Hennepin County was confronted with a growing pool of retirement-eligible employees, shifting workforce demographics and a regional workforce talent shortage, as well as better-funded private-sector competition to attract talent. The three-to-five-year forecast for the regional talent pool suggested that a substantially larger retired population would require support from a smaller working population. The county also wanted to build a diverse employee base that was more representative of the communities it served, while also focusing on the continual development of its workforce.
Looking Beyond Compensation
Focus group data showed that most of Hennepin County’s employees did not understand how to value their Total Rewards from the county, so they generally defaulted to thinking of base pay as the only “value” metric available. By utilizing a variety of approaches and tools, such as a compelling Total Rewards philosophy, Mercer’s proprietary Internal Labor Market® Map and focus groups to gather employees’ views (inside out) and employers’ views (outside in), Mercer and Hennepin County were able to design and activate a total rewards solution to showcase all of Hennepin’s benefits to help attract and retain passionate, mission-driven employees.
Embracing Multiple Perspectives
To help Hennepin County create an effective Total Rewards strategy, Mercer worked with the Hennepin HR team, leadership, the unions and individual employees to get input on four foundational perspectives to be factored in to the plan. These included:
- Cost perspective — Can the rewards programs designed to support the desired strategy be provided at an affordable and sustainable cost? If not, how should they be modified to be financially viable?
- Employee perspective (“inside out”) — What does or should differentiate working for Hennepin County from competing employment opportunities? How do employees place value on the current rewards package?
- Employer perspective (“outside in”) — What are the needs of the workforce in terms of structure, behavior, capabilities and performance? How should the rewards programs be designed and delivered to meet the employees where they are and secure those workforce outcomes?
- External perspective (more “outside in”) — What are the labor and related rewards environments in which the organization competes?
How do they influence or constrain Total Rewards practices that Hennepin County may wish to adopt?
The answers to these questions informed the creation of a roadmap for a Total Rewards strategy, prioritized and mapped to a timeline, along with a series of philosophies to guide the strategy.
Learning from Hennepin County’s Total Rewards experience
The county’s workforce — more than 9,000 strong — was facing a significant number of upcoming retirements and a shifting, highly competitive labor market. With 40% of the workforce reaching retirement age in the next three years, Hennepin County had an opportunity to create a total rewards strategy to attract and retain the talent needed to help the county achieve its community goals. Mercer worked with Hennepin County to redesign and reset its Total Rewards program from the “outside in” to meet employees where they are in the work lifecycle.