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Compensation teams are facing new challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, including how to implement, manage, and run compensation systems when much or all of the company is working remotely. While the issue of managing remote work has been exacerbated by the pandemic, it is not new and its relevance is not limited to the health crisis.

The opportunity of remote work

Much has been written about how companies have accelerated the implementation of remote work strategies. Companies are seeing both the necessity and the advantages of remote workers. AON’s COVID-19 Pulse 5 Survey, conducted in August 2020, found that 72% of firms across industries are actively identifying functions and roles that can best operate remotely going forward.

So, if remote work is here to stay, what does that mean for managing rewards? Could this be an opportunity to transform rewards management into a key driver for corporate performance? How can rewards professionals rise to the challenge and leverage the potential of rewards to overcome today’s challenges? 

Giving employees the support they need now

COVID-19 has exacerbated the stresses of work-life balance, especially for working parents. In a survey by Alight, 92% of employers thought that the biggest impact of the pandemic is on employee well-being, such as mental health and stress levels. Remote work when the kids are in school is a whole lot different than remote work when they are at home doing distance learning. Companies need to look for ways to make a difference for employees with the issues they are facing in real time. Some issues may be a matter of communicating programs that already exist, like Employee Assistance Programs, caregiver support, childcare subsidies, or spending accounts. Just helping employees to find, navigate, and fund these support services can go a long way.

Companies may also find that old solutions are not adequate to handle the new realities faced by remote workers. This is a time for employers to experiment with novel approaches to keep their people motivated and productive. 

Localized reward models

Remember that effective rewards plans are not one-size-fits-all. The needs of remote employees in different localities will likely be different. The effects of the pandemic and local rules and requirements will vary from region to region, whether country to country, state to state, or city to city. Other factors can vary as well, such as changes in cost of living and cost and availability of health care, education, and child care. 

Likewise pay practices will be different from market to market, as will government programs for pay protection. You need to have a flexible rewards system in place that can manage local variations, exceptions, and changes. You also need to have your arms around your demographic data, with the ability to model the impact of any proposed pay changes on your different demographic groups, to ensure you are not unintentionally harming a particular demographic. 

Communicate value

Don’t underestimate the importance of communication. A recent Alight survey found that 49% of employees say they have a good understanding of their total rewards. So in other words, 51% don’t feel they fully understand their compensation and benefits. That means your investment in rewards is not being fully appreciated. Be sure that employees have access, anytime from anywhere, to all the information about their rewards packages: the plans, the metrics, the performance results and ratings that are being used, the variable pay calculation, and the value of their benefits.

Having the right platform is key

Lastly, a digital rewards platform ensures that compensation processes can run smoothly even when workers and administrators are remote. And it provides the ability to analyze data to tailor rewards appropriately to best meet the needs of a remote workforce, and to model proposed plans quickly and efficiently.

Digital transformation of rewards management can yield huge benefits in employee engagement and talent utilization and, as we will explore in a future blog, cost savings. To find out more about transforming your total rewards management, contact a beqom rewards specialist.

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