The pandemic has changed employees' perceptions when it comes to total rewards: Lipika Verma

The pandemic has changed employees' perceptions when it comes to total rewards: Lipika Verma

"Total rewards have four main components: compensation, benefits, environment, and development," says Lipika Verma, VP, Rewards & Performance Innovation & Thought Leadership, Schneider Electric.

Events like the so-called “Great Resignation” indicate that the pandemic has led employees to reconsider what they value and seek at work. What do you believe employees now expect in terms of rewards and recognition (R&R) that differs from what they endured prior to the pandemic? What is technology’s role in meeting the expectations gap?


The COVID-19 pandemic remains a serious threat to a strong and sustained labour-market recovery. A survey from the job site Indeed suggested that employers remain uneasy about whether there will be a turnaround in that unwelcome trend any time soon. As people have re-evaluated their needs relating to their work and personal lives, a large number of employees have resigned in the US and many other countries. Almost 74% of surveyed organisations believe that the Great Resignation is a “real and present” issue, and many employers fear that resignations will remain high even into the future.


The pandemic has changed employees’ perceptions when it comes to “total rewards”. Total rewards have four main components: compensation, benefits, environment, and development. While, historically, much importance has been given to compensation, over the last few years and especially (due to COVID) the last few months, there has been increasing focus on benefits. Environment—in terms of work-life balance, flexibility, recognition, and employee wellbeing—has also taken a special place in this challenging time.


Currently, employees are talking about five priorities: compensation, flexibility, work-life balance, the option for remote work, and room to focus on personal and family responsibilities. It is imperative for organisations to ensure that they can support all of these priorities from a technological standpoint. As the backbone for these needs, technology has an important role to play in the new scheme of things and in the future as we invite newer generations into the workforce. Flexibility, for example, can only be brought about with the use of technology, and programs and solutions given by employers must be flexibly designed.


Rewards and recognition must also be designed to cater to the elements of choice and scalability to a much larger level.


Designing R&R strategies that fit different workforce demographics, geographies and work environments (remote/in-office/hybrid) while also reflecting employees’ personal needs and preferences appears challenging. How can technology help hyper-personalise rewards and recognition for employees?


We all need flexibility, be it in our personal or professional lives. Today, we are spoiled by choice, and therefore, even in our professional journeys, we need to use our ability to choose whenever we get the opportunity. In terms of the total rewards philosophy when it comes to work-life integration and career choices, the benefits that we all want to have include the element of choice within them. Therefore, in order to manage the choice element better, we need to use technology in each and everything that we do.


Taking examples of well-being that focus on physical, mental, social, emotional, financial and environmental well-being, we need to ensure that all programs are created (or co-created) in a bottom-up manner and are backed up by technology. For example, companies are investing in physical well-being programs through health apps, online gamification, etc. Similarly, social well-being can be enhanced through some applications/initiatives on online platforms. When it comes to mental well-being, we have seen extensive use of technology platforms over the last few months due to the challenging COVID situation.


Moreover, recognition platforms need technology so that people can be recognised in a social manner and so that managers can give recognition spontaneously in this ever so connected virtual world.


Many benefits today are becoming enhanced to include flexible benefits, and we need technology platforms to provide such solutions to employees.


How can analytics be used to measure the ROI of rewards and recognition and create strategies that better understand the interests and motivations of employees?


Analytics is an extremely important component of work today. It helps understand the effectiveness of various programs and enables the organisation to get better at its policies and processes. Right from the time a person gets hired into the company till the time they leave the organisation, analytics helps at each stage in determining the return on investment for rewards and recognition.


Elements like benefits and recognition can be made better using analytics which can be done through various platforms, depending on the need of the company. It helps us make an informed decision whenever we are looking at making changes to a plan design or enhancing the offering to the employees.


Fine-tuning of these solutions/ programs also can easily be done when we use the numbers to gauge the impact of a solution. Some areas around employee engagement also help us understand employees’ interests and motivations, therefore helping the team design and co-create certain elements of the rewards and recognition offerings.


Whether it is the initial offer made to a potential employee, performance management-related aspects, pay equity, recognition, or analysing employee feedback, analytics is something that helps us come up with solutions that will ultimately help the organisation reach a higher level of engagement.


Given that there are so many HR tech products on the market, the process of choosing the right technologies can feel daunting, overwhelming and frustrating. What are some important considerations to keep in mind when selecting tech tools to drive R&R programs?


Some of the areas to drive R&R programs are as follows:


The selection of HR technology products should be based on cause and effect.


The tool should be user-friendly and intuitive, and it must address all the challenges of the organisation. Effectively, this means that the requirement from the tool and how it would support a certain area should be planned clearly.


Integration of the technology product to other platforms and applications is a must, and it needs to be investigated during the process of selecting the technology.


Lastly, I strongly feel that the technology platform should have strong analytics capability in order to support the decision-making process.


What tech trends are you tracking in the R&R space that you think will lead the way in 2021 and beyond?


There are a few tech trends that I feel would be of extreme importance in 2021 and beyond:


Employee experience is extremely important and needs to be looked at while we try to map all the topics and their solutions.


Talent management will merge with internal mobility opportunities and the development aspect of total rewards, and can be managed through integrated technology platforms.


Performance, talent and rewards programs are going to converge and be integrated because rewards and recognition are all related to attraction, motivation and retention of talent.


As the creator economy is taking good shape, I can foresee employees taking a solid role in talking about total rewards offerings. Hence, the rewards team needs to look at having those exchanges through appropriate technology platforms to draw and design the programs and make them more meaningful for employees.


On the development side of rewards, I foresee coaching as an important element, which will be required more and more and needs to come through technology support and human intervention.


Job architecture and skills taxonomy areas are significant trends that will pick up more momentum as we move forward.


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