What do “hot sex” and a Boston Terrier tell us about reward?

Deborah Moon, Reward blogger

In recent months we have seen a number of encouraging indicators of the improving UK economy, with pay rises now seemingly outpacing falling levels of inflation, and reported increases in earnings and income levels.  However, delivering and maintaining longer-term and sustainable financial wellbeing remains a challenge for many employers, employees and their families. What reward options are available to employers as they seek to address increasing recruitment and retention challenges, enhance performance and productivity, and maintain and promote employee engagement, development and progression? These were some of the issues considered and debated at a recent joint CIPD Reward Forum and Kent Branch event, providing participants with an opportunity to reflect on recent and current trends and practices, as well as looking at what the future may hold for reward. 

Presentations drew on the CIPD’s Winter 2014/15 Employee Outlook survey and Labour Market Outlook survey, providing a useful barometer of approaches to pay in 2014 from both an employer and employee perspective, as well as looking at pay predictions for 2015. There was also an insight into the impact of pay on employees’ views and perceptions in a number of key employment areas, such as motivation, performance management/assessment and communication. In addition, recent research by the CIPD provided an interesting and different perspective, looking at what behavioural science tells us about reward and demonstrating that how people respond to pay matters is clearly more complex than economists would perhaps have us think!

Ensuring employees are focussed, motivated and engaged is a continual challenge for employers, particularly during times of cost cutting, restructuring and uncertainty – features which have been prevalent in many workplaces in recent years.   The event considered what actions employers can take to help understand and maximise employee engagement and how reward can be used as a key tool to deliver this in practice. This highlighted the critical role of line managers as the “embodiment” of the employer, the importance of their having a quality relationship with staff and an understanding of what works best at an individual employee level in terms of personal encouragement and development. In other words, it’s about knowing which are the best “buttons to push” for each individual employee and acting accordingly, as well as having a range of options in the total reward and recognition toolkit to apply in different situations and circumstances.  

Finally the event peered into the future to look at some of the longer-term trends which employers and reward professionals will need to manage, plan and prepare for.  This indicated the key challenges are likely to centre around:

  • pay setting, particularly in terms of addressing and responding to location “hot spots” and key skill shortages;
  • planning for the potential of more generalised pay inflation and resulting recruitment and retention pressures;
  • considering the relationship between fixed and variable pay and ensuring your reward model is appropriately aligned/balanced for your organisation;
  • anticipating the challenges of the continuing shift in workforce demographics, with the growing population of older aged workers and the implications for and costs of health/wellbeing benefits and pension provision;
  • assessing the implications of increasing pension flexibilities and the need for employers to take action in relation to workplace savings options and the provision of financial education, helping improve employees’ understanding and capability in this increasingly complex area.

But what has “hot sex” and a Boston Terrier got to do with all this I hear you ask?

Understanding why people come to work and what motivates and inspires them is key to the performance/engagement relationship - apparently, last year Michael Gove, former Education Secretary , was reported as referring to “hot sex” as one of the reasons why young people want to work in London (along with great opportunities to be successful and enjoy a great cultural environment) *. So, there may be many drivers that reward professionals and managers have to tap into (and not necessarily the most obvious ones!)

There may also be a variety of solutions to your reward and engagement challenges which require innovative, creative and sometimes radical thinking – apparently, a Boston Terrier (characteristics, keeps everyone happy and can be trusted) was hired as the Director of Employee Engagement at a new UK start-up company *(is this an extreme example of “blue-sky thinking”?) But then this was reported on 1 April 2014 ...

* Source: HR Grapevine

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