Benefits and Compensation

Total Rewards Program Doing Its Job?

Your total rewards package affects your company’s ability to attract, motivate, and retain top talent. Is your program doing all that it could be? Consultant Jennifer Barton shows how to evaluate and improve your program.

Barton, Chief Operating Officer, Willis North America Human Capital Practice, made her suggestions at the recent SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition in Orlando. She offers the following chart to help you classify your various reward elements:

Measuring the Effectiveness of Your Current Total Rewards Strategy

Barton offers a 13-part review for your total rewards strategy. For each element listed below, award a rating as follows:
1=Strongly disagree
3=Somewhat agree
5=Strongly agree

Then add up your scores:

65 to 60=Very effective
59 to 55=Effective
55 to 50=Somewhat effective
49 or less=Not effective

To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements?

Effectiveness of Current Rewards Strategy




1. As an organization we are effective at attracting, motivating, and retaining talent.


2. Hiring managers can effectively communicate our employer value proposition to potential candidates.


3. Voluntary turnover among high-performing/high-potential employees is higher than desired.


4. Our total rewards strategy is based on up-to-date knowledge of the preferences and satisfaction of our critical positions and high-performing/high-potential employees.


5. We have identified critical segments of our workforce and have implemented tailored strategies to attract, develop, and retain them.


6. We have policies and guidelines in place for HR, managers, and employees around our various reward elements (compensation, performance management, identification of high-potentials, etc.).


7. We have developed a compelling employment brand that is highly perceived by employees and facilitates the attraction and retention of needed talent.


8. Our total rewards strategy is designed to influence the right behaviors to drive business results (i.e., pay for performance).


9. We can name at least two reward elements we excel in that our talent competitors do not also excel in.


10. Our employees understand the real value (employee and employer spend) of their total rewards  package.


11 Our total rewards strategy is aligned to the marketplace in which we compete for talent.


12. We have a set of 3 to 5 elements that make up our core total rewards strategy.


13. Our total rewards philosophy is aligned with the strategy and culture of the company.




Last chance to enter your HR innovation for the HR Innovator Awards. Get recognized for your contributions to the profession. Final deadline for entries is August 30. Details and entry form here.

Common Issues to Dive Deeper On

If your total rating is not what you think it should be, Barton suggests the following areas to dive deeper on:

  • Alignment to business strategy
  • Alignment to marketplace
  • Critical roles and positions
  • High-performing employees
  • High-potential employees
  • Communication of the program
  • Rewards spread too thin
  • Program not tied together

Total Rewards Gap Assessment

You can also do a gap assessment of your rewards program, says Barton. Start by listing your reward elements. For example, you might list:

  • Benefits
    • Health and welfare programs
    • Retirement plans
    • Employee assistance programs
  • Compensation
    • Base pay
    • Variable pay
  • Work-Life initiatives
    • Flex work arrangements
    • Concierge services
    • Paid time off
  • Performance and recognition
    • Annual performance review
    • Employee recognition program
  • Development and career opportunities
    • Coaching and mentoring
    • Training
    • Professional development

Then, for each element listed, determine a rating on the following:

  • How effective at attraction and retention is this element?
  • Do we frequently lose candidates and/or employees to competitors because they deliver this element better than we do?
  • Do employees cite this reward element as a source of discontent?
  • Do new hires cite this reward element as a reason they were attracted to our organization?
  • How effective at engagement is this element?
  • How aligned to the business strategy is this element?
  • How aligned to the desired marketplace is this element?
  • Do we struggle to provide detailed, credible evidence for how we deliver this element better than our competitors?
  • Do employees rate us strongly on this reward element in surveys (or anecdotally)?
  • Do we have HR processes and policies that support the provision of this reward element?
  • How competitive do we want to be?
  • What is our next step with regard to this element?

Final deadline for the HR Innovator Awards! Get recognized for your contributions to the HR profession. All entries must be in by August 30. Details and entry form here.

Identify the Talent to Drive Results

Finally, says Barton, answer the following questions:

  1. What skills and behaviors do you specifically need from your workforce to drive business results?
  2. What employee group(s) most directly contributes to the achievement of this goal through their day-to-day performance?
  3. What must employees do more, better, or differently to support the business goals?

In tomorrow’s Advisor, structuring a plan for improving your total rewards package, plus it’s the final call for entries for the HR innovator Awards.

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