivers continuously updated information to an employee via a “one-stop shopping” secured web link that allows the individual to access, understand and appreciate the total package provided by the employer. Many total rewards statements offer modelling tools with charts, providing a planning process for contributory pension programs and seamless integration with existing financial providers and employee systems. Employers can also highlight a company match to these programs, reinforcing the message that retaining the individual is important to the organization.

Workforce differences: HR is challenged in having to appeal to the four generations and variety of cultures converged in the workforce. Communication with these audiences is critical to managing talent. The total rewards statement can provide the right messaging to each, potentially providing an avenue for an employee referral program that garners other top talent and increases the likelihood of continued employee engagement as employees seek the right fit with an employer.

Branding: Total rewards statements can serve as an extension of recruitment and retention branding and provide yet another avenue to communicate a company’s brand, mission and goals on a consistent basis.

Turnover and replacement costs: Total rewards statements can help reduce turnover by ensuring employees know their value to the organization. Armed with this information, they are less apt to suffer from “the grass is greener at the competitor” syndrome and often are more content and productive employees. If an employee is considering leaving for a higher paying position at another company, an exit interview can include a review of the total rewards statement to accurately compare the opportunities. In many cases this can cause a shift in perception and renewed commitment to the current employer.

Employee engagement: With the advent of the Internet, online banking and social networking sites, employees expect to have constant access to their performance, compensation and benefits information. So employers can reach employees on a regular basis in a format they are accustomed to and comfortable with.

As a part of its talent management strategy, an organization can communicate directly to employees a clear and comprehensive view of the investment it is making in each of them. By doing so, an employer can drive performance to align with overall business strategy and greatly impact recruitment and retention efforts.

Joann Deniso is a regional sales manager with Workstream, a talent management software provider with dual headquarters in Ottawa and Maitland, Fla.

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