(B)end it like Beckham? The best rewards are yet to come...

By Sylvia Doyle, Reward First People Consulting.

David Beckham, reported to be ‘the greatest footballer of all times’ played his last home game for Paris Saint-Germain yesterday before he retires from professional football at the age of 38. Hailing from Leytonstone London, Beckham is now as famous for advertising that well-known brand of designer underwear (so my tween-age boys tell me) as for his on-the-pitch football.

He is also famous for his earnings. Last year alone he generated an estimated personal income of £28.3m. Not bad given that his reward package attracts less negative press than executives in financial services.

>Last year alone he generated an estimated personal income of £28.3m

Okay, I am not going to argue the case as to whether Beckham’s package is justified or proportionate. Though it has been based on talent on the pitch above his speaking skills. I believe the more interesting point is that in Beckham’s career to date, let’s call it his phase one career, cash rewards have been a highly visible component.

However the ambassadorial role he played alongside this in 2005 to promote the City’s bid to bring the Olympic games to London was pivotal. London won the 2012 bid. While the rosy glow of what many describe as ‘the greatest Olympics’ still lingers the non-cash rewards in terms of earning respect and recognition for his achievements also feature.

So while Beckham’s phase two career may not be based on his core talent of football, it capitalises on the strong ‘brand’ he has earned through his non-footballing activities. His work in encouraging children and young people into sport offers Beckham a ‘give back’ opportunity that might not have been on the cards 20 years ago. Surely for the man where cash is clearly a hygiene factor, those intangible aspects of total rewards are more relevant.

While the ‘say-do’ gap in both corporate life and rewards (“people are our greatest asset…”) continue to create tension, there is also an opportunity for business leaders to apply some altruism. This can achieve far more for corporate reputations than just focusing on shorter term goals AND produce stronger and more lasting success. This also supports the intangible elements of the total rewards agenda that we talk about though don’t always follow through.

What do you think?

I’d like to hear your views and also hope to see some of you at the 2013 CIPD Reward Conference  this week.

Thank you for your comments. There may be a short delay in this going live on the blog page as we moderate the comments added to our blogs.