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Beyond Pay and Perks: Embedding corporate culture in total rewards communication

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How many ways do you tell your workforce just exactly what your business values – in the marketplace, the workplace, and the world at large?

Presumably the organization has an expressed culture, a brand, and an “employee value proposition” that helps guide your recruitment and management efforts as well as attracting and holding on to the right candidates. Part of that EVP is in your compensation and benefits strategy – the total rewards you offer. Your total rewards program – compensation, benefits, wellbeing, recognition, learning and performance – is how your organization attracts, engages and retains its workforce. That’s a given, and it’ a clear expression of the social contract between employees and their employers. But your culture goes beyond pay and perks.

Shouting culture from the rafters

Every organization has a culture. It’s unavoidable, and happens whether you’ve planned it out or not. Simply speaking it’s your company’s personality: the way work gets done, the expectations you and your employees have of each other, the social and community environment you inhabit, and your whole business philosophy. Culture is based on shared attitudes and beliefs that have often developed over time. It’s an internal brand for the organization’s people as much as an external promise for customers.

Along with your organizational purpose, brand and culture should drive your total rewards strategy. And the total rewards statement is one way to highlight the uniqueness not only of your culture, but the uniqueness of each individual employee. Organizations spend lots of time designing their compensation and total rewards strategy. Communicating that strategy from a culture perspective makes sure you are getting the best return from the money you spend on benefits and the highest level of engagement and enthusiasm from your employees.

“Same old same old” is getting old

Creating a total rewards statement that supports your culture may mean including things in rather unconventional categories that are “rewarded.”

Kraft Heinz, for example, is well known for its commitment to making the world a better place. In their signature Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative, they distribute millions of iron-fortified meal packages globally. They are also known for recognizing and rewarding employees that are high performers regardless of the employees’ level within the organization. A total rewards statement that has categories like ‘Giving Back’ and ‘Growing your Career’ along with the usual compensation and health categories might be appropriate for this company.

Touching on the intangible

Sometimes companies are known for a workforce approach that is appealing to employees, but doesn’t usually get talked about.

Take Netflix as an example, they’re known for its culture of hiring only top tier employees and paying them for it. They state that one of the most important benefits to their employees is that they get to work alongside other top tier employees. Highlighting this as a core benefit on their total rewards statement wouldn’t be considered to be a traditional benefit but one that might resonate as a significant differentiator to its members.

Control the medium to grow the culture

Compiling the information for your total rewards statement is just the legwork necessary to get started. Once you know what will be included you have to figure out how it will fit together: what benefits will be grouped logically together, what order will they be featured in, and how will they be labeled. This includes the prominence each benefit will take and how other content (like a statement of the firm’s corporate social responsibility initiatives and results) and other employee perks will be expressed.

However, if you don’t fully understand how your employees prefer to get this information, things could backfire. Statements can be delivered in many different forms. Online or print, creative or formal, colloquial or technical, shorthand or more detailed, themed or non-themed, interactive or read only. Besides, shouldn’t the design and distribution media for your rewards statements reflect your company’s values? A large printing or publishing house can make great use of beautifully designed paper-based statements, while that approach could be just plain silly for a hi-tech firm.

Culture: The heart and soul of what you value

Total Rewards Statements are an effective tool to attract, motivate and retain workers, but they have to be done right. They play a significant role in differentiating the company from other companies competing for the same talent. Any way you slice it, embedding your company’s personality in your statements will reinforce your brand and your culture in ways that bring employees – and the company – together.

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