Design employee reward programmes that inspire and retain

Employee reward and recognition programmes incentivise employees as they support your business goals. But ‘rewards’ means different things to different people and having a counterbalancing organisational perspective is equally important. So, it’s crucial to design your employee reward programme specifically for your workforce.

Standard employee reward programmes might contribute to burnout

People need to feel appreciated, so your workforce appreciation efforts count – both to motivate and to avoid burnout.

To support your people’s mental and physical well-being and incentivise performance, having the right employee reward and recognition programmes are essential. But in this era of individualised choice, ‘rewards’ means different things to different people at different life junctures.

The ‘wrong’ employee reward programmes – the ones that don’t meet individual needs – are part of the reason employees are burning out. To prevent it, organisations now need to go beyond the traditional contractual rewards of pay and broad-brush benefits plus ad hoc components.

How do you know what rewards your employees need?

Begin by asking them without preconceived ideas.

To personalise workforce rewards, companies have begun using ‘personas’ to identify what matters most to target populations and to operationalise their employee rewards programme for distinct groups. 

Innovative rewards programmes effectively address individual’s preferences – enabling them to feel healthy, supported, and energised, personally as well as professionally – while staying within organisational and cost realities. A balance can be achieved with the right reward and recognition strategy.

Effective workforce rewards design requires:

  • Embracing the differentiated needs of a diverse, multigenerational workforce, and defining the appropriate engagement mechanisms for each group,
  • Understanding individual employee experiences and categorising those experiences into personas,
  • Holistically addressing employee needs with a more nuanced and flexible approach,
  • Considering all perspectives: personas, organisational needs, industry standards, regulatory landscape, competitor offerings, cost, and societal values, and
  • Formulating a rewards programme that harmonises with your other employee value propositions (EVP) and total rewards offerings.
Total rewards

Total Remuneration Survey

The world's largest and most comprehensive remuneration resource.

Employee reward programmes as talent retention tools

Having an outstanding reward and recognition programme as a talent attraction tool is important in a competitive, employee-centric labour market. But once employees are on board, designing for employee engagement and retention becomes the real challenge. 

To stay with an organisation, employees want rewards that enhance their professional, and increasingly – personal – experiences. 

Exceptional employers are developing employer-curated career paths and guidance and the more transparent and flexible these options, the better. Employers are becoming much more involved in employees’ non-work lives, too. Thriving organisations are embracing a holistic notion of well-being, providing programmes to bolster people’s physical, financial, emotional, and social health.

Finally, employers must offer rewards that connect with employees through a sense of common purpose. Motivated employees see their work as contributing to a larger purpose, not just as a job. Employers can nurture a truly unique connection with the organisation by: 

Four essential inclusions in employee reward programmes

To make reward meaningful for both you and your employees, your programme should be:

    Mercer’s employee rewards services and solutions

    Our consultants partner with you to develop competitive workforce reward and recognition frameworks to help you attract and retain the best talent in the market. We can help you improve performance and boost your competitive advantage.
    • Salary and benefit benchmarking surveys

      Whether you’re developing a new competitive pay structure or aligning productivity and performance for your people, access to a robust set of data and benchmarks both at market level and at specific job levels is critical to attract and retain the best talent for your business.
    • Workforce reward and compensation

      We partner with clients to develop robust workforce rewards and compensation structures with your business objectives in mind. We ask challenging questions, analyse data in rich, targeted ways to ultimately help you in crafting breakthrough solutions.

    To solve your most pressing employee reward challenges, we also offer Packaged Workforce Reward consulting solutions.

    Irrespective of organisational size and structure, the most common employee reward issues often hinder organisational agility. In response, we have developed a range of solutions that can be used to bring structure and drive consistent decision-making when addressing the most common workforce reward hurdles.

    Our Packaged Workforce Reward consulting solutions are built on Mercer’s HR consulting heritage, delivering best practice design combined with practical tools. Our solutions establish the foundations for more effective HR and employee reward management in the areas of highest focus, including: 

    • Grading and pay management 
    • Sales compensation 
    • Company cars
    • Gender pay reporting and equal pay.
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